16 March 2014

From Runway to Retail


Everyone knows that cerulean sweater speech from the Devil wear Prada (and if you don't, you better get yourself to watching that movie). And I suppose it's quite true.. but a bit more complicated than how Miranda Priestly puts it- the process of having a collection put on the runway then having it condensed down to be put on racks and bought by consumers for half of the price of what a runway piece costs (sometimes) confuses a lot of people. But I guess my driving force for this post is that someone once told me that the runway concept of CdG was a "stupid" because the garments were unwearable. While it's true that some things on the runway are unwearable, it's not stupid.
Fashion is not stupid, it is never stupid. It is a progressing industry of ideas and concepts that can enchant people.


The way designers get their designs from runway to retail happens in different steps. Seasonal fashion shows occur (Spring-Summer, Fall-Winter, Pre-fall etc) and are attended by the likes of fashion editors, journalists, stylists, buyers, celebrities and bloggers. Can't make it to the actual show? No worries, just find yourself a stream and you too can become apart of the once-tight-knit industry from the luxury of your own room thanks to one wi-fi connection. From there, it's all about connections with the retail industry that get some garments off the runway straight onto racks. Designers like Alexander Wang tend to bring their collections straight into the market for people who really want to create a new trend (or just have money tbh).
Majority of the time though, garments are tailored down to suit regular consumers like you and I to ensure that it meets the requirements of being something wearable. This is when people go into showrooms and look at pieces from the runway and decide what they'd like to see in shops. From there, designers make (in bulk) a down-sized version of a piece. Every designer house has a design team that takes a look at trends and styles that consumers want and tailor that into runway collections, thus creating things that people buy, wear and personalise.
TL;DR is that the runway isn't a place to buy clothes, it's merely a place to observe and understand ideas and concepts. Designers make things that retailers want to stock then condense it down.
Most designers allow certain people in the industry to go to their showroom to look at runway pieces and pick out what would be good for consumers, what should be toned down. Most of the time it's kept hush-hush, but since the revolution of technology and phones, a lot of sneaky pictures are taken. Sometimes people are given the chance to actually share pictures of garments to spread the word, like A.Wang below.

Alexander Wang S/S'14 showroom. Image from fashiontoast
Most recently, an example of something that's made it straight from the runway to retail is Moschino, (with Jeremy Scott as the creative mind behind the runway) popular runway pieces such as the Mcdonalds bag, shirt and phone case went straight to the market, now with a large handful of fashion-proclaiming lovers and bloggers (and celebrities) walking around with a Moschino-Mcdonalds iPhone case and jumpers. I think it comes down to the power of the press, if something is well received then designers have the affirmation of an image to their brand, then release it straight to the stores where adoring fans get their hands on it.

From moschino's instagram, Anna Dello Russo wearing the garments straight from the runway.
But in saying that, since Jeremy is the new head for Moschino, it's likely that he's made this available readily for the market! Looking at the designer label's website, this collection has been made to be a capsule collection that can be purchased online. 

Elie Saab S/S '13 condensed from the runway to retail for consumers; you can probably see the difference between the
way the dresses have been cut and the use of fabrics too.
So then, this begs the question: what happens to the other runway pieces that no-one can wear? Use Comme des Garçons as an example. Some pieces are too artistic or conceptual to actually have in wardrobes (Take their F/W 2012 collection). Unless you're rich and can afford these pieces, or have a unique sense of fashion and style, you'll only ever see these pieces used in magazine editorials, on display for museums, put in their showrooms and basically just there to remind consumers of their image. Unlike fashion-forward designers who go straight for street-fashion or consumers, some designers don't many much money from RTW, infact it's impossible if a designer label considers themselves to be avant-garde. Therefore they rely more on commercial (like shirts, bags) items and fragrances.

Occasionally some pieces from CdG get straight to people in the industry as a way of commercial advertising
So next time you want to question why clothes on the runway are so hideous or too artsy or weird to even consider wearing, just remember that they get condensed down, and that the basic black shirt you're wearing isn't just a basic black shirt that you got for $10 at Topshop, but probably a toned down version of a silhouetted and well tailored cut shirt from Celiné that you didn't even consider about.