Michael Kors has broken from the official New York calendar to show his men's early. What does it mean for NYC menswear?
Michael Kors has just shown his menswear in New York.
No big deal, you’d think. Makes sense – we’ve just seen the men’s collections in London, Milan and Paris, and the stores are still placing their orders.
Except menswear in New York is still meant to be shown during the women’s fashion shows, in September and February.
Which means Kors is showing his menswear two months earlier than everyone else.
Kors talks about it in WWD this morning (which you can read if you’re behind its paywall here).
“That’s the women’s calendar,” he says. “We’re opening the line for sale now. Showing the clothes in September doesn’t make sense.”
He says that he found himself asking stores to put some money aside to wait for him to show men’s pieces during his women’s show.
“Wait, wait, the show’s coming — save some money for our clothes,” he tells WWD. “But that logic is bizarre. I would rather stores see the line when they’re in their fashion mojo.”
Kors hasn’t staged a full-on catwalk show, but has held a presentation, so that the clothes can be seen up-close.
He’s released look-book images too, which show a slightly more fashion forward idea than you might expect from Kors, particularly in the width of his trousers.
(!!!UPSIDE DOWN PICTURE ALERT!!!)
(***As with all such photos, I turn it upside down, so you can look through the recognisable image to see the clothes themselves***)
Here’s another look, again upside down.
WWD states that Kors does not necessarily support the idea of a separate menswear week in New York, and isn’t ready to stage a men’s fashion show on its own.
But it’s an interesting and provocative move.
Interesting for Kors, since his menswear is usually overshadowed by his womenswear – not least because it’s shown at the same time as women’s, the male models in the show looking like they’ve been cast as accessories rather than individuals in their own right.
Maybe his men’s business doesn’t have a strong enough identity to have it’s own catwalk show.
Presenting the clothes on their own terms could heighten and clarify the idea of Michael Kors menswear.
Although Kors says the move is through business sense, it is also a provocation.
The actions of one designer can lead to seismic change. In 1998, when New York Fashion Week was at the end of the London/Paris/Milan women’s show cycle, Helmut Lang decided to show his collection before any of them. Others joined him, and New York Fashion Week shifted from last, to first.
Kors is no radical like Lang. If anything, the stratospheric growth of his company (his profits more than doubled in the last quarter) has shown him to be a businessman as much as a designer.
Yesterday’s positive figures from Burberry (like-for-like sales up 13%) were down to growth in its menswear business.
There’s money to be made in menswear.
And by moving his menswear from the hinterland of womenswear to sit in line with the international men’s markets, it’s as if Kors is proclaiming he wants in on the action.
It will be interesting to see if others follow his lead.
Whenever you speak with anyone about American fashion, the talk soon veers to business. While we in London focus on encouraging new talent, for them, it’s all about the market.
It seems that if New York is to get its own men’s fashion week, it’ll happen because of commerce, not creativity.