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Who’s In and Who’s Out at Milan Fashion Week

This week, everyone will be talking about Milan Fashion Week, Nike’s earnings and Savage X Fenty’s latest fashion show on Amazon.
Descriptive caption TKKTK.
Kim Jones will hold his second Fendi show in Milan.

Missing in Action

  • A mostly physical Milan Fashion Week begins Sept. 23
  • Two of Kering’s Italian brands, Gucci and Bottega Veneta, are off the schedule
  • Emporio Armani celebrates its 40th anniversary and Prada holds its first in-person show with Raf Simons as co-creative director

Milan Fashion Week is back to its pre-pandemic form, with two key exceptions: Bottega Veneta and Gucci remain off the schedule. Early in the pandemic, most of Kering’s fashion brands announced they were leaving the calendar behind to show when and where they wanted. But Saint Laurent and Balenciaga will be back in Paris later this month, while Kering’s two buzziest Italian brands, Gucci and Bottega Veneta, are sticking to their guns. Milan has plenty of other draws, including Prada’s first in-person show with Raf Simons on board. After a debut show that deferred to Fendi’s heritage, Kim Jones may put more of his own spin on the brand. And Armani’s 40th anniversary comes as the designer has rebuffed acquisition offers.

The Bottom Line: The shows in New York and London offered an intriguing and often retail-ready glimpse at post-pandemic dressing. Of the designers showing this week, Miuccia Prada in particular has had plenty to say about the role fashion has played during the pandemic.

No Shirt, No Shoes, No Sales

  • Nike reports quarterly results on Sept. 23
  • Covid-related factory closures in Vietnam have hampered the brand along with other sneaker sellers
  • In June, Nike reported record sales as direct purchases of its sneakers soared

Nike’s strategy to sell most of its sneakers through its own ecosystem of websites and apps is playing out exactly as planned, with one small hitch: the company is struggling to source enough shoes to sell. According to Cowen, Nike manufactures 51 percent of its footwear in Vietnam, which went into lockdown in August. Factories have remained closed longer than initially expected, and brands ranging from On Running to Adidas are facing leaner inventory heading into the holiday season, analysts say. Cowen predicts the supply chain crisis could lower Nike’s sales this year by $1.3 billion. There’s an upside: fewer shoes means fewer leftover products at the end of the season, which means fewer promotions and fatter margins. Nike, which has pivoted much of its sales to its own channels, is in a better position than some rivals to control inventory and pricing as a result.

The Bottom Line: Supply chain issues aside, Nike is way out in front of the pack. But On Running’s impressive IPO — and the steady drip of elite athletes leaving Nike for other brands — is a sign the competition may be getting a second wind.

Third Time’s the Charm

  • Savage X Fenty will stream its third fashion show on Amazon on Sept. 24
  • Rihanna’s lingerie brand was valued at $1 billion in a February funding round
  • Last year’s Amazon fashion show bumped up social media chatter about the brand by 78 percent compared with the previous month, according to Tribe Dynamics

Rihanna and her friends are back. This Friday, some of the world’s biggest musicians, models, drag queens and TikTok stars will appear in Savage X Fenty’s third special, once again streaming on Amazon. The brand has used its annual shows to draw a contrast with Victoria’s Secret, which stubbornly stuck to a vision of sexuality that was long past its sell-by date. The strategy has worked: Savage X Fenty now has a $1 billion valuation and ambitious plans to expand into retail. But that initial window of opportunity may be closing. Victoria’s Secret, now an independent company free of its old executives and much of its old baggage, is all-in on inclusivity, including a diverse roster of A-list brand ambassadors. The reigning giant’s turnaround ups the ante for Savage X Fenty, which will need to find new ways to maintain a hold on its customers now that even the most traditional lingerie brands are modernising their image, and a host of even newer labels are pushing the category’s boundaries further.

The Bottom Line: Savage X Fenty is no longer the new kid on the block, and it has $115 million in funding from L Catterton and other heavyweights to tackle Victoria’s Secret, Aerie and other large competitors head-on.

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