The Great Fashion Show Boom


On Thursday, the global fashion industry took a collective sigh of relief as the close of Paris couture capped off a first half absolutely jammed with events. This year, luxury’s biggest brands came swinging out of lockdowns, with Dior staging a staggering eight runway shows since January 2022, from Paris to Seoul, Los Angeles to Seville — up from seven during the same period in 2019. Chanel and Louis Vuitton have both turned out five this year.

The pace is unlikely to slow anytime soon. Fendi is planning a New York show this autumn, according to sources, although the company did not respond to a request for comment. Other mega labels, from Gucci to Chanel, are likely to announce additional runway events in the weeks to come.

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Why the boom?

Pre-Covid, there was less enthusiasm for such a packed schedule. Major brands including Gucci, Burberry and Celine scaled back the number of runways they staged in recent years, with some showing men’s and women’s together and others merging pre- and main collections. Gender fluidity, sustainability and the breakneck pace of the fashion cycle were among the stated rationales.

Pandemic lockdowns put a temporary stop to runway shows altogether, forcing brands to experiment with digital formats. Others, including Saint Laurent, announced that they would show off the traditional schedule. Many spoke of a reset. But as soon as restrictions were lifted, the likes of Chanel and Dior quickly snapped back to staging big-budget physical runway shows. Gucci, Balenciaga and Saint Laurent soon followed. While the pandemic underscored that there were other creative ways of presenting fashion collections — Loewe’s “show in a box” gained traction — the marketing impact of live shows remains unmatched.

Once aimed at buyers, journalists and other industry insiders, fashion shows have become major brand-building spectacles. They’re an incredibly effective way to engage customers online and off: the masses get a virtual front-row experience through social media, while top spenders are flown out and seated in the front row in the hopes that they’ll drop six figures on one collection. What’s more, the content those VICs — very important customers — and other attendees create reads as far more authentic than content conceived solely for the internet. The physical presence of the “right” people in the audience gives the event more cultural weight.

For instance, this week’s Balenciaga’s star-studded couture show, staged for 150 guests at the brand’s Avenue George V salon, generated more than 72 million social media views and 3.5 billion conversations in the first 48 hours, according to the company. The tactic can work for smaller brands, too. Jacquemus — set to reach $200 million in annual sales in 2022, according to a source familiar with the business — has consistently punched above its weight with picture-perfect runway shows held everywhere from the lavender fields of a Provence to the sandy beaches of Hawaii. Today, 70 percent of the company’s sales are generated digitally.

However, spectacular fashion shows typically cost millions of euros to produce, so the biggest brands have an advantage. It’s perhaps no surprise that Dior — which generated around $7 billion in sales in 2021, according to estimates, and is thought to be the fastest-growing mega label over the past 12 months — has staged the most shows of any other during that same period.

But how much is enough? At some point, there may be dwindling returns on such efforts if consumers become overwhelmed by the content avalanche. Right now, though, they are hungry for entertainment. Social media conversations about fashion have increased by 40 percent since 2019, according to tracking firm Launchmetrics, with Dior (144 percent), Louis Vuitton (86 percent) and Prada (52 percent) outpacing the average. Buckle up for more.

THE NEWS IN BRIEF

FASHION, BUSINESS AND THE ECONOMY

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Tom Ford hires Goldman Sachs to explore potential sale. A deal could value the company at several billion dollars and may include an option that would give any new owner of Tom Ford the right to work with its founder after the sale, according to people with knowledge of the matter, Bloomberg reports.

Gucci cuts climate impact while growing sales. While Gucci’s revenue rose to €9.7 billion ($10 billion) last year, surpassing pre-pandemic sales levels, its environmental footprint has followed a different trend line, falling 15 percent compared to 2019, according to the company’s annual impact report published Tuesday.

Gap will enter Indian market through new deal. Parent company Gap Inc. has partnered with Reliance — the country’s largest retailer, with $26 billion a year in annual sales — to open Gap stores and also distribute the label online as well as in other multi-brand retailers.

Luxury watches are still in short supply, top Rolex dealer says. Demand for most Rolex, Audemars Piguet and Patek Philippe watches has long outstripped supply, but now the problem is spreading to other high-end brands, including Zenith, Omega and IWC, said Brian Duffy, chief executive officer of Watches of Switzerland.

Kohl’s strategic review process ends without sale. The retail chain’s board took it off the market after failing to agree on a potential $8 billion sale to Franchise Group Inc., sending the department-store operator’s stock down. In a statement, Kohl’s said it “wasn’t prudent to continue pursuing a deal because of “market volatility.”

Inditex shutters Bershka, Pull & Bear and Stradivarius Businesses in China. The Spanish retail giant will end the e-commerce operations of the three brands in China this month. Other Inditex labels including Zara, Massimo Dutti and Oysho will remain in the Chinese market.

Klarna discussing valuation cut to $6 billion from $45.6 billion. The Swedish lender’s valuation discussions remain in flux and it’s possible the level could land closer to $10 billion, according to people with knowledge of the matter, reports Bloomberg.

Selfridges partners with Berlin’s Reference Festival on in-store exhibition. Dubbed ‘Superfutures,’ the exhibit will consist of installations throughout the famed London department store designed to provide a window into the future and imagine what the world would look like if it continues on its current trajectory. It will run from Jul. 14 to Oct. 16, and will also be available to view digitally online.

THE BUSINESS OF BEAUTY

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Chinese beauty app Meitu slides as crypto bets steepen losses. Shares of Meitu Inc. extended their decline into a fourth day after the beauty-app developer disclosed that it expects first-half losses to widen due to soured cryptocurrency bets.

PEOPLE

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Fédération de la Haute Couture elects Bruno Pavlovsky as president. Pavlovsky, president at Chanel, will succeed Puig’s Ralph Toledano, who has served as president of the fédération since 2014. Pavlovsky was elected for four years.

Pomellato Group names Boris Barboni chief marketing and product officer. In his new role, Barboni will oversee the international positioning of the Kering-owned jewellery group’s Pomellato and DoDo brands. Barboni joins the company from LVMH-owned Bulgari.

Willa Bennett named Highsnobiety editor-in-chief. Bennett comes from GQ, where she worked as the head of social media, and succeeds Thom Bettridge. Bennett will begin her new post starting July 25 and report to Highsnobiety founder and CEO David Fischer.

A Magazine Curated By appoints first fashion editor. Stylist and image consultant Alexandra Horton, whose past clients include Vogue China, British Vogue, Louis Vuitton and Thom Browne, will develop fashion content and branded fashion partnerships for the magazine from its Paris offices.

MEDIA AND TECHNOLOGY

Daria Veledeeva, the incoming editor-in-chief of Harper's Bazaar Italy

Harper’s Bazaar Italy launches print edition. The Italian edition of Harper’s Bazaar, which is published by Hearst Magazines International, will begin publishing a print edition. Daria Veledeeva, the former editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar Russia, was named editor-in-chief.

Authentic Brands Group settles lawsuit against Bolt and invests in the fintech platform. The licensing company has settled and agreed to dismiss its case against Bolt, its e-commerce checkout service provider, the companies announced. As part of the agreement, ABG has become “shareholders” of the fintech start-up.

Alibaba earnings turnaround hopes revived after shares rise 60 percent. The consensus estimate for the retailer’s earnings per share for the next 12 months has climbed more than 7 percent from a three-year low in late May, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Compiled by Joan Kennedy.



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