New York gets its own menswear week
A week before the autumn-winter 2015 womenswear collections are due to kick off in New York, the Council of Fashion Designers of America finally confirmed the rumours that have been floating around and announced that it is creating a standalone menswear week, to take place from July 13 to 16.
“There are many reasons the CFDA is launching New York Fashion Week: Men’s,” Steven Kolb, chief executive of the council, said on the group’s blog. “It gives the designers a business platform to show during their market dates, and is an opportunity to demonstrate the collective talent of an important segment of our industry.”
This will be the first-ever dedicated New York Fashion Week: Men’s and follows the much-ballyhooed success (as well as the name) of London Collections: Men, introduced in 2012.
It also follows every other men’s fashion week on the schedule (London, June 12-15; Milan, June 20-23; Paris, June 24-28), as well as couture (July 5-10), making the menswear season almost as demanding and time-consuming as womenswear, and eating well into everyone’s summer.
It may well revive the old accusations oft-lobbied at womenswear designers who showed during New York Fashion Week in the old days (for those of us who remember), when it used to take place after the European shows: that they were copying what they had seen overseas. In part to prove them wrong, New York jumped to the head of the pack in 1998.
Perhaps understandably, not all New York brands are committed to the idea yet — Ralph Lauren is still mulling, apparently, and Calvin Klein and Thom Browne, both of which normally show in Milan, are hedging their bets by sticking to their European shows while also committing to hold unspecified events during New York: Men’s.
“We don’t imagine everyone can participate this first season,” Mr. Kolb wrote in an email this morning while on his way to a spin class. “Some are already contracted elsewhere or have commitments otherwise. Some I imagine will wait and see and want to make sure it is well done. It will be.”
The brands that show their men’s collections as part of New York’s womenswear schedule, such as Public School and Duckie Brown, are, understandably, psyched.
However, this smacks a bit of me-too-ism to me (London is getting so much positive press! We should get some too!). I know menswear is supposed to be the future of fashion, and yadda yadda yadda, but at the same time, the whole concept of shows reeks of the past.
The industry keeps talking about what’s next. Is the answer really more of the same?
And it is asking a lot financially and personally for international media and buyers to take an extra American trip in July — at least when London was added, everyone was already planning to be in Europe for the other menswear shows. That is not the case with the United States. (Unless a trip to the Hamptons was already on their itinerary for the summer.)
Admittedly, next season, which falls in February 2016, this will be less of an issue: The men’s shows will simply move to the week before the women’s shows, so people will be on their way over anyway. That does mean we will have almost a continuous two and a half months of shows from January to March 2016, between men’s, couture and women’s. But hey, who’s counting.
In any case, Mr. Kolb and the CFDA are managing expectations. “This first season is not being built with the notion that we will attract European press and buyers, although we have plans to bring a very few key people to New York,” he said. “Season one is about building a solid foundation on which we can grow to be more international. I feel the success of what we are creating will attract them in the future.”
Now the onus is on the council to make the inaugural New York Fashion Week: Men’s really something.
On the plus side, Amazon, which has long been trying to get into the high-fashion game, sponsoring the Met Ball in 2012, will be the presentation sponsor. (Meanwhile, Yahoo is the main sponsor of the Met Ball this year; interesting, no?) Amazon has deep coffers, a willingness to spend and — more importantly, perhaps — an aura of connectivity.
Let the menswear push begin.
© The New York Times 2015