At a CFDA panel back in January, CFDA CEO and President Steven Kolb discussed the prospect of a summer/winter show schedule. It seemed that the American fashion organization was excited by the possibility that it could lure back some of its lost talent — brands like Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Altuzarra which have migrated to Paris — and perhaps even revolutionize the traditional fashion calendar as we know it.
"If that business model holds true, more brands will migrate — I wouldn't be surprised if you see them come back to New York and line up with Alex — and those who don't will stop showing; they'll transition to market appointments," Kolb said at the time. "This is the first time that possibility seems real to me."
Well, the first official June fashion week calendar is here, and things are looking decidedly less optimistic. WWD reports that the dates are set for Sunday, June 3 to Thursday, June 7 — and that, over the course of five days, only four designers have committed to showing Spring 2019: Alexander Wang (whose announcement that he, too, would abandon the New York Fashion Week calendar is what sent the CFDA scrambling in the first place), Narciso Rodriguez, Rosie Assoulin and Lorod. Kolb conceded that Saint Laurent, which has planned a fashion show in New York City on June 6, did so "independently" of the CFDA's new calendar.
Other brands have committed to showing resort collections, which often happens between the end of May and the beginning of July anyway: Diane von Furstenberg, Lela Rose, Badgley Mischka, Carolina Herrera, Anna Sui and Rag & Bone are amongst the brands consolidating their resort presentations to that week.
Kolb, who said back in January that there were "other brands" interested in the shift (WWD says Sies Marjan, Altuzarra, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and The Row were all in the mix), is clearly disappointed in the final results. "The commitment for the shift is limited," he told WWD. "I'm not sure why that is."
Surely, the fact that the schedule is an untested ground is a factor; there's also the fact that, with so few anchor brands, it's unlikely that much international press would travel to New York for the week, if any at all. On top of these issues, the timing does not seem particularly great even for locals: The Governors Ball music festival and the Veuve Clicquot Polo Classic are both happening that weekend, followed by the CFDA Awards scheduled for Monday, June 4. WWD points out that many teams will now have to work that weekend — not an uncommon occurrence during typical fashion months, of course, but not exactly desirable at the beginning of summer. (Kolb notes that Wang chose the Sunday night time slot himself, dictating the starting day of the new fashion week; "At the end of the day, the brands are going to do what they want to do.")
Planning a winter fashion week will assuredly provide even more scheduling challenges, but Kolb seems determined to push forward, as has been the case with the struggling New York Fashion Week: Men's calendar. "We try it once, we try it two times. Maybe we try it three or four times," he told WWD. "At any point it's not working, then you stop doing it."
Still, it doesn't change the fact that, for a much-hyped industry change, the first summer fashion week is looking like a bit of a bust. And no one seems more frustrated than Kolb himself.
"We respond to what the industry wants, right? We don't sit here at CFDA and decide what's right or wrong. We service the designers, we service the industry. So when there is a swell of interest in an idea, we pursue that idea," he told WWD. "We react, and of course, we strategize and are proactive. We did this, because we met here in January. I met with brands — big brands — and only one of them is there."