What happens when Fashion Week stops being fashionable?
If you’re Rebecca Minkoff, you flip it on its head.
“We talk a lot about wanting to be pioneers and wanting to disrupt,” says the 35-year-old designer, black leather moto draped across her shoulders with rebel insouciance. But most designers continue to maintain the status quo.
“Someone pointed out to us whenever we follow the old way, the way we should go, we never win,” she says. “And the second this person said that, I was like, ‘I’m not scared at all. F— it.’”
This season, Minkoff is ditching the traditional fashion-show system. Today, as New York Fashion Week kicks off, most designers will present their Fall 2016 collections, available to consumers in August.But in our age of social media, images of the clothes are instantly everywhere: blogs, Instagram, live-streams. By the time garments hit the sales floorsix months later, customers are sick of them and onto the next thing.
Minkoff, instead, will show her Spring 2016 line, arriving in storeswithin 30 days. The see-now-buy-now plan better satisfies her plugged-in customer.
“It really gives the fashion show new meaning,” she says. “If a blogger or a celebrity posts an image, it’s now actionable and you can go buy those goods.”
The game-changing decision, announced in December, is also a reaction to an industrywide complaint of fashion fatigue.
“So a year ago, Uri [Minkoff’s brother and cofounder] was like, ‘There’s something wrong. No one is excited,’” recalls the designer. “And I could see the video screen during my show. People looked bored out of their minds. They were on their phones. They weren’t even watching the show. They were just doing this.” Minkoff picks up her phone and pretends to take pictures.” And I was like, ‘I just worked my ass off, and no one is paying attention.’”
So why not just engage the consumer directly? In another radicalmove, Minkoff will invite “top customers” of the brand to her shows.
The designer isn’t the only one gearing up for change.Hours after her big news,the Council of Fashion Designers of America announced that it enlisted Boston Consulting Groupto conduct a seven-week study “to define the future of fashion shows.”
And other designers are breaking free. Tom Ford, Thakoon Panichgul and Matthew Williamson have all announced their own twistson the traditional show. The biggest brand to join the charge isBritish labelBurberry, which announced last week it plans to show “seasonless” men’s and women’s collections together, twice a year. The collections will be available to customers directly after they hit the runway.
While others in the industry wait and watch this go-round, for Minkoff the timing is right.
“Trying to follow the old way and old guard — that whole system never worked for us,” she says. “So now we can just free fall and not be worried about the landing.”