Designers have historically worked in seasons, but that may not be the future of fashion. Traditionally, winter has been the primary source of income for retailers and designers. In summer, consumers wear less and often items of lower value. This has been changing over the past few years, as consumers demand more spring/summer clothing – and show a willingness to spend more on it.
There are several reasons for this. The first is the most literal seasonal change: global warming. Retailers are reacting to the volatility of weather by bringing in counter-seasonal ranges, so their consumers can be prepared for cold snaps in autumn and ultra-warm winter and spring days. Data shows that weather-related purchases are occurring earlier each season, with large winter coats being sought after as early as April.
Another reason for the non-season is globalisation; it’s no longer the uber-rich who are capable of world travel. An increasing number of people manage to avoid living by seasons with winter escapes, global travel, and the digital nomad lifestyle. This has resulted in year-round price stability for many retailers, who can now rely on a consistent demand for resort wear and heavier winter items selling well alongside traditional warm-weather merchandise.
In addition to this, the huge availability of fashion items online means that both hemispheres are searching and buying, meaning international designers and retailers can be sure their consumers exist in both summer and winter at any given time. Denise L’Estrange-Corbet of WORLD stated the brand makes sure to provide for winter. “We have North and South Island stores, so whilst Auckland may be mild, Queenstown could be snowing,” she said. “Not catering for that season would be dire!”
Sergio Rossi CEO Riccardo Sciutto has stated very simply that he does not believe in seasons, and Natalie Kingham of London-based matchesfashion.com has said her clients demand all seasons, all year. "Our global customer has become increasingly impatient with the traditional fashion cycle, more interested in constant newness with a buy-now-wear-now ethos," said Kingham.
Collections are now available online six months ahead of the season they were designed for, even those of high-end global designers. This means there’s no style build-up to a season, rather an immediate show, release, and trend – which can shorten the life span of a style.
However, one season will always be in season: winter. It has always been the industry’s largest earner, and although summer has grown hugely that won’t change. L’Estrange-Corbet puts it simply: “When it’s cold, people want warm clothes, so ignoring the seasonal designing would be a seriously dumb move.”
Local label Huffer also doesn't see seasonality going away any time soon, with founder Steve Dunstan stating that although sales unit volume peaks in the lead up to Christmas, winter has a longer selling period of high-priced products. Dunstan said the brand designs seasonally but balances out year-round demand by offering capsule collections. "It is wise to have a consistent offering of trans-seasonal products in capsules forging colour trends, and fabric offerings that create excitement along with ‘classic’ staple product for everyday needs," he said.
Capsule collections and individual garment releases are on the rise, particularly in the lucrative pre-fall category. “At WORLD we do design predominantly for the season we are heading into, even though we design nearly a year in advance,” said L’Estrange-Corbet. “The collection is dropped into all stores on the same day, nationwide. We do also do a second drop mid-season, with a new collection, although it is not as extensive as the first drop.” WORLD does this to keep stores full, interesting, and spot on with the season.
While seasons aren’t likely to disappear, it does seem the industry is moving away from the two defined release stages of Autumn-Winter and Spring-Summer.