Amidst the latest round of rumors that New York is slated to provide menswear designers with their own bi-annual week (or several days) of fashion, distinct from the womenswear shows (The New York Times has reported that the CFDA sent out emails to men’s designers in October about whether they would prefer a New York Men’s Week, which would happen sometime after the Fourth of July), here is a throwback to an article discussing the merits (and really, the necessity) of such a move …
Michael Bastian skipped New York Fashion Week in September and for good reason. The celebrated menswear designer, who was honored with the CFDA Menswear Designer of the Year Award in 2011, held private appointments in his NYC showroom, a schedule that is much more in line with the European one, in lieu of a runway show in September. You may recall that menswear designers in London, Milan and Paris showed their Spring/Summer 2015 collections in June. Of his decision to skip the upcoming NYFW S/S 2015 shows, Bastian said: “September for men’s just doesn’t really work. July is when we’re still selling the collection. It made no sense to show in September. Men’s buyers are in town for Project.” And he didn’t stop there: “At some point, we’re going to figure it out in New York, but until then, it made sense to try do something in July.” He is likely referring to NYC’s failure to provide men’s fashion brands with their own “week” (London shows its London Collections: Men for just a few days) in June. It appears that this likely isn’t a one season stint for Bastian, saying: “I do love shows, and when the time is right, we’ll do it again.”
Yes, a handful of menswear brands are getting their own day in September thanks to the two-season old New York Men’s Day initiative, but that is arguably not enough. With the exception of the relatively few New York-based designers who can afford to pack up and showed small presentations in Paris during the June European men’s shows (which is a significant expense for young bands) or those that have moved to showing in these cities altogether, U.S. designers will have to wait until September to show their S/S 2015 collections, and this is actually quite detrimental to their businesses.
The staging of a New York Men’s Week (or several days) each January and June (in line with the European show schedule) would be worthwhile for several reasons, but maybe most importantly, New York-based designers are at a substantial disadvantage in terms of buying. The purpose of fashion week is, or at least was, to show collections to buyers and to have those collections stocked by major retailers. From what we’ve gathered by talking to an array of NYC-based menswear brands, they face serious obstacles in comparison to their European counterparts because by the time buyers see their collections (in September and February, or maybe at the Project trade show in New York each July), the majority of the stockists’ menswear budgets have already been allocated.
I think it is safe to assume that until the Council of Fashion Designers of America and IMG Fashion (two of the key parties behind New York Fashion Week) provide men’s fashion brands with the proper platform for showing their collections in New York in line with the January and June schedules, the brands that can afford to do so will continue to leave New York in favor of more menswear-friendly cities. Sure, Bastian is not leaving New York, but others have and it is difficult to blame them, considering menswear brands are simply not given the support they need to compete on a truly international level.
Moreover, given the numbers, menswear simply cannot be ignored. In late 2011, market analysts revealed that menswear was growing twice as fast as womenswear in the luxury sector. Bain & Co revealed in 2011 that the luxury menswear market, which makes up 40 percent of the global market, is worth nearly $250 billion, and is currently growing by 14 per cent per year, while womenswear is only growing by eight per cent. More recent reports reveal even more growth. BOF reported in June that in the US alone, men’s apparel sales grew 5 percent in 2013 to over $60 billion, actually outperforming womenswear. And menswear brands all over the world are acting accordingly. Brands (and retailers) have moved to expand their menswear offerings, introducing broader product ranges and, in some cases, menswear-specific stores (think: the his and hers Balenciaga stores in Soho, for instance; Hermès, Lanvin, Gucci, Ralph Lauren, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada have also opened menswear-specific brick and mortar locations).
It is about time New York caught up. Thoughts?