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Thinking about the seasons

05.30.14

Mel Ottenberg exclusively styles Rihanna in addition to his many editorial projects and consulting jobs. He’s a busy man, an in-the-know busy man. Yesterday, the New York Times profiled Ottenberg, his relationship with pop culture, and the difficulties straddling the mainstream and underground fashion worlds while balancing his editorial work and turning Rihanna into a fashion star. The article was interesting as he’s not often in the press spotlight.

However, this is not what struck me while reading it, in the article he says Rihanna has nothing to wear. What? How is this even possible? She has access to any and every designer imaginable on the planet.

“It’s the end of May,” Ottenberg said, “and we’ve already used up all of fall/winter. It’s over.”

He is referring to fall/winter 2014, a season that has not even occurred yet. For us, clothes from the fall collections won’t hit stores for at least two-three more months and pre-fall is barely on the floor right now (in between racks of spring/summer sales).

Is this one of the problems with the current fashion calendar? Designers show collections months in advance (fall shows were in Feb/March) and celebrities have access to new pieces immediately (sometimes the same day the collection is shown). Only major celebrities or brand ambassadors have access that quickly. But aside from an ego boost – what’s so great about it?

As consumers we have access to the collections real time as well. Live-streaming shows are part of fashion week now, and lookbooks are available soon after. Fast fashion retailers have enough time to knock off the collections before they hit the floor! We are inundated with celebrity images on blogs and Instagram, and are reading trend reports from digital outlets months in advance of the season – so by the time the collection is available we’re not shopping them because they no longer feel new. We are a culture who thrives on new, new, and new; we are constantly consuming news and updates from around the world in the blink of a refresh. But for the fashion industry is this such a good thing?

There is no doubt Rihanna will find something to wear. But, who is this model really hurting? For up-and-coming designers, a mention after a new season’s debut is worth everything. But if they’re not doing pre-collections yet – who’s talking about them when their collection finally debuts at Barneys or a smaller boutique and press mentions REALLY mean everything because they need the sales?

This is a huge conversation and part of a larger issue as many different players within the industry struggle with balancing old methods with the new technology and consumer demand. Some designers are addressing solutions themselves by releasing collections on their own via e-commerce, producing mini collections every other month, and developing relationships with stores in which “consignment” is not as risky.

I doubt Mel Ottenberg expected his comment to inspire a post like this, but I couldn’t help myself. What do you think? Are the seasons and fashion calendar confusing to you?

Ashley Wu

Delpozo Fall/Winter 2014 collection images via Style.com

Tags: New York Times / NYFW / Rihanna / runway / Style / Stylist

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