What exactly is a pre-collection anyway?

Consider them the more low-key, real-life cousins to the runway extravaganzas you see photos of during the fashion weeks. Increasingly big sellers in stores, pre-collections are usually more wearable.

While the clothes you see on a prêt-a-porter catwalk often look more appropriate for a fantastical magazine shoot than the street, the pre-collections are created to work in a woman’s every wardrobe. And they’re often shown in modest presentations in showrooms instead of big productions. (Though it’s worth noting that more resort ’11 collections were shown as runway shows this season than ever before).

They also give a hint at what direction a designer might go in for the prêt-a-porter season. For example, the military trend first sur­faced in a Burberry Prorsum pre-fall collection.

Pictured above and right is a look at a few resort ’11 standouts.

According to the experts

Helen David, womenswear, Harrods:
“Pre-collections ensure that we always have new merchandise arriving on the floor,” explains Helen David, the womenswear general merchandise manager at Harrods in London, England. “They allow us to continue to offer the full priced customer new merchandise during the sale period, which is imperative to being able to look after this customer all year round,” she adds. David notes that pre-collections are great because they’re also the most commercial delivery and sit on the sales floor at full price for the longest time. “So they drive the business while offering a great selection to the customer,” she says.