Lessons in New Luxury 4: Fashion Week edition

The real SS20 “trends” might not be what you’d think

Woman wearing pink walking down a catwalk
Christian Siriano’s SS20 collection in NY was inspired by current pop artists and celebrates female empowerment | Photo: Shutterstock

Fashion Week, or rather “weeks”, is changing. And that’s not a bad thing.

In our Lessons in New Luxury series so far (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3), we’ve seen the many ways in which luxury brands are looking for new ways to appeal to younger generations and customer journeys.

In particular, we know that designers and fashion houses, some of them digital natives themselves, are trying to play by the new rules of retail, defined by values like diversity, inclusivity, sustainability, and wow factor.

What better way to see how these tactics are playing out than during one of the biggest fashion moments of the year?

With just Paris left to show, let’s see how they’ve done so far!

Diversity & inclusivity: People that actually look like us

Side-by-side images of female models walking down a catwalk
Chromat shows everybody every body at NYFW.

Let’s face it, Fashion Week isn’t great at making (most) people feel represented. We’re happy to see that some designers are finally choosing to reflect more of us, our tribes, and in many cases, themselves.

And rarely are our clothed bodies more on display than in swimwear.

Chromat, led by Becca McCharen-Tran, used the New York show to represent bods of all colors, shapes, and sizes in its bright neon styles. Never shying away from messages of body positivity, this year’s show featured Tess Holliday, curve blogger, donned with a bathing suit reading “Sample Size”. McCharen-Tran is known for promoting diversity and inclusivity, regularly casting trans, plus-sized, disabled, and confident models.

Roland Mouret’s London catwalk featured people of many colors and sizes, just as you’d see them on the street (except probably more beautiful, they are models after all). Mouret’s styles also celebrate the curves of women and give a nod toward gender fluidity. In other words, they’d look amazing on just about everybody and every body.

There were many more examples of shows that upped their game when it came to representation, with New York still the leader, at least for now.

Speaking of shows that promote body positivity….

Digital strategy: Fashion Week is more accessible than ever

Rihanna and other women standing on cubes
Reigning queen of FWNY and her court. | Photo: Fenty

Rihanna’s killing it. The bad girl, singer-songwriter, fashion icon, LVMH partner, and DTC champ, has always known how to put on a show.

Not only does her brand and show put diversity and body positivity at the forefront, we are awed by her business savvy and digital strategy.

Rihanna announced on her personal Instagram account that her September 10th show would be aired exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on the 20th. With an estimated 100 million Prime subscribers in the US alone, the “Coachella for underwear” was made available in more than 200 countries.

No surprise, given the show’s star power from the likes of Riri herself, Bella & Gigi Hadid, and more. Performing were artists like Diplo, Halsey, and other Gen Z faves. Way to keep up the hype even up to 10 days after the show itself.

Once exclusively an event for the rich, famous and involved, the rise of social media influencers has forced all of the fashion weeks to “plug in” to the digital world. This year, Fashion Week has opened up seats to the public for the very first time, with London being the first to invite the public to grab a seat.

Sustainability: Offsetting the climate cost of Fashion Week

Woman in mustard dress walking down catwalk
Gabriela Hearst makes sustainability the center of her NYFW show. | Photo: Elle

Sustainability is top-of-mind and social feeds these days, and it seems like everybody’s eyes are on the fashion industry. Set to the backdrop of major wildfires in the Amazon rainforest, the SS20 shows have been subject to protests by groups like Extinction Rebellion in London.

The industry can’t turn a blind eye, especially when about 75% of millennials are altering buying habits due to environmental concerns. Recently, more than 30 top companies signed the “G7 Fashion Pact” which revolves around science-based targets for restoring biodiversity, preserving oceans, and keeping global warming below 1.5ºC until 2100.

With so much scrutiny befalling the industry, how is it translating in shows?

In New York, Gabriela Hearst held the 1st-ever, 100% “carbon-neutral” show by minimizing transportation, energy usage, and waste. She also worked with advisory firm EcoAct to calculate the cost to offset her carbon footprint, later donating this money to related charities.

We also saw carbon-neutral shows from other major brands, such as Burberry (London), and Gucci (Milan). The Italian powerhouse will attempt to balance its carbon emissions by funding carbon savings elsewhere through “credits” accumulated during the year which will then be turned over to forest conservation groups through the UN’s REDD+ initiative.

We expect to see more carbon-neutral shows in the future. In fact, Paris plans to go carbon and one-use plastic free for all of its shows in 2020.

Best in show: Tradition and innovation

Fashion ex machina: Rag & Bone gets 3D with AI. | Photo: AFP

There are some fashion houses like Gucci and Versace that always deliver. I mean, did you see the J-Lo Versace moment?

While we’re never disappointed by big-budget, fashion royalty shows, we also love to see others take a different route..

After a three-year hiatus, Rag & Bone was back in New York to show of their SS20 ready-to-wear collection and their robot.

Yes, that’s right. The show featured a huge UR10 robotic camera arm which captured the one-hour show both from a traditional point of view as well as a through a representation of how AI would see it — through the eyes of a robot.

Over the last few years, Rag & Bone CEO, Marcus Wainwright, has been carrying out other techy initiatives including a dinner-party bringing in an AI guest of honor. Appropriate since global retail spending on AI is expected to grow from $2 billion in 2018 to $7.3 billion by 2022.

Special guest, indeed.

Et qu’en est-il de Paris?

Of the “Big 4” (NY, London, Milan, Paris), three cities have already done their “little turn on the catwalk”. The Nextail team will be in Paris for Paris Retail Week from September 24–26th, so we’ll be there during the shows in the French capital!

If you’ll be at Paris Fashion Week, let’s meet at Paris Retail Week! And if not, you can always get in touch by visiting our website.

Nextail is a smart platform for retail merchandising. Developed by retail experts, it delivers agile data-driven decisions to meet increasing consumer demands.

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