LONDON, United Kingdom — The industry may still be embroiled in a deeper debate on the 'broken' fashion system and the variety of new operating models being proposed, but looking at the schedules of the upcoming men's fashion weeks, it seems there is emerging consensus around at least one of the key issues being discussed: integrating men's and women's fashion shows.
It's hard to keep track, but in recent months, Burberry, Tom Ford, Bottega Veneta, Vetements, Gucci and Alexander Wang are amongst the brands which have announced plans to show menswear and womenswear collections together, eliminating their standalone men's shows. This, combined with a number of changes at the creative helms of key brands, means this season's menswear schedules are noticeably thinner, especially in London and Milan.
London Collections: Men still has some exciting young talents, of course — especially Craig Green, recent winner of the GQ/BFC Fashion Fund prize, and Grace Wales Bonner, who has captivated menswear industry watchers here in London. But without the anchor of the Burberry show, normally held on Monday afternoon at 1pm, a slot now occupied by Coach, the schedule lacks a major draw with big advertising spend to match. As Dunhill is without a designer at the moment, following the recent exit of John Ray, the brand is noticeably absent from the schedule as well, though, like Burberry, Dunhill is hosting a private event evening.
In Milan, the pickings are also slimmer than usual. As the industry awaits the much-speculated arrival of Raf Simons at Calvin Klein, the brand is staging only a small presentation this season. Ermenegildo Zegna is also missing from the Milan schedule as the brand awaits the arrival of Alessandro Sartori, who will join later this year. And Bottega Veneta is absent because the brand (as part of its 50th anniversary celebrations) is holding a combined menswear and womenswear show in September, which the company has said may foreshadow a permanent move towards integrated shows. There is still Prada, Versace, Armani and Gucci, which is holding its final standalone menswear show before it also integrates menswear into its womenswear shows as of next February.
So, what happens to men's fashion weeks going forward? And do we really need separate men's fashion weeks anyway?
On the one hand, there are certainly many men's-only brands that still benefit from a dedicated showcase and, according to several conversations I have had recently, if the industry does move to consolidate men's and women's fashion weeks, some people seem to prefer the January and June timings of the current men's shows (which happen to coincide with the women's pre-collections) rather than the February and September timings of the current women's ready-to-wear shows. But so far, it seems men's fashion weeks are losing out to women's weeks.
Over the long term, it may be complicated to coordinate even more shows and squeeze all the buyers and editors across menswear and womenswear into tightly packed hotels and show venues. But if we can make it work as an industry, it would certainly be more efficient to consolidate men's and women's fashion weeks.
That said, in Paris, we do have a new exciting addition to the men's fashion week schedule: the first Balenciaga menswear show in the house's 99 year history, which is sure to get the week started with a bang!
Imran Amed, Founder and Editor-in-Chief