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Drapers Debate: Was the BFC right to schedule menswear date clash?

When the British Fashion Council (BFC) announced this week that its January edition of London Collections: Men’s (LCM) would clash with menswear tradeshow Pitti Uomo there was surprise in the Drapers office. But was it the right decision?

Victoria Gallagher, News Reporter, Drapers

Victoria Gallagher, News Reporter, Drapers

Victoria Gallagher, News Reporter, Drapers -

The dates for the autumn 13 editions mean that LCM will overlap with Pitti for two days, with the London event taking place from January 7 to 9, while the Italian show runs from January 8 to 11. This means that come January buyers and journalists will most likely have to choose between London and Florence.

It’s frustrating for those of us who will have to work around it – either by halving the amount of time we would have spent at both or missing one entirely.

But putting yourself in the organiser’s shoes, it’s difficult to see another way around it: LCM couldn’t be held any earlier, as Christmas falls directly before the scheduled event, meaning designers would be unlikely to get samples back in time from factories. I’m sure people would not be happy about the BFC pulling them away from their roast turkey early.

And if it were pushed forwards any later, it would mess with the entire autumn 13 schedule, creating a domino effect on the tightly-scheduled fashion weeks.

In reality, the selection of brands and designers on offer at the two shows overlaps very little. Many of the collections shown at LCM will be aimed at premium and luxury retailers, whereas Pitti will focus more on the contemporary menswear offering. Showrooms can easily play a part in helping buyers that are not able to visit both shows

In what is just its second season, LCM is putting London menswear on the map and at this time the BFC is right to assert itself and not bow down to others in moving its dates once decided.

Although a tough decision to make I applaud the BFC for standing its ground.

Ian Wright

Ian Wright

Ian Wright, Fashion Director, Drapers -

This is a battle in which there are no real winners, and which seems almost certain only to result in giving premium buyers a right headache. As our story last week revealed, buyers are now having to weigh up how much time they dedicate to the hot young Brit and the Italian stallion for the autumn 13 season.

Obviously if the old ‘time is money’ adage didn’t ring true, it would be a joy to wander around the exhibition at LCM at leisure, catch a few shows before casually picking up a carry-on suitcase and jetting off to Florence to take in the sights and sounds of one of menswear’s premier events in one of the world’s most beautiful cities. But life isn’t all cappuccinos in the shadow of the Duomo, so what was previously a relatively (and I stress relatively) comfortable way to ease in to the menswear season before the madness of Milan and Paris has now become a lot tighter, but not completely impossible.

Realistically, attendees are going to split their time between the two venues: it won’t be easy but it isn’t beyond the realms of possibility. However this will only work if the BFC schedule LCM with this in mind.

London Collections will need to pack the first two days with its biggest hitters thereby unveiling those collections to the majority, while also giving the designers opportunity to get them into the exhibition before everyone decamps for Florence. If they don’t, the two outcomes will either be time at Pitti will get even further squeezed, which does not for a happy buyer make, or much more likely the BFC will find the third day is a bit of a non-event as the temptation of Tuscany proves too much for buyers and exhibitors to resist. The whole schedule is tight but not unworkably so – here’s hoping the organisers all play nice to make it as easy as possible for all concerned.

 

Readers' comments (1)

  • Eric Musgrave

    I was surprised no one mentioned this obvious calendar problem when the BFC announced its menswear initiative. It is easy to go first - ie before Pitti Uomo - in the summer, but impossible in the winter. Pitti's dates are always linked to where January 6 - the 12th day after Christmas, the feast of the Epiphany and a national holiday in Italy - falls. The Tuesday immediately after the 6th is when Pitti kicks off.
    Either the BFC didn't think of this when they decided to go first (always a possibility), or they did and decided to take on Pitti anyway. In either case, I wouldn't bet on London winning this fight. No one has managed to stage a decent men's fashion week in London (despite what has been claimed, this is not the first) and I doubt whether the BFC will manage it either, mainly because the domestic market for premium or designer fashion is so small, especially outside London.
    Pitti is not the power it was as Florence has been losing out to Milan in recent seasons. But Pitti has just held its 82nd edition - that's over 40 years of delivering a superb coming together of the premium end of the menswear sector. London's presentation in summer was better than I expected, but it will have to work hard to maintain the international buyers' interest because the reality is that we just don't have enough big-hitting commercial brands to pull in busy buyers from around the world.
    It costs brands far more than buyers to take part in an trade event and brands will go where the best chance of a return on their investment is. London will have some convincing to do. Good luck to them with that.
    No doubt the BFC will make a case for more handouts from the public purse to keep the LCM going (they presumably paid for some buyers to fly in for summer edition?), but history and the pulling power of Pitti and Italy in general is against them.
    Another aspect worth looking out for in this unfortunate tale is that the Italians (with or without the cooperation of the Americans) might decide to retaliate by moving the dates of their womenswear catwalks to squeeze London. While the menswear and womenswear organisers in Italy are separate, and there is that power struggle going on between Florence and Milan in menswear, don't underestimate the Italians putting national pride and prestige first to ensure that the Sistema Moda Italiana is protected.
    It seems a very strange time to pick a fight with the Italian show organisers. Of course, it would be great to see a worthwhile premium event for menswear in London, but then it would be great to see England win the World Cup again. I wonder which will happen first.

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