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CFDA Lays Out Multiple Solutions to Rebooting NYFW

Photo: Jenny Anderson/Getty Images

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The results of the Council of Fashion Designers of America's study on how to reboot New York Fashion Week are in.

This study with Boston Consulting Group was commissioned just as designers like Rebecca Minkoff, Michael Kors, and Monique Lhuillier started taking matters into their own hands by staging instantly shoppable runways. But if designers were looking for absolute clarity from the CFDA on the exact way forward to change the fashion calendar, this study might not be it.

The report, which draws on insights from 50 formal interviews with designers, fashion executives, retailers, editors, and other insiders, lays out all the problems with the current system.

That includes rampant copying by fast fashion brands, creative burnout, a delivery schedule that leads to markdowns, and the perception that consumers are already bored with collections by the time they land in stores.

Image: CFDA/Boston Consulting Group

"In-season relevancy" is the rallying cry, and the CFDA thinks that could play out through any number of scenarios. One suggested scenario involves stripped-down, intimate appointments for retail and press four to six months before collections are delivered. Editors would have to agree to embargo images from the previews, although perhaps designers could leak some teaser images.

Brands could then stage in-season events when collections launch. Those "in-season events" wouldn’t have to be a runway show, or involve just shoppers, and they wouldn’t even have to happen during NYFW.

There could also be a hybrid model, which sticks with the current timing but includes capsule collections that would be immediately shoppable (it kind of sounds like Michael Kors’s recent runway strategy).

Of course, not every brand can afford to put together capsule collections, host in-season events, and trade previews all at once. The CFDA acknowledges this and notes that "only brands that have the budget and strategic interest for it will do the in-season event," but it could become problematic if the majority of bigger brands turn towards in-season shows, leaving smaller brands with even less support in the industry.

The CFDA’s study says NYFW will not become only a marketing and commercial event, it will instead be "consumer-relevant." The CFDA will continue to own the Fashion Calendar to accommodate all sorts of events that designers might stage.

After laying out several options (and bringing up the possibility of shifting delivery dates), CFDA is leaving it entirely up to designers to figure out what to do next. The report reads: "Ultimately, it is up to the brands to decide what works best for them, and the CFDA will support designers as they experiment and define what is right for their collections."