It’s not that New York Fashion Week’s schedule is empty – there are well-known brands like Thom Browne and Heron Preston that are either returning to the city, or making their debut there (plus Alexander Wang, back for the first time in almost four years, off-schedule on Feb. 8). There are also up-and-comers like Elena Velez, Area, Luar and Puppets and Puppets (though not Peter Do). But for an industry that thrives on newness, there aren’t all that many new faces here.
Continuity isn’t a bad thing, especially after years of hand wringing about whether fashion weeks had outlived their purpose, and then the pandemic. But it’s a bit jarring after last September, which was about as packed as New York Fashion Week has been in recent years, with major activations by Fendi, Puma, Marni and more.
Winter fashion weeks can be quieter simply because New York in February isn’t the most pleasant place to be. But weather alone doesn’t explain the lack of risk taking this season. In an uncertain economy, brands are likely watching their budgets more closely. If a recession hits later this year, an emerging designer might regret spending their last dollars renting out a Manhattan landmark to show a collection nobody’s in the mood to buy or wear.
This is less true for big brands like Coach and Michael Kors, where a show is a smaller share of overall marketing expenses, and can be a useful tool in ongoing efforts to elevate their image. Major European brands, many of which showed in the US over the last couple years when America’s economy was roaring, are shifting focus back to China as a potential bright spot.
The economic outlook is looking better today than when brands were making their fashion week plans. Last week, the Federal Reserve signalled interest rates may be near their peak, easing pressure on the wider economy. On Friday, the US unemployment rate unexpectedly fell to its lowest level in 50 years. The International Monetary Fund recently raised its global growth outlook. Earlier this month, LVMH’s Bernard Arnault expressed confidence that China will reopen quickly.
If that trajectory continues, September will be much busier than February.
What Else to Watch for This Week
The Grammy Awards are held in Los Angeles
Texworld begins in Paris
VF Corp. reports quarterly results
Alexander Wang shows in New York
Affirm, Coty, Under Armour, Capri report results
L’Oréal reports results
New York Fashion Week begins: Rodarte, Collina Strada among the first day highlights
Celine shows in Paris
Shiseido, Tapestry, Ralph Lauren report results
L’Oréal holds its annual meeting
Day Two of NYFW: Sandy Liang, Proenza Schouler, Area, Heron Preston, Eckhaus Latta
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