Looking at new runway images from a slew of designers' resort collections around the globe, one might wonder: What the heck is this season about, anyway? Well, we're here help: Here's the lowdown on the fashion season that increasingly means big business for designers and retailers. And it has less to do with dressing the upper crust for tropical getaways than you might think.
Daily Context: So What Is Resort, Exactly?
By Leah Bourne
Wednesday, Jun 15, 2011 Updated at 6:13 PM EDT
What is Resort?
Some designers call it resort. Others call it Pre-Spring. Others call it Cruise. For practical purposes, these names all signify basically the same thing (Cynthia Rowley often jokes that she is going to start numbering her collections 1, 2, 3). Whatever designers call it, it’s a collection that lands in stores in October and often sits on the floor for as long as five months to act as a transitional season between fall and spring. While the term "resort" often conjures up images of bathing suits and caftans, designers are increasingly viewing this collection as simply another delivery into the stores. This year, for instance, J. Mendel showed evening gowns, Donna Karan showed body-conscious dresses and Gucci highlighted1960s-inspired cocktail suits in their resort collections.
Add into the mix another season called Holiday and things get particularly confusing. Nicole Miller, for instance, shows a holiday collection geared towards the cocktail party circuit, and then also has a resort collection, which looks towards the spring season. While they both land in stores around the same time, holiday has a much more shorter shelf life and is more seasonally driven.
Importance to Designers and Retailers
Feeding the consumer demand for something new is increasingly important for designers and retailers who are forced to compete with the Zara’s of the world (and their constant turn-over of inventory). Consumers expect something new all the time, and designers are therefore delivering.
Designers and retailers both love resort -- as well as that other transitional season, Pre-Fall -- because it sits on the shelves the longest of any season, and much of that time at full price. Chris Benz says, “It’s super important. It’s on the floor the longest, for us it’s a really important delivery. We’ve done resort since the beginning.”
His most recent resort collection, which took its cues from "vacationing royals farming lilies in Bermuda, Marie Antoinette style," while certainly whimsical, is focused squarely on the kind of clothes that women want to buy. Benz says he thought a lot about "American sportswear and easy layering pieces."
Traditionally, designers play with ideas on the Fall and Spring runways, and then think about their customers needs during the transitional seasons including Resort. Benz says, "It’s my favorite season. It’s also the only season that lines up with the time of the year. These are the clothes that you want to wear now."
Beyond their shelf life, Resort also offers the opportunity for designers to grow their brand in a safe way (instead of launching a diffusion line or introducing a new product category). Joseph Altuzarra, who is showing resort for the first time this season, says, "This will stabilize our cash flow and will allow us to keep on growing the company in an organic way instead of trying to triple our show collections."
The Increased Spectacle
Despite the increasing attention being paid to resort collections, they are nothing new. Major houses like Christian Dior and Chanel have shown four collections a year since the Post-World War II era. What has changed is the sheer number of designers showing (which means more attention being paid to the season) and the spectacle involved. In the past, resort collections were shown via appointment to editors and buyers, but now there are full-on runway shows and intricate presentations. Karl Lagerfeld hosted the Chanel Resort show on the beach in Antibes, France this year. Stella McCartney hosted a garden party to showcase her resort collection (pictured), drawing the likes of Bono and Liv Tyler. And Salvatore Ferragamo is showing its resort collection later this month at the James B Duke Mansion in the Upper East Side of New York. Unlike Spring and Fall fashion weeks, there is no set Resort calendar. While most designers show during the first two weeks in June, Resort presentations often stretch out through the month.
Up-and-Comers Get In The Game
Carly Cushnie, of Cushnie et Ochs, says: "This is our third season showing resort and our first showing resort to the press. In the past, we have shown it only to buyers as a small capsule collection, but it's important and we have grown it, and so we thought we might as well show it this season."
Cushnie et Ochs isn’t the only design house launching resort this season: Ohne Titel, Michael Angel and Prabal Gurung are also joining the resort club with the hopes of building their brands. It’s a signal that the resort season is increasingly becoming status quo for just about every designer working today.