After announcing its aim to reevaluate the format of New York Fashion Week back in December, the CFDA released its study results with Boston Consulting Group on Thursday morning. Over the course of six weeks, the two organizations conducted nearly 50 formal interviews with industry insiders — mostly designers, but also retailers, members of the press, influencers and corporations who are regularly involved in the fashion space.
While the study expanded in depth on the conversation that's already surrounding the traditional twice-yearly format, the CFDA hasn't exactly come up with a solid solution, but rather a clear call for change. Their results highlight the industry's main challenges, or "recurring ideas," such as in-season relevancy, newness perceived by consumers and creative burnout among designers.
The study also provides a few potential models for designers, both young and established, to choose from, such as intimate presentations four to six months before the collection's deliveries; biannual, in-season activations geared towards consumers; or offering capsule collections available immediately after a traditional runway show. Other alternative solutions, include merging men's and women's collections; merging main and pre-season collections; or adopting the timing of the pre-collection calendar (December and June).
Another challenge that the CFDA addresses in the study is the industry's favor towards shifting delivery dates later to better match with the seasons. (Perhaps the poor sales on last year's inventory of winter coats was a red flag.) The association's "strong call for action" involves a targeted dialogue specifically between brands and retailers.
Although the ideas and models addressed by the CFDA aren't entirely new and have been practiced by designers — and have been covered by many outlets (including Fashionista) in the past — it's good that the association has carried out a more formal approach to these issues and is offering its designers options and the resources to carry out those decisions. A concluding statement in the study says, "Ultimately, it is up to the brands to decide what works best for them, and the CFDA will support designers as they experiment and define what is right for their collections."
Judging from the myriad of formats that designers adopted this past New York Fashion Week — from Rebecca Minkoff's consumer-facing runway show to "see now, buy now" capsule collections by Michael Kors and Proenza Schouler, among others — experimentation is already underway and will surely continue. According to the CFDA's study, they want to "alleviate the pressure for designers and brands to conform to a singular model." So it's only a matter of time for these brands, and New York Fashion Week as a whole, to figure out what will actually stick.