Fashion weeks are fashion industry events, lasting approximately one week. Fashion designers, brands, or “houses” display their collections in runway fashion shows to a crowd of buyers, fashionistas, and the media.
These events influence trends for the current and upcoming seasons.
Although there are many fashion weeks around the world, only four known as the “Big Four”; New York, London, Milan, and Paris. These capitals receive great attention, attracting buyers, the media, celebrities, top models, hottest designers, fashionistas, and huge press coverage.
In February and March, designers showcased their autumn and winter collections. In September and October, designers showcased their spring and summer collections. The timing followed the then slower retail cycle. These allow time for retailers to purchase and incorporate the designers into their retail marketing. However, in 2016, designers started moving to “in-season shows.”
Designers have increasingly shown inter-seasonal collections between the traditional Autumn/Winter and Spring/Summer seasons. These collections are usually more commercial than the main season collections. They help shorten the customer’s wait for new season clothes. The inter-seasonal collections are Resort/Cruise (before Spring/Summer) and Pre-Fall (before Autumn/Winter).
See now, buy now
In recent years, shows have begun to feature garments that are available for sale immediately, online, or in stores. The other move has been to “see now, buy now” shows. Often features clickable video, where looks are available online immediately following, or even during the show. The advent of “see now, buy now” shopping has also come about in response to so-called “fast fashion” retailers. Retailers copy designs from the runway and bring them to retail faster than traditional design houses.
A fashion show at one of the major Fashion Weeks can easily run from 300,000 dollars to 1 million dollars. Incorporating the price of models, set design, lighting, sound, and all the other elements.
Key organizations organize the main shows, but there are independent events and producers in all cities, as well.
NEW YORK FASHION WEEK
New York City shop called Ehrich Brothers put on the country’s first fashion show. The aim was to lure middle-class women into the store in 1903. By 1910, many big department stores were holding shows of their own. These “parades” were an effective way to promote stores and improve their status.
These shows were usually staged and more theatrical heavily based upon a single theme, and accompanied with a narrative commentary. The shows were hugely popular, enticing crowds in their thousands – crowds so large, that stores in New York in the 1950s had to obtain a license to have live models.
The first-ever fashion week, initially called Press Week was held in 1943 to give fashion buyers alternatives to French fashion during World War II. Stakeholders in the fashion industry were unable to travel to Paris due to canceled show because of Nazi occupation.
Eleanor Lambert invited the media to Press Week in New York as a chance for American designers to showcase their innovations, gain international attention and thus divert attention from Paris.
New York City has over 5,000 fashion showrooms, more than any other city in the world, and hosts over 75 major fashion trade shows and market weeks.
New York Fashion Weeks Facts
- The first of the “big four” New York kicks off fashion month as the first city.
- Outgrew “the tents” of Manhattan’s Bryant Park and moved to the Lincoln Center for Performing Arts in 2010
- Known for showcasing more ready-to-wear styles.
- The two New York Fashion Weeks (NYFW) held in February and September each year account for nearly 900 million dollars in economic impact annually.
What to Wear
New York Fashion Week is the most “casual” of all three. Therefore, you are at liberty to showcase your style in a casual look.
PARIS FASHION WEEK
Paris began the concept of fashion week when marketers used to hire women to wear couture items in public places, from racetracks to salons. These parades gradually began to become social events of their own.
In France, runway shows are still called “défilés de mode” which when translated literally means “fashion showings.” Défilés de mode were held in Paris as early as the 18th century as a commercial exchange between clients and designers. The garments were initially shown on stiff mannequins. It wasn’t until the 1850s when the father of Haute Couture, Charles Frederick Worth, first toyed with the idea of presenting his pieces on women in action–and thus, the role of fashion model was born.
Paris began holding couture shows in 1945, The first Paris fashion week began in 1973 under the French Fashion Federation and was supervised by the founder of New York Fashion Week, Eleanor Lambert. This event was the first time that collections of Haute Couture, prêt-à-porter, and menswear were showcased together in Paris.
In 1984, Thierry Mugler became the first fashion designer to give the French public access to a fashion show. Mugler orchestrated a grandiose runway performance for his Fall/Winter 1984 collection. And so, the runway show marked the first fashion show open to the public.
Paris is known for its iconic international fashion houses, including Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Hermes, Yves Saint Laurent, and Christian Dior. Over 300 fashion shows are held yearly as well as 27 professional trade fairs with over 14 000 exhibitors.
Paris fashion week is the final stop. A lot of people say it’s leaving the best for last as it’s the most anticipated Fashion Week. It’s all about haute couture in Paris. Elegance and creativity are at the core of the Paris shows. Everything in Paris feels like the epitome of class and artistic imagination.
Paris Fashion Weeks facts
- Organized by the French Fashion Federation
- Paris’ haute couture shows take place in Paris in January and July.
- Hosts the finale of the “big four” Fashion Weeks
- Showcases the major designers’ collections.
- Haute couture is only shown in Paris due to rules set down by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture.
- Haute Couture houses are determined based on a set of rules predicated by the standards of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. According to these rules, a house must present a collection of at least 35 pieces (including both daytime and evening wear) per season.
- Paris is the longest Fashion Week amongst the four major ones going for 9 days. market sources calculate 10.3 billion euros in sales are achieved on average.
- According to the Fédération De La Haute Couture Et De La Mode, Paris Fashion Week generate 1,2 billion euros in economic spinoffs yearly.
- Paris Fashion Week prohibits models who are under 18 years of age.
- According to French law, Fashion Week will completely disallow models with “size zero” to attend.
What to Wear
Paris is the time to showcase your most luxe outfits you. Don’t be shy adorning that gown.
MILAN FASHION WEEKs
Milan Fashion Week was founded by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in 1958. It showcases all of the hot Italian runway trends from top fashion. As far back as the Middle Ages, Milan was a style powerhouse that produced high-end luxury goods such as shoes, dresses, robes, and jewelry. Today, the Italian city of Milan is one of the fashion and design capitals of the world.
Milan is home to over 12,000 fashion companies, 800 showrooms, and 6,000 stores, including top brands like Armani, Prada, Valentino, and Versace. ’Made in Italy’ generates in excess of 37 million euros per season.
The aura is glamor and sex appeal during this fashion week. Most of the designers showcase hard-hitting collections that feature form-fitting pieces. The event attracts more than 22,000 visitors each season with major Italian brands headline the event, up-and-coming designers also have an opportunity to promote their brands.
Notably, Alibaba Group’s B2C e-commerce platform Tmall has brought emerging Chinese designers to the latest edition of Milan Fashion Week.
Milan Fashion Weeks Facts
- Organized by the National Chamber for Italian Fashion
- Immediately follows London Fashion Week
- Exhibiting designers have included luxury Italian designers Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Versace, and Prada
- Sources show that although Milan Fashion Week attracts fewer visitors than Paris, New York, and London, the city’s visitors spend more on average than at other fashion events – nearly 2,000 euros each. This means that the local economy adds about 37 million euros per season.
- MFW goes big on sex appeal. Think form-fitting outfits with an emphasis on traditional craftsmanship – all oozing Italian sex appeal.
What to Wear
Slim fitted high-end pieces are the way to go. Oh, and it’s time to show some skin so go for it!
LONDON FASHION WEEKs
London Fashion Week was founded by the British Fashion Council in 1984. The maiden London Fashion Week was held inside a white tent which was organized by Annette Worsley – Tylor. This fashion week witnessed the career launch of big fashion names Alexander McQueen and Roland Mouret.
London’s fashion influence dates back to the Elizabethan era, and even now, it’s not uncommon to see oversized Elizabethan collars and ruffs on London runways. Today, the city has an international reputation for being creative and trendsetting, as well as combining fashion influences from around the globe
The United Kingdom’s fashion industry supports an estimated 800,000 jobs, which includes plenty of high-fashion and catwalk gigs for both female and male models. The fashion industry is worth over 32 billion pounds to the UK economy.
The fashion week is a hub of innovation and hugely welcoming to newcomers, amateur fashion designers, and is known for being far more experimental, open and edgy than its counterparts. This is because it is the newest fashion week of the four. The fashion week also exhibits accessories, footwear, jewelry that mix and match the entire trends for both Men and Women clothing.
London Fashion Weeks Facts
- Organized by the British Fashion Council
- London is the youngest fashion week out of the big four
- Immediately follows New York Fashion Week
- Held in Somerset House
- First major show to live stream the event
- Introduced men’s collections in 2012
- With more than 5,000 press and buyers in attendance, exceeds coverage of most major news and worldwide sports events
- sources indicate that London Fashion Week generates over 100 million pounds in clothes orders on an annual basis. It employs an international workforce that includes more than 10,000 European staff.
- The fashion show embarks more than 250 designers to influencers and media across the globe on the particular event making it one of the most admired fashion weeks on the earth.
What To Wear
Your fearless moment, get experimental. Style anything any way you want because you are at liberty to.
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