What, when, wear? An insider’s guide to pre-collections

The style calendar has gone crazy, as it seeks to exploit the bit between ‘seasons’. Fashion editor Alexander Fury offers help

Last Tuesday, Karl Lagerfeld took over the Texas State Fair and shipped 900 guests across the world to present his latest collection for the house of Chanel. That collection? Not couture or ready-to-wear, but Chanel’s pre-fall 2014 range.

Pre-fall 2014 – the season that comes before “fall” (that’s autumn to you and me). Don’t they mean summer? And aren’t we barely into 2013’s winter, let alone thinking of what we may want to wear this time next year? If it all sounds like nonsense, honestly, it is.

That is not a comment on Lagerfeld’s designs, but rather on fashion’s current, confused calendar, a calendar that kicked-off with the womenswear pre-fall presentations back in November, and runs through until February. In the same time span, we’ll see the 2014 winter menswear collections, and a handful of spring haute couture shows. Then the womenswear autumn/ winter shows begin, in February.

This means, for a talent such as Raf Simons – who designs womenswear for Christian Dior, and an eponymous menswear range – the next two months demand no fewer than four separate collections, catering for three different seasons. The entire fashion calendar, it seems, is out of whack.

Look at the diagram above. That’s a rough plotting of the fashion year 2013, but it’s representative of the industry calendar, that now leaps from autumn/winter, to spring/summer, back to autumn/winter – without even taking into account “pre-fall” or “resort” wear (summery clothes sold as the cold sets in – the name is a nod to those who can afford warm winter holidays). Those are the odd names that seem to have stuck for a couple of in-between seasons: the pre-collections.

On planet fashion, the seasons run from spring/summer to pre-fall, to autumn/winter and resortwear and back to spring again. When you try to unravel the collections schedule, your head (and eyes) will spin. Because it makes no sense. Way back when, calendars were a way of bringing order into the world, dividing time, pulling us back from chaos – a mark of civilisation.

What does that tell us about fashion today? It is waiting for is a leader, someone with the chutzpah to shake the system up. Phoebe Philo of Céline refused to show images of her latest pre-collection until the garments actually hit the stores. However, that meant we saw her resort 2014 collection after her spring 2014 collection – which was even more befuddling.

The pre-collection makes sense where it counts: cold, hard economics. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of the New York label Proenza Schouler told me their pre-collections make up roughly 70 per cent of their sales. “More commercial, less expensive,” is McCollough’s simple summary of them. They have “a really long shelf-life”.

But despite the proliferation of seasonal collections, ultimately they are meaningless when coupled with the global fashion market, and the demands of the Southern hemisphere. Our winter is their summer. How do designers deal with that?

Ah, the designers. They often get forgotten, the human hands behind these luxury behemoths. Equally overlooked is the fact that fashion isn’t just frocks, but – at its best – it’s a creative expression, a vehicle for change. That’s what actually motivates you to get out your credit card and hand over the money. Maybe that will be the thing that finally slows down the ever-increasing speed of the fashion carousel: that, and the realisation that it’s quality and not quantity that counts.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Service Advisor

    £16000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to expansion and growth of ...

    Recruitment Genius: SEO Account Manager

    £26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An SEO Account Manager is requi...

    Recruitment Genius: Telesales / Telemarketing Executive - OTE £30k / £35k plus

    £18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company specialises provid...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £25,000

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Day In a Page

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders