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Retailers Highlight a Season of Statements: Coats, Shoes — And Ukraine

Retailers Highlight a Season of Statements: Coats, Shoes — And Ukraine

Paris Fashion Week delivered a string of strong collections that left retailers confident about the fall season, but the outbreak of the war in Ukraine turned the expected triumphant return to physical shows and in-person events into a more reflective moment as industry executives were keenly aware of the conflict’s impact on the fashion community.

“The juxtaposition of Parisian glamour and fashion with what is happening in Eastern Europe made the week more difficult to enjoy than normal. We are thinking of our partners, friends and those being impacted by war and are helping in ways in which we can from afar,” said Elizabeth and Dominick Lepore, owners of Jimmy’s, New York.

“It was a powerful week where collections got personal and sentiments of community and love prevailed,” wrote Rickie de Sole, women’s designer fashion and editorial director at Nordstrom.

Demna’s powerful and personal statement at Balenciaga about the Ukraine war was top-of-mind for all, who praised the designer’s ability to create a thought-provoking, relevant moment.

The overarching impression was that the City of Light delivered in terms of fashion and retail.

“Merci Paris! We couldn’t have asked for a better marriage of creativity and salability,” said Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and director of women’s fashion and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, noting that “many collections were actually some of their best ever,” which she attributed to pandemic-driven reflectiveness.

“It was extra meaningful to get face time with the designers themselves. The industry was, and is, understandably conflicted about its meaning in the context of the next growing crisis, and we appreciated the thoughtful and moving responses from numerous houses, as it helped us contextualize our purpose here,” she added.

As for digital, it is here to stay. While seeing products in person certainly encouraged buyers to snap up new talent and write more robust orders, travel remains challenging and not all teams were on the ground in Paris. Platforms like Joor and Nu-order remained an essential tool, according to Kirna Zabete’s Beth Buccini. Their use went from in-person order taking during appointments and continued remotely to finalize selections, even for Europe-based retailers.

Emerging talent stood to benefit the most from IRL formats, as stores felt that showrooms, including the one showcasing the 2022 LVMH Prize semifinalists, were “a great place to engage with new designers and reunite” with those they already had their eyes on, according to Browns’ buying director Ida Petersson.

So what did retailers have on their radar? Statement outerwear and towering footwear — especially boots of all shapes — will be the defining look of fall 2022, while evening looks were also on many of their shopping lists. Black and Valentino’s PP Pink got numerous callouts, while pops of color and luxurious textures provided depth.

On the accessories front, bags will grow bigger and bolder, and look out for Saint Laurent-style stacks of bracelets: they’ll no doubt be a major styling move.

And the season was an opportunity to add to pre-collections, with Buccini adding she was focused on “rounding out our pre-collection orders with sexy, special evening looks, emotional colors, great outerwear and buttery soft leathers.”

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