Fashion Week is a fashion industry event, lasting approximately one week, where fashion designers, brands and luxury houses display their latest collections in runway fashion shows to buyers and members of the media. These events influence trends for the current and upcoming seasons.
Fashion Week takes place over a month called 'Fashion Month' in four major cities called the 'Big Four:' New York, Milan, London and Paris; respectively. These 4 cities receive the majority of press coverage and have ultimately shaped the way we view fashion. Other cities such as Tbilisi, Tokyo and Copenhagen have also become fashion favourites in recent years.
Paris began holding couture shows in 1945, Milan Fashion Week was founded by the Italian Chamber of Commerce in 1958, Paris Fashion Week was further organised in 1973 under the French Fashion Federation, and London Fashion Week was founded by the British Fashion Council in 1984. Whilst these entities remain the main organisations governing their cities respective fashion weeks, it is worth noting that there are independent events and producers in all cities as well. These independent events include PR and Designer Showrooms. If you're from the MENA region, two examples of independent showrooms include Faux Consultancy and Maison Pyramide.
Fashion Week - 3 Kinds
Haute Couture: high-end, handmade tailored dressmaking.
Prêt-à-porter: ready-to-wear, dedicated to womenswear.
Paris remains the only city which hosts Haute Couture Fashion Week. The term 'Haute Couture' is trademarked in France and it is a legally controlled term in the country and can only be delivered by the Ministry of Industry in France following strict rules and guidelines set by La Chambre Syndicale de La Haute Couture de Paris. Therefore, using the term 'Haute Couture' lightly to refer to collections may get you in some legal trouble.
Ready to wear, often abbreviated RTW, is the term for factory-made clothing, sold in standardised sizes, as distinct from made-to-measure or bespoke clothing tailored to a person's frame. RTW collections can usually be found in stores, boutiques and department stores, four to six months after the show.
Mens Fashion Week was introduced around 2012. It is a fashion week solely dedicated to menswear. However, some designers usually combine RTW (Womenswear) and Menswear, depending on the season for various different reasons.
Fashion Week Schedule
Traditionally, fashion weeks are held several months in advance of the season to allow the press and buyers a chance to preview fashion designs for the following season. To better understand how Fashion Weeks operate - Fashion Week is separated by two different categories; these categories depend on the season. S/S stands for Spring/ Summer and A/W or F/W which stand for Autumn/ Winter and Fall/ Winter respectively.
Haute Couture week takes place twice a year: once in January for the following S/S season and a second time in June or July for the following A/W season.
Ready-to-Wear takes place in March for the following A/W season and in September for the following S/S season.
Menswear: A/W collections are presented in January and S/S collections are presented in June.
These time-windows are essential. They were initially created to allow time for retailers to purchase and incorporate the designers into their retail marketing. The window in question follows a slower 'retail cycle,' which is encouraged by the French Federation. It is the opposite of fast fashion and the 'see now, buy now' cycle which is often unethical and unsustainable.