In recent years, the fashion industry’s calendar has twisted into something beyond recognition. The days of bi-annual shows where a brand would present a collection for Spring/Summer and one for Fall/Winter are now long gone. In today’s era of rampant consumption and crippled attention spans, no brand can rely on two seasonal collections a year to stay relevant.
While most keen observers of fashion readily understand the concept of the bi-annual fashion week circus and its seasons, many have no idea what “Resort”, “Cruise”, “Pre-Fall” or “Pre-Spring” means and why these collections even matter. In case you missed it, Resort (or Cruise) season has been in full swing the past month, with highlights taking shape in Gucci's haunted collection, Chanel's nautical presentation upon a custom cruise liner, and Dior's tribute to escaramuzas, Mexico's female rodeo.
We’ve broken down some helpful information that might make navigating the time in between fashion weeks a little less overwhelming.
What Exactly Is Resort? How Is It different From Cruise or Pre-Spring?
Resort, Cruise, Pre-Spring, “Holiday,” whatever you wanna call it: they're monikers for the same thing. It’s just interchangeable fashion jargon to describe the same pre-collection that comes after Fall/Winter clothes have gone on sale but before Spring/Summer clothes have been delivered to stores.
And What About Pre-Fall?
Pre-Fall, like the resort collections that come before it, is becoming a firm fixture on the fashion calendar. Though some brands do put on shows, they’re not scaled-up extravaganzas like the big fashion houses like Gucci or Chanel put on for Resort. In fact, the presentations are smaller in scale and way more mainstream than any other seasonal collections, because Pre-Fall is entirely motivated by a commercial opportunity. It’s not limited to storied fashion houses, OFF-WHITE and 1017 ALYX 9SM have joined the Pre-Fall game too.
Basically, Pre-Fall is a chance to make some extra scratch in a globalized world where spring barely exists, and the Fall/Winter collections are still being produced. The demand is there because the season changeover can be loss-making for fashion brands, with spring items having gone on permanent sale while fall items haven’t yet been delivered to stores.
Why Are Resort/Pre-Collections Even a Thing?
Originally, Resort (or Cruise) was a collection that did what it said on the tin. Once upon a time, designers produced special collections packed full of wares that you would take on vacation to live your best, luxe life. Think easy, breezy fabrics, statement bathing suits, huge sun hats — it was a collection dedicated to summer staples.
Wait, but Why are There Winter Coats in Resort?
It doesn’t make commercial sense to restrict Resort to summer staples, as not everyone goes on holiday. So, brands are just making sure there’s a rounded offering for everyone. It’s a reflection of our collective desire for seasonless style too, and that’s exactly what Resort delivers.
Resort is another opportunity to satisfy the globalized generation of consumers who travel all the time, as well as the demands of climate change, where in many parts of the winter, there is little to no winter these days.
In addition, for the bigger brands, they have clients all over the world, and their biggest spends are in the ever-important Asian, Arab, and Russian markets, and those are consumers who need clothes for different temperatures at different times from the western markets.
So, When Does Resort Ship?
Traditionally, “resort” season starts in mid-November to capitalize on the Thanksgiving holiday break in the US and stays in store through to Christmas.
Does Every Brand Offer Resort and Pre-Collections Shows?
It’s easy to get distracted by the big brands like Chanel, Dior, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Prada, and Fendi, who all stage colossal Resort shows, studded with celebrity stars in far-flung places. Even though it's the mega-shows that galvanize media attention, plenty of brands offer Resort but just quietly produce lookbooks and release images to media outlets.
Are Resort Collections Smaller then Regular Collections?
For most brands, yes. However, for the bigger fashion houses like Gucci and Chanel who will spend a ridiculous amount of money on a massive show, they won’t waste an opportunity to churn out a seemingly infinite carousel of 90+ looks. After all, these big European brands are flying out the international press, clients, buyers, and celebrities to places as far as Havana, Tokyo, Rio de Janerio and even the Great Wall of China.
Why Is Resort, Pre-Spring & Pre-Fall Necessary?
For the bigger brands, it’s becoming a commercial necessity. Pre-collections, including Resort and Pre-Fall, are important to buyers as they’re usually compromised of the most “wearable” clothes, even from the most statement-y of brands and fashion houses. Believe it or not, most rich folks don’t wear avant-garde sculptures every day.
The wares peddled in pre-collections is probably what you’re most likely to see from a brand on the sales floor of more mainstream luxury fashion outlets, rather than the “show pieces” from Spring/Summer of Fall/Winter shows.
While Pre-Fall and Pre-Spring is an extra opportunity for more brands to make bank, Resort has become an incredibly important season for vendors, beyond the promise of clothes with mainstream appeal. Unlike Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter collections, Resort remains on sales floors longest without ever going on sale.
If we consider that spring wares ship between February and April, with the biggest product drop in around mid-March (when it’s still freezing in most parts of the Western Hemisphere), that means there’s only a limited window of time (sometimes just six weeks) before the mid-season sales and markdowns begin. However, Resort lands in stores in November, and it stays on shop floors at full price until the next mid-season sale (almost six months) which makes it the most profitable season for most brands.
But That’s So Many Collections in a Year!
These constant appendages to the fashion schedule have become a little deranged. In fact, the crippling intensity of having to churn out an infinite number of collections is the biggest reason why we’re seeing record numbers of designers leave top posts at storied fashion houses. For example, Riccardo Tisci cited exhaustion among the many reasons on why he shockingly departed Givenchy after a 12-year tenure.
On top of Resort and Pre-Collections, almost every major brand at the top tier of luxury fashion and further down the totem pole will ice their annual offering of endless fashions with a slew of collaborations and capsules, and that literally happens year-round.
Couldn’t It All Be Simplified?
It could, but it probably won’t. Instead of increasing the number of collections per year, brands could simply split their “mainline” offerings into two distinct drops. This way both stores and consumers are getting four installments of fresh product at different dates. Of course, this won’t actually happen. However, more fashion brands are simply quitting the fashion calendar entirely.
In 2016, Proenza Schouler introduced an initiative called the ‘Proenza Schouler Early Edition’, by which eight looks from their Fall/Winter shows were made available to buy the very next day.
What does this mean? Well firstly, it means that Proenza Schouler is combining their ready-to-wear and pre-collections into one (unsurprisingly a large percentage of the brand’s sales come from Resort and Pre-Fall). Secondly, it means that they’re leaving the ready-to-wear schedule and moving to show independently.
There’s no doubting the commercial importance of Resort and other Pre-Collections, but given that the product offered has entirely deviated from the jargon that it’s supposed to be pushing (Resort is no longer strictly summer clothing), why doesn’t the industry just drop the outdated slang?
With seasonality and the fashion calendar coming into question, brands have to become more reactionary and produce new product more seamlessly, and everyone's favorite streetwear brand, Supreme, is a stellar example of a brand who gets it right. The streetwear giant will release product throughout the entire year, which means a constant and uninterrupted cash flow because consumers can always cop something new.
Given that luxury fashion and streetwear is officially the same thing, maybe its time the top tier of luxury stopped with the labyrinthine terminology of Resort and infinite Pre-Collections, and simply generate more drops, and call them just that, as your favorite streetwear brands have long done.