Things You Need To Know About Fashion Week

November is here and traditionally, that means fashion weeks all over the world are coming to an end soon. Although here in Jakarta, we’re still anticipating Jakarta Fashion Week, which will be held on 12-18 November this year. Expect back-to-back fashion shows as well as endless runway reports!

Yes, fashion week is exciting, but do you understand what’s actually going on? Some of us probably still have blurry understanding about it (“What’s the point of Fall/Winter collection here in Indonesia? We don’t even have those seasons!” Pssst, it does not necessarily have to relate with the actual seasons, darling). So we decided to answer some FAQs about fashion week here.

What is fashion week, anyway?
Fashion week is a fashion event that lasts for one week. It’s filled with fashion shows so designers, brands and fashion houses can display their latest collections. Therefore, the industry knows what’s on trend for the season.

The way I see it, fashion week is a symbiosis event, as designers, brands, fashion houses as well as buyers and medias all need the fashion week.

A typical situation at one of the fashion tents in Bryant Park, during New York Fashion Week

Where is it held?
It can be anywhere, of course. There are literally hundreds of cities around the world that have fashion week. But the most important ones  are held in the four fashion capitals: New York City, London, Milan, and Paris.

Paris, one of world’s fashion capital. To be a fashion capital, the city’s fashion industry must has a relevant and important position for the local economy.

When are fashion weeks held?
In the fashion capitals, fashion weeks are held twice a year. Designers showcase their Fall/Winter collections in January-April, and then they show their Spring/Summer collections in September-November. Do you see the pattern? Fashion weeks must be held several months in advance of the actual season.

Pop quiz: If I was talking about Louis Vuitton’s collection in Paris Fashion Week in October 2011, and Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2012 collection, am I talking about the same thing? Yes, I am.

Why is the timing like that?
Because media and buyers need to preview the collections first, so they can plan their publications or purchasing ahead of time before the actual earth seasons comes.

This also gives time for clothing retailers to incorporate the trends. For instance, in October, H&M sees the Spring/Summer 2012 trends on the runway –> H&M then sends (modified) designs that copy the trends to China –> China manufactures it –> et voila! The collection will be on display on March, when the actual Spring arrives.

So… the collection doesn’t have to reflect the actual earth’s season?
The way I see it, no. Those Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter are just for categorizing needs. Seasons give sense of organization to the fashion industry to arrange the timeline for designing, producing, and finally preparing showcases.

So yeah, we probably won’t see Indonesian designers actually make a line of Ready-to-Wear fur coats for Fall/Winter collection. They’re not ignorant :p

Kleting’s KLE Fall/Winter 2011 collection, ‘Reconstruction’

Are there other seasons than Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter?
Yes, although they are not as mandatory nor as important as the main Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter seasons. They are called the in-between seasons, which are Resort/Cruise (before Spring/Summer) and Pre-Fall (before Autumn/Winter). There is no fixed schedule for these shows in any of the major fashion capitals, but they usually happen three months after the main season shows.

These collections are usually more commercial than the main season collections and help shorten the customer’s wait for new season clothes.

Many designers also put on presentations as opposed to fashion shows to cut down costs or because they feel the clothes can be better understood in this medium.

Lanvin’s presentation for Pre-Fall 2011 collection

Louis Vuitton’s presentation for Resort 2012 collection

Oh, and there are also genre-specific fashion weeks, such as a Miami Fashion Week (swimwear), Rio Summer (swimwear), Prêt-a-Porter (ready-to-wear) Fashion Week, Couture (one-of-a-kind designer original) Fashion Week and Bridal Fashion Week, while Portland (Oregon, USA) Fashion Week shows some eco-friendly designers.

Oscar de la Renta on 2011/2012 Bridal Fashion Week

Wait, what is actually Ready-to-Wear and Haute Couture?
Originally, Haute Couture is exclusive custom-fitted clothing, made to order for specific customers, with very high-quality materials and craftsmanship. Today, Haute Couture is mostly associated with just clothes with expensive materials, sewn with extreme attention to detail and often made using time-consuming, hand-executed techniques. In short, Haute Couture collections are fine crafts, one-of-a-kind, and exclusive.

Ready-to-wear or prêt-à-porter is factory-made clothing, sold in finished condition. Designers produce ready-to-wear in standard sizes to fit most people, and use standard patterns, factory equipment as well as faster construction techniques to keep costs low. Some fashion houses and fashion designers produce mass-produced and industrially manufactured ready-to-wear lines, while others offer garments that, while not unique, are produced in limited numbers. In short, ready-to-wear collections are usually more available and wearable for the general people.

Ellie Saab, Spring 2011 collection. Left, Haute Couture. Right, Ready-to-Wear

Givenchy, Fall 2011 collection. Left, Haute Couture. Right, Ready-to-Wear

Need some more infos? Shoot us questions and we just might give you a second FAQ!