Runway shows by no doubt drive fashion’s glamorous image. Yet, with media platforms democratizing the front row experience and economic uncertainty plaguging the future of high-end retail, there’s definitely a shift in the function of runway shows.While they have always served a business purpose to some extent, utilizing them for branding has become a developing trend amongst designers.
Take Alessandro Michele’s Gucci for example. Each collection has been celebrated by critics as fascinating mixes of individual eclecticism. Upon further inspection, there’s apparent similarities (think bombers, granny florals, trompe l’oeil motifs) from season to season that aren’t particularly groundbreaking when compared against one another. Yet, it solidifies Gucci’s image to a set of associations that make each look seasonless. And this runway model follows Hedi Slimane’s strategy at Saint Laurent, which continues to experience stable growth despite weak luxury demand. As both brands are part of parent group Kering, there’s no surprise in utilizing a consumer-based runway model for mega-brand Gucci.
When compared to Frida Giannini’s Gucci, it’s apparent that Frida’s thematic approach fell short in her last few years. While each collection had a tale to tell, they didn’t resonate with consumers who preferred brand consistency. Does this signal the end of fashion show creativity for larger brands? Not quite. Although consumers may prefer products that follow a set of styles and aesthetics they’ve already seen, there’s still opportunities to vary the collections by location, set, mode of display, performances and even beauty. As long as brands make significant use of peripheral factors with imagination, runway shows can continue to be desirable spectacles.
(All Images via Vogue Runway)