With this season’s men’s fashion month well on the way, we haven’t been able to ignore a growing trend. Or rather, the absence of one. Smaller shows, shorter programming days, in fact fewer days altogether. Men’s fashion week is shrinking all around – and is, in fact, increasingly occupied by women’s fashion. Doesn’t that seem to counter the growing menswear trend, you may ask? Indeed. Reports in recent years show that menswear, once the dark horse of fashion, is the fastest growing sector in the market, rapidly approaching womenswear as an equally valuable asset. In fact, rumors even claimed that at Balenciaga, led by menswear genius Demna Gvsalia, the revenue on men’s fashion has already overtaken that of women’s. So why are men’s fashion weeks in New York, London, Paris, and Milan – some of them less than 10 years old – shrinking or downright closing? The answer is found partially in the importance of menswear itself.
Lesser packed men’s weeks are by no means a symptom of a shrinking market, in fact quite the opposite. Rather, menswear has become so ubiquitous and so mainstream a discipline that’s it increasingly considered a main concern for fashion brands. This means more attention from the CEO, the top creative director, and the marketing team: and thus, a place in the prime spotlight alongside womenswear. In the last couple of years, brands like Gucci, Calvin Klein, Zegna, Saint Laurent, Brioni and Cavalli have presented both men’s and women’s offerings in one fashion week presentation, which not only saves show production cost, but unifies the aesthetic thematic and marketing of the entire brand range. In addition, more women are buying menswear than ever, meaning that womenswear buyers will do more than pay attention to a good pair of boyfriend jeans – i.e., having menswear ready on the order sheet during women’s fashion week is not a bad idea. Generally, it is changing buying patterns that has also led to drastic changes in how fashion weeks are organized and conducted, as designers fight for every single € that shop representatives bring to the industry weeks. This means surprising pop-up appearances of womenswear brands or collections during men’s week (usually earlier in the year), while men’s fashion brands might make a move to couture week or women’s week (depending on their markets). Finally, due to the still nascent status of most men’s fashion weeks (London’s edition was only started in 2014), much like regional fashion weeks, they lose their talent once they actually start making money, as they will inevitably seek to Paris, where you get maximum impact and return on investments during both fashion weeks. Confused? So are we! But while we’ll never ask you to have a full grasp of the complexities of fashion marketing, just know that in 2019, the future of men’s fashion weeks is dire – only this week, BoF published an op-ed calling for the closure of several men’s fashion weeks in the coming years. Such a death-stab perhaps marks the ultimate ending of the menswear revolution that began in the early 2000s – but can we help to feel a little melancholic as the war comes to an end? What are your thoughts?
Images by Giacomo Cabrini