In a season full of upheavals and designer ins and outs, one would be hard-pressed to find a sector of the fashion industry that wasn’t still reeling from all the chaos. Hedi Slimane is out at Saint Laurent, Bouchra Jarrar is in at Lanvin and at press time, Valentino’s Maria Grazia Chiuri had just been named the first female artistic director at Dior. But this season, even the endless speculation on who is in and who is out has taken a backseat to a much more consuming debate: Should fashion shift to a see-now-buy-now format that would make what’s on the runways immediately available in stores? And, what is next for media, retail and the future of the fashion system as we know it?
It’s an intriguing concept, one that several designers have already started experimenting with. Tom Ford canceled his February runway show and announced he would instead present his fall line to the public in September, while brands like Prada and Alexander Wang have already started making a few of their handbags available directly from the catwalk. And yet the shift has so far been met with a resounding no among European designers, who remain largely opposed to this line of unconventional thinking. “The notion of see-now-wear-now, or sell-now, is a negation of dreaming, of desire,” Kering chairman and CEO François-Henri Pinault told WWD back in February. His sentiments were later echoed by Karl Lagerfeld, who upheld the appeal of the traditional show format, telling the Financial Times: “The reality is you have to give people the time to make their choice, to order the clothes or handbags, and to produce them beautifully so that editors can photograph them. This way is chaos.” Or is it?