French fashion's governing organization — the Fédération Française de la Couture du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode — has considered and rejected the idea of "buy now, see now" collections to which several British and American brands have already converted, according to a report in WWD. A request for comment from the federation was not immediately returned.
The federation president Ralph Toledano (no relation to Dior CEO Sidney Toledano) told the trade publication: "Our clientele is educated and informed on how the system works." A task force comprised of Dior's Toledano, Chanel president of fashion Bruno Pavlovsky, Saint Laurent CEO Francesca Bellettini and an executive vice president at Hermès reviewed the alternative format in the wake of the CFDA's announcement that it is exploring the idea, as well as commitments to adjust schedules by Burberry, Tom Ford and Tommy Hilfiger. The federation's board, which represents the aforementioned houses as well as Nina Ricci, Balenciaga, Lanvin, Maison Margiela and many more, unanimously voted against the idea.
Ralph Toledano argued that not only are clients accustomed to waiting for collections to hit stores, but the wait increases their desire for the product — a sentiment shared recently by Kering CEO Francois-Henri Pinault. Toledano also said the consumer-facing "buy now, see now" model makes sense for "marketing-driven brands." A.P.C. designer Jean Touitou made the same point in an interview during New York Fashion Week, saying the change was a "trick for press." On a practical level, Toledano said changing the schedule would be difficult because of the time it takes to create the level of craftsmanship in French fashion collections — "the highlight of fashion weeks all over the world" — and competitive, creative designers would not be able to sit on collections for four weeks or more before showing it to the public. In addition, Toledano believes there would be no way to avoid leaked imagery.
According to WWD's report, Toledano is more concerned with the discrepancy between when collections hit stores and the weather, which has been a big downer for shoppers this winter, though he didn't provide a solution. Toledano did not address how the federation would deal with brands like Vetements, who present collections in Paris but intend to show in-season collections going forward. He did add that the federation will organize and streamline the pre-season Paris calendars, however.
Unlike French fashion's governing body, the New York-based CFDA has yet to make an official decision about consumer-facing runway shows, though the decision is Paris is sure to impact their conclusion.