20 June 2016
Menswear shows traditionally held months before the women hit the runways later in the year, are being slowly airbrushed from the fashion industry’s calendar and folded into the women’s events, almost as an accessory.
In Milan, where male models are strutting their stuff in shows for men’s fashion week, 10 designers have decided not to showcase their collections this year.
They include Calvin Klein, Ermenegildo Zegna, Kering’s Brioni and Bottega Veneta.
Other brands, including Burberry, Gucci and Tom Ford, have announced in recent months that they plan to stage combined events in future.
Most said this would allow them to show buyers and customers both collections at the same time, giving a more complete idea of their designs.
But some industry insiders and analysts said separate men’s fashion shows, which could cost up to hundreds of thousands of dollars each, were no longer worth the money for luxury brands.
According to the insiders and analysts, this is as a result of a global sales slowdown.
Men’s wear pulls in far less money than women’s wear in terms of sales, and men’s shows generate a fraction of the global publicity of women’s.
“The women’s brands are focusing on what has the highest return on investment,” said Bernstein analyst Mario Ortelli.
The women’s shows draw A-list celebrities such as George Clooney and Beyonce in their front rows, attract throngs of news photographers and broadcasters and trend wildly on social media.
In contrast, men’s catwalk doesn’t turn as many heads with their low-key guest lists.
Focusing even more heavily on women’s shows could further widen the gulf between global sales of women’s wear and men’s wear.
Annual designer men’s wear sales are expected to reach more than 40 billion dollars in 2020, up 6.8 per cent from 2015, according to Euro monitor International, while women’s wear sales are expected to rise 7.7 per cent to about 75 billion dollars in the same period.
The warning signs for male models flashed four months ago when both Burberry and Tom Ford said they would hold combined shows.
Italian luxury brand Gucci followed suit in April, announcing it would merge its collections and shows which would commence in 2016.
Bottega Veneta also said it would integrate its shows for its 50th anniversary, though not confirming whether it would continue doing so in the future.
“Although men’s wear has acquired more of a standing over the years, the women’s shows are still the most important, with many more brands focusing on women,’’ said Vick Mihaci, the President of Elite Management.
But industry experts explained that fashion shows were not as cost-effective as they once were and that the industry had to pay greater attention to costs as world demand for luxury goods had weakened.
Social media is heavily influencing the industry, speeding up demand for new products, but also allowing fashion brands to reach out to potential customers more directly and inexpensively.
Elizabeth Rose, Director of the men’s section at Premier Model Management, said that although merging male and female shows was in the best interest of designers, it was a “disaster” for the male modelling sector.
But 50-year-old model John Pearson is philosophical.
“Ultimately, it’s the women who lead in fashion, and the men will always tag along,” he said.