Sunday, October 19, 2008

'The Times They Are A-Changing...'

Photographer: Annie Leibovitz - Vanity Fair "Killers Kill, Dead Men Die"

I have had a few emails about fashion week dates (the ones held by AFI) and the move to bring them forward. In fact I read it on a blog by fellow designer Abigail Keats. Keats seems to think its a great idea and quite frankly I must agree except cannot agree to the dates that are now being proposed. Whilst my colleague is under the impression that these change of dates will lure buyers out from other parts of the world I am not quite convinced, in fact I am pretty willing to risk my Balenciaga gladiator sandals over it!
Rather then go on with a rather elaborate explanation of why these dates are simply laughable all I would like to say on this matter is pick up the phone and call any buyer worth their salt and see if they will be prepared to travel all this way at that time.......leave alone whether we are able to all change our closing schedules for business. Just an additional word on this........I have had the experience of working through the festive holidays prepping a collection for international fashion weeks........its not that easy and requires more then just simple forward planning requires a mammoth task of motivating staff and forget about the simple fact that most suppliers in SA at that time are propped on beach chairs looking like broiled lobsters far removed from the productive environments of our studios.

I do think that there is a need to move the dates however come on who dreamt this up? Apparently 'industry research' was conducted. What? Who? How? Come on share this watershed piece of research with all in the industry - we are all desperate to know? Please for the good Lord's sake don't use lead times in magazines as a material reason.........if this would be the case then one wonders how international magazines have coped all these years?

Oh well it seems that again the industry that warrants these events are being dictated to. Will be interesting to see the line up this January........the quality, the standard and number of designers that are truly ready to show Winter 2009! And I meant 2009 and not winter 2008 thats past!
Whilst there are some of us that are ready - as our ready to wear 2009 collections are done and dusted I am not sure how many SA designers are really ready. I cannot think of this change even if it were reasonable being introduced without a minimum of 6 months notice to all - hell I forgot we were apparently all consulted in terms of the 'research' that was done.......

My invitation arrived for JHB fashion week......Winter...
For me not being able to committing to participate is two fold:
1. Our collection is ready however putting a show together requires at least a month's prep......with my staff already on leave at that time the simple issue of manpower becomes an issue. I will be left with a few days to get it together........we could possibly do this however what about other designers who may not have comprehensive infrastructure or did not factor this into their planning? Real businesses in fashion plan - in fact it is crucial to everything we do.......
2. If the reason is to have buyers attend then who are they and where do they come from and who do they represent? Who am I showing to? More sponsors? Do I get 200-300 tickets in a venue filled with people who are trying to look vaguely fashionable? Do I have to pander to event creative direction as creative as Milli Vanili?

Leave alone that we are wanting to entertain international buyers when we allow collections on ramp that have as much romantic appeal as unrequited love..........

It costs designers money to do much as people can labour on about how much it costs to stage fashion weeks it does not take away from the fact that without collections to show there are no fashion weeks! We define the strength of a fashion week - the line up supports the event.......doesn't anyone get it? Without consulting the designers that they want to have on their fashion weeks about the change of dates is not a clever move either.
Anyway enough said I am looking forward to see what January has in store for us all! With the rand plummeting with the way it is and the way fashion is trading its an expense that most designers out there cannot afford. This was evident in the international fashion weeks that past.
Interesting to note that the covering email to this year's invitation stated that there has been an 'unprecedented interest'............hmmmm.

In terms of my brand I am not committing to expending time, energy and effort unless there are some changes and there is a benefit to our business. Keep the carrot dangling for rabbits and desperados!

'Come gather 'round people
Wherever you roam
And admit that the waters
Around you have grown
And accept it that soon
You'll be drenched to the bone.
If your time to you
Is worth savin'
Then you better start swimmin'
Or you'll sink like a stone
For the times they are a-changin'
Bob Dylan 1963


Arthur C said...

not sure u know this, but in durban it is an unwritten rule that if Gavin is not attending or showcasing the MTN DFW will not "happen".

Gavin Rajah said...

Not sure why this is the case although I must say that I find it heart breaking that Durban based established designers do not show on this platform. The worst decision was to make DFW's focus a young designer platform......bad decision.......
I hope that Durban continues to foster the creativity and talent that it has become renowned for producing. This week is apparently being moved earlier....
I have given this fashion week more then enough to prove its worth. I am still waiting. We make it work for us by hosting trunk sales etc etc but other then that if it were not for our OWN efforts this would not yield any financial benefits.....its a fun holiday by the sea for myself and my team paid for by ourselves.....

Angie said...

The dates proposed (21st of Jan - 24th of Jan 2009) conflict with Paris fashion week:

22nd - 25th Paris Fashion Week Men's Wear Fall-Winter 2009 2010

26th - 29th Paris Fashion Week Haute Couture Collections Spring-Summer 2009

I have always wondered just what the economic benefits were to showcasing at a local fashion week as I have been acutely aware of the over hype and under business focus. I realise that they serve as great marketing platforms but if that marketing is not turned into orders then what is the point?
I am also interested to learn that the designers have no idea who the buyers are. Is it the organiser's responsibility to fill the seats with buyers or the designer's to invite them? Have the organiser's stated bringing buyers to the table as part of their end of the deal or are they just show organisers?


Gavin Rajah said...

Buyers go to an event that has product available to purchase. Showing internationally is much easier as you have a captive audience.....
Fashion week organisers should be there to make sure that buyers are informed of these weeks and that they are hosted at these events. Off course not all the responsibility lies at their door.....designers who have existing relationships with clients and or buyers need to make sure that they are invited......again the difference is if you show out of SA they are far more accessible......
Locally I find that as a designer we have to make the shows work for us.......i.e. we have to make sure that they translate into sales. So far they have to an extent but there is only so much one can do within the confines of these events.....