Proenza Schouler to keep its Pre-Fall 2016 collection images under wraps and off Instagram

Instagram has been the catwalk eyes so far this Pre-Fall 2016 season, offering up immediate access to Chanel’s extravagant movie set in Rome to Burberry’s military inspired look, straight to the app’s feed.

Now one New York design duo is calling time on this idea.

In an interview with WWD, Proenza Schouler designers Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough revealed that they will not be unveiling the imagery from their collection until the garments hit stores.

“We’re just looking at our own situation and trying to find something that makes sense for us. We’re not [instigating] this whole industry-wide shift. It makes sense to release a collection closer to when you can buy it. It’s as simple as that,” said McCollough.

The move is a direct response to what is happening in fashion at the moment, with pressure on designers to produce an increased amount of collections, and the pressure to be popular off the runway too, by dominating social media feeds.

But now Proenza Schouler are going against the status quo.

“It’s a bold move for the designers, and it reflects the concerns that a lot of designers have about exposure in an Instagram age. If you have spent time and energy crafting a collection, you want to dazzle and impress consumers with it, releasing imagery close to the in-store date, using the pictures as an incentive to buy. You don’t want images of your collection leaked so that high street stores have six months to copy the designs,” says WGSN Head of Catwalks Lizzy Bowring.

“You also don’t want consumers suffering from fashion ennui because they’ve already seen every look on their social media feeds months before,” adds Bowring.

With the rise of fast fashion this is a great stand the Proenza Schouler designers are making to keep their design talent and ideas under wraps.

However, it’s not that simple. In the past Lazaro and Jack have worked together with Instagram and spoken about how powerful a tool it is for their business. At a Fast Company event recently with Eva Chen of Instagram they revealed that they use the tech tool for their research. They even debuted their Fall Winter 2015 collection and behind the scenes imagery on Instagram in September.

Within this context the move looks less convincing.

“The designers have definitely made an impact with their announcement, but personally I feel like it’s a bit of a publicity tactic. Tom Ford did a similar thing, going down this exclusivity route back in September 2010, when he only invited top editors and 100 people total to his New York Fashion Week show, getting Beyoncé to walk,” says WGSN Director of Womenswear & Colour Jane Boddy.

“However, the thing about fashion is that it should be democratic and open to all, not hidden behind a wall. The hype is about seeing it, not hiding it,” adds Boddy.

It will be interesting to see if the fashion brand persists with this strategy after Pre-Fall, and how fashion as a whole deals with the problem of the six-month lead time.

“Because fashion is becoming increasingly democratic, preventing broader access in this way could backfire for the label, as it means that its fans won’t be able to feel as though they are connected to the brand,” says WGSN Senior Editor, Retail Intelligence Petah Marian.

“In time, higher-end designers are going to have to start following fast fashion’s lead and shorten the time from show to market, some brands are already doing this, with labels like Burberry offering products directly from the catwalk,” she adds.

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