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Lifestyle, collaborations and a possible revival of physical stores at Paris Fashion Week FW24

By Florence Julienne


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Louis Vuitton AW24 finale. Credits: © Louis Vuitton – All rights reserved

Luxury brands, designers and more commercial international labels gathered in Paris to present or exhibit their autumn/winter 2024/2025 collections at trade fairs or showrooms. As such, each brand, in their own way, took advantage of Paris Fashion Week (PFW) – which began on February 26 and ended on March 8 for most of the showrooms – to showcase themselves.

PFW is a term registered by the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), which encompasses more than 120 fashion shows and presentations, plus other adjacent events. As part of fashion week, participants not only have a schedule that allows them to see everything, but also benefit, not least, from an indispensable shuttle service to get from one venue to another (especially useful when it's raining, as it was this season).

The rest, including shows, showrooms, presentations and cocktail parties, are part of PFW, the calendar of which is harder to keep track of because there are so many of them. It should be noted that some brands are not included in the Federation's calendar, which is not without commitment.

AlainPaul FW24 Credits: AlainPaul

Luxury brands are part of the market trend towards lifestyle consumption

As always, we've seen a lot of stars attend the catwalks of luxury brands, and the return on investment has already been widely commented on. Compensation (make-up, hairdressing, accommodation in a Parisian palace, chauffeur, gifts, etc.) is the basis of the contract. On top of this, you have to add a sum of between 10,000 and 150,000 euros for a front-row seat at a fashion show, including the photocall.

Catherine Deneuve at the Louis Vuitton AW24 show. Credits: © Louis Vuitton – All rights reserved

Alongside the bankable personalities who attract huge crowds to each show, this season was marked by a turn towards lifestyle as adopted by luxury. Next to fully booked palaces (a sign of the good health for the industry), new show locations frequented by the fashion sphere were those created on the initiative of luxury brands.

These trendy new places included the Café Maxime Frédéric at Louis Vuitton (on Quai de la Mégisserie, in the first arrondissement, in place of the former Castorama), the Dior restaurant (in the house's former headquarters on Avenue Montaigne, Paris 8ᵉ) and its museum, and the new Saint Laurent Babylone cultural space.

Saint Laurent Babylone Credits: Saint Laurent

Young fashion designers looking for collaborations and more

On the other side of the media and social spectrum are the emerging designers. There was a time when saying "it's commercial" was almost an insult. Today, it's a compliment. It has to be said that times have changed.

In the past, a brand would build up its DNA, fine-tune its production facilities, and pamper its wholesale distribution network before taking the plunge with a fashion show or public exhibition. Today, it's quite the opposite. We show ourselves first, we make an image, and the rest will follow. Or not. But is it worth the risk?

At the end of this PFW, we had to accept the idea that an emerging designer cannot make a living from their own brand. They can't rely on retail to get by. It is, as many people put it, "suicide". They absolutely have to find adjacent resources.

One example is Alexandre Vauthier, an independent designer, who cancelled his AW24 presentation and is now in receivership, mainly because of an unmanageable state-guaranteed loan taken out during the pandemic. Among French structures, it is not the only one to suffer from such a fate, which is proving harder to repay than to take out.

An escape route can come in the form of collaboration. Alphonse Maitrepierre, for example, is currently working on his third collaboration with Desigual, and has done another with Carel for his AW24 baby shoes. This is also the case for Kevin Germanier, who imagined a collection for LVMH for the LVMH 360 Summit. It can also mean auctioning off items worn by celebrities, as we saw with KWK, a brand that parades in London.

Maitrepierre Credits: Dominique Maitre

Does this mean that being a young designer is a calling card? Frédéric Maus, CEO of WSN Développement, told FashionUnited: "We realise that young designers invest a great deal in their personal projects, but they also have various sources of income, in particular designing for certain houses or studios. They are both designers and entrepreneurs. Many established brands need to renew themselves to bring in fresh ideas. Today's business is protean: this generation does several things at the same time.”

Pierre-François Valette at Premiere Classe Credits: Kim Weber

Physical wholesale is taking its revenge on e-commerce

In a context where there are many called on and only few elected, it seems that the famous "return of the buyers" is not just a polite expression. This is certainly the feeling of the directors of Tomorrow ltd, which invested in the Coperni, A-Cold-Wall*, Charles Jeffrey Loverboy, Colville and Martine Rose, and act as agents for Ester Manas, Ottolinger and Rochas, who reported a return to favour for the physical distribution network.

Ester Manas at Tomorrow Credits: F. Julienne

“Last season, the independent boutique segment experienced a remarkable boom, with orders in the US up 25 percent on the previous year," said Valeria Garnica, head of brand experience and communications at Tomorrow. "This growth is not just a fashion phenomenon, it is sustainable, with an 8 percent increase in our active partners year-on-year.”

The reason for this is simple. During the Covid crisis, online retailers experienced a surge in sales. Except that this "bubble" has deflated, and many are now left with stocks they can no longer manage. The result is a large number of late payments and even unpaid invoices that brands have to bear. This situation is benefiting buyers of physical shops. While the phenomenon is visible in North America, it is likely to cross the Atlantic to the benefit of "well-positioned" brands, as Boris Provost, general manager of the Tranoï trade show, suggested.

Judy Sanderson at Tranoï Credits: F. Julienne

“The brands exhibiting in the centre of the nave of the Palais de la Bourse make their living from wholesale," he told FashionUnited. "They are often the result of a partnership between a sales rep and a design studio. They support buyers by adapting to special orders (changes of shape or colour), and this ability to personalise and customise is very popular and a key to success."

The proof: many multi-brand boutiques and department stores list brands that don't typically invest in Google SEO, social networking algorithms or the press, and don't communicate via presentations or fashion shows during sales campaigns.

At a time when the buzz effect of shows and celebrity hype have taken precedence over Parisian fashion, the idea that buyers from all over the world still travel to appreciate a simple collection, and perhaps find a rare seasonal pearl, is something to be delighted about for fashion lovers for whom a cake, a piece of furniture or a beauty cream do not have the same taste as a fine pair of shoes or a well-tailored broad-shouldered coat in chocolate, as evidenced in AW24 trends.

This article originally appeared on FashionUnited.FR. Translation and edit by: Rachel Douglass.

Paris Fashion Week