The Future of Men's Fashion Week

12:06 PM

Before we dive into London Collections Men let's first explore the conundrum on the state of Men's Fashion Week. MFW doesn't have the same fanfare and build up that 'Woman's' Fashion Week does, but it is a staple in the fashion calendar and it is important for multiple reasons. New York even caught up to the times by creating their own NY Men's Fashion Week last year after years of being absent. While women are typically stereotyped to shop or tend to be more "fashion conscious" than their male counterparts we have seen, especially recently, that men have become more and more interested in developing their own sense of style.

Recently Business of Fashion published an article declaring #Menswear (the movement) being dead. Which sounds like a bad thing, but it doesn't mean that the interest in men's clothing is dead. To simplify it essentially means that men are shopping and wearing clothes outside of the traditional Menswear looks of the professional suit & tie. They are purchasing more streetwear inspired items (a la Alexander Wang & Public School) and experimenting with higher end brands, quirkier pieces (like Saint Laurent & Gucci). There's more variety out there than ever for men with plenty of opportunities for creativity and experimental expression, and yet designers are dropping like flies out of Men's Fashion Week.  

Brands like Gucci and Burberry announced they were doing away with gender specific shows, instead merging the collections together into a "genderless" (and in some cases seasonless) one. Milan Men's Fashion Week staples: Calvin Klein, Cavalli, and Ermanno Scervino have opted out. In Paris, Saint Laurent is out as well. For New York, Public School held their showing early, adopting an off calendar show approach instead. For some of these shows they are likely one time only absences as both Calvin Klein and Saint Laurent are in the middle of creative director changes however others are permanent. Without big names will there still be a draw? Will buyers, writers, even casual viewers be interested in attending? Or will this force smaller brands to change how they present their collections to the public? 

There's many reasons why showing men's & women's collections together makes sense. The first is a financial one, showing them together cuts the standard number of shows from four to two - in some cases from six or more if there are 'Pre' collections, 'Resort' collections, Couture... This saves a fortune in costs of developing the collections, securing the locations, etc. etc. The second is a creativity one for brands that market to both genders and for designers that create both. Raf Simons' left Dior due to what he described as a 'creative burnout' from the shear number of collections he was expected to produce - it left him feeling that there was not enough time to left ideas simmer before being shuffled to the next collection. Merging collections together will allow for greater creativity and innovation as there is more time between the next collection and the last. The third is a social one. Society has become more and more gender-fluid on many levels but specifically in fashion with women and men alike picking from each others closets and there being less of a need for gender specific clothing. Additionally, there usually is the same creative inspiration between men's and women's collections, so why show them separate when they can be seen together? 

Creating one collection for both genders simplifies things for buyers, editors, designers, and planners but it also is a practical decision going against the traditional Fashion Calendar. Within this past year the designers have argued that the old calender is behind the times and is due for an overhaul. And yet, what about the designers that cater to only men? What does this all mean for the future of Men's Fashion Week?

It could mean that in an attempt to hold on to the gender specific weeks there may be a shift to presentation shows instead of runway. Saving costs for brands and allow designers without big name appeal to still draw people to their shows. It also could mean for those who are menswear only designers without womenswear to merge into may look to integrating into "Woman's Fashion Week". However this may be problematic with an already bursting at the seams schedule meaning that fashion weeks may need to lengthen or cut designers from their schedule. New York's schedule alone is often overflowing - and try as they might - with many designers overlapping and running over. This also could mean that womanswear brands end up overshadowing menswear brands. And it is nice for men's to have their own week, for menswear only designers to be able to showcase their work. Just because there isn't the same pomp & circumstance that comes with the Women's weeks doesn't mean it should just get shoved aside. So much talent would be wasted by eliminating it.

Ultimately, as things do, they change. Like the shift to genderless/seasonless collections Men's Fashion Week (along with Women's Fashion Week) will continue to evolve with the times. For right now, it doesn't appear that Men's Fashion Week is going anywhere, but it will be interesting to see where it may end up over the next couple years.

For more reads on Men's Fashion Week check out these articles:
(Top Photo: Dan Sims // Center Photo: Mr. Lance Chung // Bottom Photo: Seth Wenig)

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