We have had tons of requests for tickets to our show at Fashion Week............despite us not showing this season. Many of you have asked why and some avid fashionistas seem astounded to the point that they still gagging over their tepid Evian bottles of water. So to dispel any myths of us staging a coup and launching our own fashion week (the very thought of it sends a shiver down my spine amidst all the Circque du Mode theatrics going on at present) or the fact that I am completely immersed in our events business...........herewith the reason/s!
Firstly, we have just come out of a World Cup and whilst we all enjoyed the great spirit and sense of patriotism on show we all suffered that awful period of having soccer on our mind 24/7. Whilst I can't say that it applied to me personally, what I will venture to say is that it did bring many things to a stand still whether is was simple work productivity, supplier delays or simply the fact that it seemed like Christmas in July. Most of those badly dressed (and often tacky) WAGS hung on to their H&M dresses like a vuvuzela stuck to the lips of those demented South Africa fans who blew it at a drop of a makarapa! So many of us knew that accessing the so called onslaught of potential foreign clients would be akin to rediscovering the Cullinan diamond. So we decided to work on doing more international marketing and working on our online boutique which is taking far longer then we expected. Technology is frustrating and needs to be tweaked more then a toile for Oprah Winfrey I've learnt!
Be that as it may, being asked to fill in an absurd questionaire 2 months before a fashion week takes place and then still having to wait for a 'selection' committee to agree to you showing is a bit all too much. Why put established designers through all that? Is it necessary? Or is it just a smoke screen for organisers to be appear to be diligent? It's day 2 already of fashion week and the general word out there is that it has not gone as well as anticipated and the collections are looking a bit tired leave alone the ghastly trend interpretations that some designers have conjured up. So much for the selection committee then?
Are fashion weeks losing their appeal? I think they have and certainly they seem to have lost focus on the real reason that the industry hosts them. Where's all the business transactions or row of buyers that we should have? Enjoying the tail end of the European summer holidays I think.............
We need to seriously assess where and how we show as designers. Do we show to an audience that is there to socialise or think its hip to be seen at an event like fashion week or do we show to people who are our customers and to new audiences waiting to spend at our stores? The choice seems pretty obvious to those endowed with common sense alas not quite with the powers that be.
I am responsible for the livelihoods of my staff and the loyal people who work in every aspect of my business. Launching or showing a new collection is not a rash decision and not one that I take lightly. We plan extensively for these things and we plan exactly what we aim to sell to either existing clients or new clients that we aim to introduce to our product. Leave alone the PR and marketing activity that goes into making sure that one's work is given the right exposure. Nothing is done with our proper planning and the precise execution of a Samurai warrior!
In any event most people and certainly designers will tell you that collections have a longer life span. We are still delivering repeat orders on our Autumn/Winter 2009 Couture collection and the Spring/Summer 2011 collection we took a risk by launching in early July because we were not sure of when fashion week would be held and whether we would have received an invite to participate. It was the prelude to World Cup and strategically it was the right thing to do! So again its a reason for us not having shown a collection. Another reason is, and one we are brimming with pride over, is the launch of our men's bespoke range. This is about to launch but in doing so we have had to invest time, labour and capital into setting up a different infrastructure to manage the production of this which is separate to our womenswear studio.
Many things must change with our fashion weeks..........it needs strategic direction and a boost in creativity together with ironing out the major snags. We most definately will return to show but for now I am happy working on the growth of our business and preparing for what is still going to be a harder year of trade. A reserved and more cautious approach in the luxury goods industry is called for and the urge to explore new gaps in the market.
Moving forward the question on many people's lips are whether any of the fashion weeks are appropriate for them as platforms to show on? Perhaps working on one's own show yields greater results? We saw this last year by staging our own show off site and being able to invite people we wanted to and to execute our show the way envisaged. Maybe the catwalk is becoming obsolete? This has certainly held true for many designers abroad who have gone out to do exhibitions in different venues and without models? It's a changing world out there and one must have one's ear to the ground and be exceptionally realistic in making decisions around launching collections or showing at a fashion week for the sake of merely showing. I choose not to show this season at fashion week..........not until things change and it's worth my while and that of my business.