Another day, another major fashion industry change. This morning, at the New York Times International Luxury Conference in Versailles, Gucci’s president and CEO Marco Bizzarri announced that the house will merge its men’s and women’s shows from 2017, joining Burberry who made a similar announcement in February. The label will stage one show each season, though it’s not clear at what point during the fashion calendar this will be.
“(Gucci’s creative director) Alessandro Michele has in fact always presented his men’s and women’s collections together, so this is a very natural progression,” says Bizzarri. “Moving to one show each season will significantly help to simplify many aspects of our business. Maintaining two separate, disconnected calendars has been a result of tradition rather than practicality.”
For Michele – and many of his contemporaries – the idea of showing men’s and women’s collections separately is fast becoming an outdated concept. “I’ve always shown ‘men’ in the collection because I don’t see myself as just a womenswear or unisex designer – it's just for whoever wants it can wear it,” emerging designer Claire Barrowtold us last month. “Like, what’s point of me doing a menswear season as well?”
Gucci’s decision, however, that it’s fashion’s giants as well as its groundlings who are thinking in this way. “It seems only natural to me to present my men’s and women’s collections together,” says Michele. “It’s the way I see the world today. It will not necessarily be an easy path and will certainly present some challenges, but I believe it will give me the chance to move towards a different kind of approach to my storytelling.”
While Gucci is joining Burberry is merging men’s and women’s collections, it isn’t adopting a ‘see now/buy now’ model like the British house – and others including Tom Ford and Paul Smith. In a statement, the Italian house said that “it will maintain its ‘see now, buy later' schedule, respecting the necessities of the creative and production process in luxury fashion.”
With disruptions to the fashion system and countless arrivals and departures of designers at the industry’s major labels, it’s clear that we’ll look back on this year as one of seismic change.