First seen in the 1920s, cruise collections are highly anticipated events in the fashion world.
The genesis of the cruise show
The fashion world has a very precise calendar. It’s not just about the annual Women’s, Men’s and Haute Couture fashion shows. The four most famous cities in fashion, New York, London, Milan, Paris, go even further… Indeed, major fashion houses also unveil cruise collections by travelling to the four corners of the world.
Originally, cruise collections (called “cruise”, “resort”, “pre-spring” or “pre-fall”) were collections between two seasons, intended for a wealthy clientele, who fled cold countries to embark on long cruises in the sun of tropical countries. This practice appeared in the 1920s and was initially only popular in the United States. Reserved for the American jet set and celebrities, these collections solved the problem of a mid-season wardrobe, which was very practical for many trips.
Among the first designers to meet their expectations was Coco Chanel, but also Jean Patou, the king of “sportswear” at the time. The designer decided to create a new style: luxury sportswear. It became a real institution that crossed the Atlantic to seduce Europeans.
Nevertheless, with time, the cruise collections end up being forgotten. Going on holiday is no longer reserved for the elite and travel is now done at all times of the year. As a result, a specific wardrobe is no longer necessarily necessary.
Blockbusters from the luxury houses
It was in the early 2000s that the major fashion houses brought cruise collections back into fashion, and in particular one man, Karl Lagerfeld. Taking over from Chanel, Karl Lagerfeld started this tradition in the year 2000.
From then on, these shows are awaited by the entire fashion world and the public. The cruise shows are now blockbusters. Since the collections stay in the shops for the longest time, the outfits presented range from bikinis to coats to evening dresses.
It has become a real challenge for the fashion houses to diversify their offers at these shows. These events take place from May to June. The brands like to offer a spectacular show to their guests. Indeed, the decor, the atmosphere, the aesthetics, count as much as the collection presented.
Maria Grazia Chiuri has her models on the Plaza de Espana in Seville, while Kim Jones flies to Egypt and sets up her runway in front of the great pyramids. Chanel set foot in Dakar and Louis Vuitton at the Salk Institute in California.
These fashion shows are a tour de force, an opportunity for a house to show its greatness, and no expense is spared on the spectacular.
The economic stakes
A real super communication tool, the cruise show allows the brand to show off its products and to take its customers into its world. If the fashion weeks are reserved for professionals of the sector, the cruise shows allow the brands to invite their best customers and thus to increase their loyalty.
The cruise collections contribute to the international influence of the brand and attract new and local customers.
Financially, the main advantage of a cruise collection is that it remains in the shop for the longest time, up to 8 months for certain brands. Rich and varied in proposition, the collection brings a breath of fresh air for the customers while developing the offer. These fashion shows sometimes represent up to 50% of the brands’ annual turnover.
What is the future for cruise collections?
The too regular replacement of collections raises questions about the necessity and relevance of cruise collections. The current ecological context and the awareness of climate impacts are in total contradiction with the very idea of these fashion shows.
Some houses have chosen to give up these shows, and for those that continue, it is important to ask what will happen to their media image? Indeed, these shows, as spectacular as they are, have a negative ecological impact.
It is important to note that some houses have chosen to sacrifice the cruise collections and redefine their own collection calendar. The main objective: a sustainable development perspective. Despite the efforts of some brands, the main fashion houses continue to act without being aware of ecological issues. Could this be detrimental to their future? Only time will tell!
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