Fashion is represented in seasons. In Milan Fashion Week, Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter (Fall season in the US) seasons are showcased. Thousands of artists, designers, and other fashion enthusiasts fly into the fashion capital to witness the latest fashion in the world.
Fashion seasons are confusing and there is a reason for it. In this article, we will look into the various fashion seasons followed by brands and how it is changing rapidly.
What are fashion seasons?
Fashion seasons are created by retail brands to showcase the latest trends in a fashion suitable for the changing weather. The main four seasons being Spring/Summer and Autumn/Winter, Resort, and Pre-fall. The Resort and Pre-fall seasons are not the major seasons here. They tend to come in between the other two seasons.
What is the fashion life cycle of a collection?
To understand the fashion cycle easily, we are going to make a summer/spring collection for the year 2022. I have divided the cycle into various phases. They are:
1. Creative phase:
During the month of March and May 2021, designers research and develop fabrics for the upcoming season. Fabric manufacturing has a lead time anywhere between 40–65 days depending on the complexity of the pattern and type of the fabric.
2. Sampling phase:
Once the fabric is receive by the designers, they start to work on various styles for the upcoming season. They develop various samples and prototypes to be presented in the upcoming fashion week.
3. Fashion week:
The Spring/Summer 2022 fashion week will be held in June 2021. The fashion enthusiasts, designers, models, buyers, journalists, photographers, and everyone who wants a piece of the latest fashion flocks to get a seat in the fashion show. Models catwalks wearing the items made by their designers. The photographers take photos, designers criticize, buyers decide on which item to purchase during this time.
4. Ordering phase:
Not all the designs that are showcased on a ramp walk get into production. Once the fashion week is over, the buyers follow the designers and brands to place their orders for the most potential items that they would display in their stores. This period after the show is considered an important and busy day of the fashion cycle.
5. Production phase:
Once the orders are received by the brands, they compile and place manufacturing orders with their factories around the globe. The lead time for manufacturing can also be from one to two months. By the end of December, the production is supposed to be over.
6. Arrival phase:
Between the month of January and March, the spring collection 2022 will be shipped to various stores around the world for individual buyers.
This is an example of a life cycle in fashion. Imagine that in a span of twelve months, brands try to develop and manufacture items for 4 seasons. All the six phases mentioned above will be different for various seasons and designers work on a tight schedule to meet their deadlines.
Now you know why retail seasons are always ahead of the real seasons. This normally creates confusion for many. Consider the arrival of summer clothes in the wintertime. The idea is to be ahead of the real season. This gives the brands enough time to sell, while old season clothes are sold at discount prices.
“I find it absurd that, in the middle of winter, one can only find linen dresses in shops and alpaca coats in the summer, for the simple reason that the desire to purchase must be satisfied immediately. Who buys an item to put in the closet waiting for the right season?” — In a complaint, Armani wrote addressing the retail season issue.
How do various seasons create wastage?
Brands work round the clock to produce items throughout the year. This results in an overproduction of clothes. Thus forcing retailers to dispose of the items at large discounts.
This issue is largely criticized by the designers. While few consumers bought the items at higher prices, within a few months, the value of the cloth is slashed more than half. In actuality, the clothes hold the same value.
The rise of the “See now, Buy now” model
As designers and brands started to understand the problem with following seasons, there was a need for creative problem-solving in the market. Alongside, climate change and sustainability awareness increased among consumers.
In 2016, Burberry unveiled the ‘see now, buy now’ approach and it was soon adopted by other major brands like Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Tom Ford. In this model, buyers could purchase right after the fashion show.
The advantage of this model is that it gave way to seasonless fashion trends. Brands are starting to focus more on the value of the brand and the longevity of the product.
How has the pandemic played a role in the fashion cycle?
In the last two years, the buying pattern of consumers has changed. With everyone indoors and working from home, people are changing what they are buying. Consumers are now focused on buying little and buying less.
In a recent interview, the famous designer and founder Virgil Abloh discussed the blurring of seasons in the fashion industry.
People are buying pajamas and workout wear more. There are fewer seasonal purchases now. Brands have to adapt. Otherwise, they end up with trash.
“Brands you have to do what is right for you. If you don’t have a substantial direct-to-consumer base. It's time to initiate a conversation with your sales reps and buyers. Ask what season they want to be delivered when.” — The Council of Fashion Designers of America.
Still, brands follow the traditional seasonal method. It is easy and everyone follows it. Unless there is a massive shift in consumer buying behavior and mass adoption, old methods will continue to be in place.