Paris men's fashion week moves away from co-ed shows

Milan men's fashion week may be well under way, but it is Paris, the blockbuster of global men's weeks, which this season will capture the grand share of attention.

To start, the buzz of co-ed shows is no longer buzzing. Yes, Gucci, Burberry, Coach and Bottega Veneta may still be doing it, but Paris will have Hedi Slimane's first men's only show for Celine, J.W. Anderson's men's presentation, who has defected London for Paris, and Raf Simons' first solo show after his unceremonious Calvin Klein exit.

Also new on the Paris calendar is Clare Waight Keller's first Givenchy men's only show and Kris van Assche's debut collection for Berluti. Then, of course, there is the ascent of Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton to witness. No other designer has set the fashion world alight in quite the same way, rewriting the fashion dictionary, since his appointment as artistic director of LVMH's pinnacle brand.

Why the shift from co-ed shows?

The men's luxury market has clearly cemented itself as a bonafide business, securing ample investment in product development, retail touchpoints, marketing and catwalk collections.

Understandably, for many brands the cost of a fashion show has little return on investment, yet for luxury brands the publicity bolsters sales and enough media coverage to warrant the hefty price tag.

Over the last few years the buzzwords surrounding co-ed shows were gender fluidity and unisex fashion. Back in 2016, Burberry, one of the first to introduce the format, said it aimed to create a “seasonless, immediate, and personal” presentation with its co-ed shows. "The changes we are making will allow us to build a closer connection between the experience that we create with our runway shows and the moment when people can physically explore the collections for themselves,” former Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey said at the time.

But brands are connecting with consumers in a myriad of ways, via all kinds of channels. A co-ed show is not likely to create a more personal connection when compared to 24/7 customer service on the consumer's choice of channel, be it social media, WhatsApp or good old-fashioned email.

While cost and practicality will remain considerations for many companies, fashion's obsession with streetwear drops and immediacy has also given rise to tailoring, luxury and a need to slow down.

A focus on craft and return to the essence of what a brand stands for are perfect ingredients to show on the catwalk. A tip for cost saving, skip the over-the-top Chanel production standards.

Photo credit: Celine SS19, source Celine website

 

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