Thursday, 13 October 2011

Milan Fashion Week vs. the world

In last week’s Friday Fashion Fix post, I touched upon the fashion week clash between London, New York and Milan. Milan have decided to shift dates and in doing so, overlap with New York and totally eclipse London. There was little in the way of discussion on Twitter, aside from a brief discussion with my good friend and fellow fashion follower Rosalynn. We are both very strong supporters of London Fashion Week and I invited her to share her thoughts on the Spring/Summer 2013 season.

You may or may not be aware of a situation that will likely affect the Spring/Summer collections next year. In a nutshell, Milan Fashion Week will overlap the end of New York Fashion Week, and will clash with the entirety of London Fashion Week. This is due to a disagreement over a long-standing agreement over when fashion weeks should start and the order they’re scheduled. It has come to a head largely because of the way Thursdays fall in September 2012.

A couple of days ago, Milan confirmed their intention to forge on their plans, much to the protestations of London, New York and many fashion industry leaders.

Rather arrogantly, Camera Nazionale della Moda (CNDM), the organising committee of Milan Fashion Week, proclaimed ‘let the best win’, while London rather limply replied by saying it was ‘disappointed’.

One thing that has amazed me is the deafly silence from bloggers, particularly British bloggers, on this issue. This is why I’m so thankful to Reena for passing me her soapbox from which to shout from.

This is a massive story and threatens to unbalance the entire fashion industry. As things stand, buyers, editors, bloggers and models will have to choose whether they’re Team Milan or Team London (Team New York is less affected as it’s only two days that overlap).

London stands to be the biggest loser.

Conde Nast, owners of Vogue Magazine (among others) have reacted with outrage, and claim they will be boycotting Milan. It remains to be seen whether this happens though – their cries of foul play were before Milan confirmed the move, so it’s likely Conde Nast were posturing in the (vein) hope CNDM would reconsider.

It’s also worth noting that Italy is a huge source of revenue for Vogue, and to exclude Milan will likely jeopardise their relationship with Italian advertisers. The idea that Vogue Italia will side with London Fashion Week to me seems far-fetched at best.

London is my favourite after Paris because it is the least commercial. Ironically this is why it stands to lose the most – money talks.

London is exciting, unpredictable and is a great stage for emerging talent. It is, though, the shortest of the big-four fashion weeks, often editors and buyers will miss the first day (making a short week shorter) and it is normally the first to lose out against the more commercial fashion weeks.

With regards to the models, we’ve already seen this year how much clout Milan has when Gucci shortchanged several London shows by recalling their models to Milan meaning shows like Todd Lynn lost over half of their cast to Milan. Milan carries with it a lot of prestige; models will trip over themselves to appear for big-hitters such as Versace, Gucci and Dolce & Gabanna.

Buyers will have to consider whether to split their teams or send to one fashion week over another. Once again, if the trend is towards Milan, London becomes yet weaker commercially.

So, London stands to lose a lot. International bloggers will have to make a decision too. If everything else goes against London, so too will the international bloggers.

British bloggers are great spokespeople for the British fashion industry, and their coverage during London Fashion Week is among the best in the world, but I hope they realise just what an ominous situation London Fashion Week is facing.

On a personal note, I think Milan Fashion Week is tacky, bloated and overrated. I also think the fact they have pitched themselves against London, not New York, shows that, despite their cocksure rhetoric, they’re obviously not that confident in their ability to win hence they’re taking on the weakest fashion week commercially-speaking.

I find Milan’s attitude arrogant, obstructive and totally against the spirit of fashion month. If I have to make the choice, London Fashion Week will always win against Milan. I don’t have any commercial interest in fashion week, though, and the editors, buyers, models and international bloggers most certainly do, and this is why I feel that London Fashion Week has become the whipping boy in an argument that unfortunately everyone stands to lose from.

I echo Rosalynn’s thoughts regarding London Fashion Week, it is one of the most exciting weeks but it is also one of the least commercial. But it is the place where you will discover the big-name designers of tomorrow, the Lee McQueens and Sarah Burtons, the Gareth Pughs and Stella McCartneys. For the last few seasons, Burberry has been one of the shining beacons of LFW with editors, buyers and international bloggers making the bi-annual visit to their show. This past season, Tom Ford added some addition star power to the roster and the stunning Abbey Lee Kershaw was seen strutting down several catwalks for our London designers. It’s such a shame that Milan has thrown London such a huge curve ball as it was coming into its own.

I think above all, this is an issue of creativity vs. commerciality, London’s creativity pitted against Milan’s commerciality. Realistically if Milan sticks to its guns then London will lose. Money talks. But ultimately fashion cannot be fashion without creativity. I would absolutely love to know your thoughts on the impending schedule clash. 
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