Image: Saint Laurent

In a release on Monday morning, Saint Laurent announced that it will not present its collections “in any of the pre-set schedules of 2020.” The Paris-based brand, which is owned by luxury goods conglomerate Kering, says that its move away from the traditional fashion month calendar is an attempt to “take ownership of its calendar and launch its collections following a plan conceived with an up-to-date perspective, driven by creativity.”

“Conscious of the current circumstance and its waves of radical change,” a nod to the spread of the COVID-19 and the sizable impact that it has had on brands’ current operations and bottom lines, as well as their plans for the future, “Saint Laurent has decided to take control of its pace and reshape its schedule,” the nearly-60 year old fashion house continues. “Now more than ever, the brand will lead its own rhythm, legitimating the value of time and connecting with people globally by getting closer to them in their own space and lives.”

Speaking to WWD in connection with the announcement, which is the first of its kind among fashion’s biggest names, creative director Anthony Vaccarello says that the change is not the first time that Saint Laurent has done its own thing in terms of scheduling. He says, “The men’s show was already on our schedule, not on the industry calendar,” something that “made it more personal, and not a show just to do a show.”

Meanwhile, Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Bellettini says that they have been working “over the last four years [to] extend the life of our collections in-store, and this strategy will be taken farther by introducing novelties with a timing that better reflects real-life needs and by planning our campaigns to align with it.” Vaccarello echoes this notion, stating, “Our approach to the collections has always been less ‘seasonal’ than what the term usually implies. Each collection is an evolution of what has come before, combining timeless Saint Laurent pieces and new silhouettes.”

Beyond simply altering the show schedule, the brand’s change-making efforts go beyond shows, as it is “looking at how we can create efficiencies in advertising and promotion.” While Bellettini says, “We still plan to advertise this year, as it is pivotal to sustain the brand image and positioning, the release of the campaigns will probably align with the arrival of the collections in the stores, and the media chosen will be those that communicate best with local clientele in each market.” 

Saint Laurent’s industry standard-disrupting announcement follows from an industry-wide revelation that the Spring/Summer 2021 men’s and couture shows in Paris this summer will be digitalized, and the previously-scheduled men’s shows in Milan, which were slated to take place in mid-June, will be combined with the women’s shows in September. While Saint Laurent, which has traditionally showed two womenswear and two menswear shows each year, respectively, in addition to producing two pre-season collections (Pre-Fall and Resort), is the first to confirm that it will move away from the main calendar, other brands are expected to follow suit.

The brand’s parent company Kering, which also owns Gucci, Balenciaga, Bottega Veneta, and Alexander McQueen, among other luxury brands, released its financial results for the first quarter of the year, stating that “the COVID-19 pandemic took a heavy toll on our operations.” Despite “an exceptionally good start to the year in January, before the epidemic began to spread,” Kering reported revenue of $3.476 billion for the first 3 months of 2020, less than 16.4 percent of what it made in the same quarter last year.