Thursday, June 9, 2016 Fashion timescales are changing: to be discussed at the Expo Riva Schuh opening talk

Estimated reading time: 2 minutes

The 86th edition of Expo Riva Schuh opens with a reflection on fashion timescales and the repercussions that this on-going debate might have on the footwear sector. “The on-going changes in fashion timescales” will be the core theme of the opening talk on Saturday 11th June.


The debate will pick up on the declarations of two famous creative directors, Christopher Bailey and Tom Ford, who claim to be in favour of re-thinking the timing of the presentation of new collections, maintaining that consumers are bored with the product before it even hits the high street, because information regarding the new collections is announced a good six months prior and the product has already been seen. From this discussion, a fundamental problem emerges, that of the existence of a timing differential between supply and demand, and the subsequent need to understand to what extent the current system can reduce the lapse from the moment in which a product is offered to when it actually reaches the consumer. These are two crucial issues that could also have very real implications for the footwear market, being so intrinsically linked to the world of fashion and its timescales.


In the world of fashion, talk comes back to the matter of “speed,” yet not as a strategic corporate choice, but rather as a structural variable of the market. The key question concerns the ratio between speed and quality: is it true that by presenting a collection within a tighter timescale this would result in a compromise in terms of creative and manufacturing quality? And this question becomes even more complicated when applied to a complex production process such as that of footwear companies. The answer is probably that the companies themselves will need to address the problem of how to reorganise their creative process, involving all the links in the chain, including producers of prototypes and samples.


These days it is quite simply expected that we will “do everything in less time,” leaving other factors unaffected, but this model has shown how traditional companies are not yet able to combine creativity and speed. Reducing timescales, on the other hand, does not necessarily mean a drop in creative/production quality, but providing a system that optimises the coordination and timing of the various links in the chain.


The solution might be to go for a mixed strategy with collections that are less ample, but more frequent, thus deriving a series of seasonal mini-collections from a central research core. This format may bring about a number of strategic advantages, such as the quest for greater productive agility and speed of response within the production chain, reducing the risk of “blind manufacturing” and “down time” in the production cycle, creating a more linear working process.


The re-think over fashion timescales and the number and method of collection launches has probably only just begun, but the debate is well under way. For the future, according to various research, the tendency will be to have a smaller quantity but larger number of products.