New York-based brand, Public School, is the latest to announce that it is changing up its runway show/season model. According to the New York Times’ Vanessa Friedman, the latest update in what she has labeled the “Great Show Shake-Up (GSS)” sees Public School, a favorite brand of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, combining its men’s and women's collections together for two annual shows, which will be staged in December and June.
Friedman notes that Public School will “will focus on 'consumer' activity during normal RTW shows in Sept and Feb. Unclear what that will be. Messy seasons ahead.” But the changes do not stop there. The Public School design duo, which consists of Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, will rename the collections. “No longer ‘A/W’ and ‘S/S’ but ‘collection one’ and ‘collection two,’” per Friedman.
Public School is just the latest in a growing list of brands making rather non-groundbreaking adjustments in what brands are labeling as attempts to better connect with modern-day consumers and to serve them in ways that formerly were not possible. This is all a means of boosting sales again, of course, amidst sluggish growth and widespread consumer fatigue. Yet, instead of going to the root of the problem (and addressing the fact that fashion isn’t really about great design anymore for a large pool of brands and maybe that is why such efforts will not be a source of sustainable growth), the majority of the industry is introducing a huge slew of temporary solutions – superficial ones that will likely be obsolete in due time.
This larger trend makes sense, though. Why go back to the drawing board and address the hard issues, such as the heavily-sped up calendar and the demands it places on designers (and the resulting lack of time and ability to be truly creative), when a bunch of new and probably temporary changes will do the trick? Why focus on fixing an entire industry when logistical changes - think: Introducing a digital-only runway show format; moving your runway show from February to September, etc.; showing in a different location; not showing at all; changing the name of your collections so they are not season-specific; introducing social media bans, rebranding; going fur-free - will suffice? In case you missed it: Fashion does not thrive on depth now.
With that in mind, why would designers bank on something that isn't "in" right now? They won't because it’s not good for business. Not right now when superficiality reigns supreme. Right now, the fashion zeitgeist is fast, it is superficial, and it doesn't care about conceptual fashion gods. It is not demanding the creativity that designers like Raf Simons or Alber Elbaz lament about not having the time to create - the kind of creativity that requires time and requires a real re-working of the industry. That’s just not where we - collectively - are right now. That’s not where the focus is. Simons has sounded off on this exact point. "There is no more thinking time," he said this past fall. But not just limited to designers, the cycle has created a larger feeling that fashion is simply more superficial. It's not personal. It's just business.
So, bravo to the brands following the money in lieu of focusing just on design. (Fashion is a business and a game, after all.) Chances are, however, these brands will need that money when the tides change and distraction-free fashion is in vogue.