A Cautious Return to the Runway in Paris | The Week Ahead, BoF Professional

A Cautious Return to the Runway in Paris | The Week Ahead, BoF Professional

THE GRADUAL RETURN OF PHYSICAL FASHION SHOWS

  • Men’s fashion week kicks off in Paris on Tuesday

  • Dior and Hermès are among the handful of brands planning to host guests at physical shows, but digital presentations remain the most popular approach

  • France is planning to drop many of its remaining pandemic restrictions at the end of June, paving the way for more in-person runway shows on the schedule for couture week next month

Coronavirus restrictions are easing in France, but men’s fashion week will still be a largely digital affair this season in Paris. Hermès and Dior are among the few brands planning to stage physical shows with guests.

Those will test the water for couture week in July when more houses — including Chanel and Balenciaga — are scheduled to stage physical shows, and when more international guests are expected to make the trip in to see the collections. A number of firsts may give guests another reason to show up. Balenciaga’s show marks Demna Gvasalia’s couture debut. And Alaïa’s first runway show since Azzedine Alaïa’s death in 2017 is also on the schedule for July, marking the debut of creative director Pieter Mulier.

But there are also signs the recent fashion week fragmentation may be more permanent. There are still plenty of brands sticking to digital formats or eschewing organised fashion weeks altogether, including Saint Laurent and Gucci.

The Bottom Line: As fashion’s capitals look beyond the pandemic, the industry will be watching to see if, and how, fashion weeks return to a successful physical format.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR NIKE?

  • Nike reports fourth-quarter earnings on Thursday, wrapping up a turbulent and transformative year

  • Nike’s investments in direct-to-consumer and digital sales paid off during the pandemic, sending its stock to record highs

  • The brand missed analyst expectations on revenue growth in its most recent quarter, pointing to challenges ahead

Nike is a pandemic winner. The company’s stock soared to record highs over the last year as investments in e-commerce and direct retail paid off faster than originally anticipated. Analysts expect Nike to report year-on-year revenue growth of more than 15 percent when it publishes earnings for the 12 months to the end of May this week.

But investors are also looking for information on the brand’s strategy beyond 2020 under chief executive John Donahoe. Nike missed analysts expectations in the quarter ending February 28, citing shipment delays due to the pandemic. It’s undergone a reorganisation that’s seen several executive departures amid wider reports of cultural issues. And in recent months, Nike has faced other difficult headlines from a more consumer-facing perspective. The company drew backlash in China after disavowing the alleged use of forced labour in the country’s Xinjiang region, and gymnast champion and former ambassador Simone Biles defected for Gap Inc’s Athleta, citing better alignment on values.

The Bottom Line: Most analysts don’t believe these hiccups will cause real problems for the company, but the upcoming results should provide insights on how Nike plans to navigate the end of the pandemic.

AMAZON PRIME DAY

  • The retail juggernaut’s annual shopping event is back to its usual July schedule after the pandemic pushed last year’s sale to October

  • Amazon is promoting the sale on June 21 and 22 with a concert series starring Billie Eilish, H.E.R. and Kid Cudi

  • More than 40 percent of shoppers are planning to buy clothing, shoes and apparel during Prime Day, according to a survey from coupon company RetailMeNot

Amazon’s annual discount bonanza is back for the summer. Prime Day launched in 2015 to encourage shoppers to sign up for Amazon membership but is now marked by hundreds of competitors, too. Revenue from the sale in 2020 exceeded that of several other shopping holidays, including Black Friday and Thanksgiving, according to the Adobe Digital Economy Index.

Last year, Prime Day was moved to October because of the pandemic, but it’s back to its normal schedule this year, in time to boost Amazon’s second-quarter sales. Sales jumped 40 percent during the same period in 2020 as online shopping surged in the first months of lockdowns in the US. There are unconfirmed rumours Amazon will host another Prime Day in the autumn that could set a powerful precedent for retail discounting. (A spokesperson for Amazon did not respond to request for comment.)

Amazon is expected to use this Prime Day opportunity to push fashion and cosmetics, categories it already dominates in the US. While the depth of those promotions is typically deeper in other categories like electronics, Prime members will be able to buy Lady Gaga’s Haus Labs beauty brand at 60 percent off and Calvin Klein items at 20 percent off, among many other deals across categories. They’ll also be able to try Amazon’s curated “Personal Shopper” box of apparel for free.

The Bottom Line: Amazon is already a formidable competitor and the more members it attracts, the harder it becomes for department stores, boutiques and brands that are trying to control their distribution and pricing online.

The Week Ahead wants to hear from you! Send tips, suggestions, complaints and compliments to brian.baskin@businessoffashion.com.

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