Complex Made Simple

Adding fashion weeks to a packed calendar

“It’s always fashion week somewhere,” the saying goes, and there are more on the rise.

Pre-fall is happening, though it has no distinctive beginning and end as do full-fledged fashion weeks or the release of other seasonal collections. The when and the where begin in December normally, but can trickle down to January, as there is no ruling authority to dictate when the collections are presented to the media.

Several major brands that had once staged dog-and-pony shows for pre-fall have opted not to this season; others, like Chanel (which chose Salzburg, Austria, as the location for the show it calls Métiers d’Art on December 2) and Dior (which dubbed pre-fall Esprit and debuted it in Tokyo Thursday) emphatically did.

Yet while many in the industry groan at the prospect of adding yet more fashion shows to the already packed calendar — the men’s shows in Europe begin January, followed by couture, then men’s and women’s shows in New York in early February, then back to Europe for women’s ready-to-wear in late February and March — there’s at least one good reason to take note of pre-fall.

These collections are important ones for designers and companies, in part because they have an unusually long life on the sales floor. Most begin arriving in stores in May and June, and some are inching up as early as April.

This is “a significant change,” said Justin O’Shea, the buying director of myTheresa, an e-commerce site based in Munich (with a single Munich brick-and-mortar store) that this year was acquired by Neiman Marcus. “It is definitely getting earlier every year.” The collections remain in stores until the fall collections follow in August, September or October.

And while fall and spring collections are often as much about making a powerful aesthetic statement on the runway as about making clothes to sell, pre-collections tend to be more grounded in commercial reality. Which makes sense, given that some designers seen this week speculate that up to 70 per cent of their business is done in pre-collections, both pre-fall and its analogue, pre-spring (often called “resort,” but again open to linguistic variations, such as “cruise”).

So we’ll keep going, seeing and reporting back.

© The New York Times 2014