Friday, February 10, 2012

Why Are There Swim Suits in Feburary?

About a year ago I did a post called Why can’t I buy gloves right now?  which I’ve been thinking about lately while riding my bike in the cold to Fall shows. I talked about how the delivery of goods to fashion stores each season (like Barneys or Saks) never really seems to be at the right time.


The problem is on cold days like these, when it’s freezing cold in February, I can’t find a pair of gloves because stores are full of swim suits and spring merchandise. However, yesterday in WWD I noticed that both Prada and Marc Jacobs are doing capsule collections [for Fall '12] that you can buy immediately following their shows.


It’s great to see designers delivering goods that are buy now/ wear now: even though this show says Fall/Winter 2012, Winter 2012 is happening right now! if they’re shipping immediately, what they’re actually giving you is Fall 2012/ Winter 2013. The knock-on effect of this trend is that two years down the line, will designers be able to have collections available immediately after their shows?


Imagine what this could mean ten years from now: Instead of having 2 shows per year, what if designers showed all four seasons and collections were available immediately? (We’re already seeing this seed planted with designers showing pre-fall/pre-spring collections that are becoming just as important as their main show)


Let’s say a designer, Michael Kors for example, showed Winter 2022 in January, Spring would show in April, Summer would show in June, and Fall would show in September…


Maybe this trend towards immediate shipping is a way to finally start filling the stores with season-appropriate merchandise.


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  1. comme fraiche

    February 10, 2012 at 3:33 pm

    I’m with you on this one, it just makes sense

  2. montes Y mills

    February 10, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    I actually think releasing right away might be better… with the speed that collections get out on the internet now the trends are over by the time the actual season comes. Which brings us back to relying on our own personal style- which is refreshing for those that have it and the time to think about it. but for the rest of the shopping world having collections available right away would level the playing field no?


  3. Eva

    February 10, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    Haha, that would be great. I have the same problem right now! My hands are freezing of but I can’t find some decent gloves that don’t look like I am going on an expedition to the North Pole…

  4. Jesse Hildebrand

    February 10, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    I’d love to see this! The worst part about the current method is that some things get overlooked. This summer I was looking for a pair of brown leather driver gloves locally (I have large hands and have a hard time finding a pair that fit nicely so I don’t want to buy online). In the summer stores said fall stuff was out of season, in fall they only had padded winter gloves and said wait till after Christmas for spring fashions to come in… and now all the stores are selling summer stuff??? When exactly IS the right time to buy unlined leather gloves?

  5. Snakeskin Jacket

    February 10, 2012 at 3:43 pm

    Wow, I understand your frustration! As much as I love the new summer collections, they really don’t keep me warm. I was lookign for a nice, simple, black beanie the other day, and just like you explained, all the winter accesories are beeing replaced by bikinis and flipflops…

    Love from London,

  6. Janet Rhoads

    February 10, 2012 at 3:44 pm

    I have friends who complain about this constantly. While I find it annoying to not be able to find winter items IN winter, I actually like that there are swimsuits out right now. I think it makes sense since so many people vacation in tropical climates in the winter and during March/April spring breaks. That said, it would be wonderful to have both!

  7. Hind

    February 10, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I hear you !
    I always get kind of frustrated by the S/S collections – an extravaganza of gorgeous summer dresses and sandals that I want to buy (and wear) RIGHT now before I remember – oh no!- I live in London and… I actually should be looking for a good coat and water resistant Wellies. Sigh, sigh.( I am not a winter clothing fan. In fact I don’t think I own any winter clothing expect for my coats. thank god for HeatTech ;))
    Anyway, because of that unfortunate phasing, I kind of disengage. By the time it is time to buy SS clothes here (March if we are lucky, July maybe if we’re not) I actually can’t remember in the 1st place what the shows were about more than 6 months ago.
    Given the commercialisation/digitisation pace we are living through, I certainly hope we are gonna get to the vision of timely clothes showing/buying/wearing…before 2022 :)
    bisous bisous

  8. Kate

    February 10, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    It is crazy how logical that idea is, an yet it has never been done. I am definitely in favor!

  9. Daniela

    February 10, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I totally agree. It’s annoying trying to find gloves, scarves and things like that since I really need them, RIGHT NOW but all I can find in stores are clothes for Spring, pastels, dresses, bikinis etc. And those of course you can’t wear right now, you have to wait til it’s warmer, it is so frustrating haha.

  10. Stylosophism

    February 10, 2012 at 4:07 pm

    You know, here in Milan there are only-glove-shop where you can buy a glove every given day, in summer as weel. Leather, cachemire, wool, fur, Whatever you want ;)

  11. Mary

    February 10, 2012 at 4:10 pm

    I agree. In Australia we are in the middle of summer and trying on jumpers. If we don’t buy them now, we miss out. It’s very difficult trying on winter clothes when it’s 30°C plus!

  12. princessglee

    February 10, 2012 at 4:12 pm

    Makes sense to me as a consumer. As a designer/manufacturer, not a good idea. Time is needed to order fabrics, trims, etc. And how much do you order because buyers wouldn’t have placed their orders yet? Then there’s the fitting and materials testing process…no…no…not a good idea.

  13. FashionTake-Out

    February 10, 2012 at 4:13 pm

    Swim suit maybe in stores because most people with money vacation to nice warm sunny places that extradite swimming, lying on the beach or under a cabanna…this could be one possible reason…what do you think?

  14. boxer's Adventures

    February 10, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Ohhh, the golden question ;)
    International Blog and Shop

  15. jennymarie

    February 10, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    Yes! try to find a simple cashmere pull over sweater in February. impossible!

  16. Gary

    February 10, 2012 at 4:25 pm

    I feel your pain. I was greatly surprised to see swimwear at the mall yesterday and, you know what, in Chicago as I am writing this, we are feeling temps in the 20s (with real-feel temp in the single digits). What’s up with that?!?

  17. Monica

    February 10, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I’ve always wondered how do fashionistas in the southern hemisphere look at the FW2012 season

  18. lintmag

    February 10, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I really never shop seasonally, and as I sway between thrift store and designer shop, if I see something I love, no matter what the weather, I will grab it.
    Fashion is so tricky – many times I think I’ve gotten to the store at the right time for a certain designer bit to be there, but they say “too early”, “too late”, or “our buyer didn’t order that, not sure if we’re getting any”. Frustrating!!
    Some salespeople are great and will call you if they get in what you want, while others concentrate only on customers that spend a great deal.

  19. JLE

    February 10, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    Swimsuits in February makes perfect sense if you live in Australia. The best thing about on-line shopping is that it lets Australians be ahead of the fashion curve rather than 18 months behind it!

  20. Mezzanine

    February 10, 2012 at 4:40 pm

    I have to agree with you, although as a boutique owner I also understand why spring collections start shipping in February. Stores need time to merchandise and promote the new collections, and sometimes customers actually need swimsuits in February if they are fortunate enough to be going to where the sun is this time of year. Granted customers also need things like gloves and cashmere, but don’t want to see your fall leftovers. So, to bring more seasonally appropriate merchandise in right now would mean greatly reduced sell times, and the moment spring is in the air no one will want the cashmere and gloves even if it is on sale. It’s a very delicate fashion ecosystem we are trying to sustain.

  21. james

    February 10, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Anything menswear related in NYC, 365 days a year, you have three options:

    Scott, are you reading? You should know this stuff:

    1. Paul Stuart (if it’s not on sales floor, its in the back stockroom, or can be ordered. Ask. You’ll find.)

    2. Davide Cenci on Madison. Same thing as #1.

    3. Me (see link)

    Everything is always available. And anything is possible.

  22. J.Mill

    February 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    Winter 2012 is happening right now, but so it vacation-to-Nicaragua-2012 and I would love to be able to find the right swim suit option even in winter!

  23. DanielJF

    February 10, 2012 at 5:05 pm

    I think part of the reasoning is that retail stores (especially mass retail stores, which operate on a thinner margin and have larger shipments) want to sell out of their winter stock before it gets warm. You don’t want to be stuck with 1,000 unsold Cashmere sweaters when its hitting 80 degrees on a freak day in late March. That being said, I work at Uniqlo, and we’ve had customers asking us for winter items everyday that we no longer have in stock, so there definitely is validity to the argument that they are also losing sales by not selling winter items when its still cold. I’m not quite sure what the solution is, but I don’t think we’re ever going see a complete change as long as they’re still seasons (which, if this winter is anything to judge by, isn’t much longer.)

  24. irene

    February 10, 2012 at 5:06 pm

  25. Claudine

    February 10, 2012 at 5:53 pm

    That would move us all toward Made in USA!

  26. Marcel Da Chump

    February 10, 2012 at 6:08 pm

    From my experience as an assistant to a garment center executive: the production/logistic goals are too tight to be met.

  27. Grace

    February 10, 2012 at 7:16 pm

    Wait a sec!
    Think about all us Australians and citizens below the equator. Our season is reversed, so we personally love being able to look at season-relevant runways and be inspired, despite the delay in stores stocking said designs. If designers did matched their collections to each individual season, we would be sourcing our Summer inspiration from Winter collections! Even though there is already a little of this going on in the blogosphere, I think it would be a little too exclusive! Just a thought.


    February 10, 2012 at 7:52 pm


  29. anna

    February 10, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I completely agree with you Scott!!

  30. sandrichka

    February 10, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    still won’t help us here in san francisco, where “summer” means long sleeves and sweaters and leather jackets! it always amuses me to see all the filmy sleeveless stuff in the store windows when it rarely goes above 60 from june through august, and the sun hides in the fog more often than it shines. it all goes on sale in september, just in time for our ACTUAL summer…

  31. ilegirl

    February 11, 2012 at 1:48 am

    I agree. It’s inconvenient during the chilliest part of the season to find sleeveless blouses when I am looking for long-sleeved knits!

  32. Cate

    February 11, 2012 at 3:07 am

    You are right but if you are going on holiday see lovely beach kaftans and embellished tunics

  33. Olena

    February 11, 2012 at 3:12 am

    As a customer, I agree with you, but as a professional who works in a fashion industry, I understand, that it is impossible to create a collection on such short term notice, and due to the rash, most of them will become less successful. There will be huge pressure on designers (never good) and on production (not for our benefit either). If she want to stay fashion, we gotta wait, and think about seasonal shopping in advance, while it is in stores.

  34. Meo

    February 11, 2012 at 3:40 am

    I fully agree!

  35. tj104h2o

    February 11, 2012 at 5:37 am

    That sounds nice! I’ve run into the same problem! But doesn’t it ruin the drama of revealing a future collection? A peak into future trends makes fashion exciting. I know technology is pushing us to a faster paced life…but aren’t old systems more interesting sometimes? I still enjoy receiving mail from friends even if emails are more practical.
    It sounds nice at first but I think it should stay the same! :)

  36. Ailin

    February 11, 2012 at 6:50 am

    I have doubts regarding this idea.
    The delay gives costumers time to sort out what they want to incorporate into their wardrobe from the new collections. It also gives a chance to buy sale items that will still be in next season. I know it isn’t very fashion forward, but regular people shop on sales.
    It is nice, at least for me, to wait for a desired item to hit the stores and I appreciate it more when I finally get it, than the impulse purchases. Wouldn’t this immediate availability cheapen high fashion and make it a bit like fast fashion?

  37. emy koster

    February 11, 2012 at 8:15 am

    This approach to fashion sounds so much more logical! It’s never really set right with me that we seem to be chasing fashion instead of being able to wear it in the season appropriate for it. Let’s hope it happens, do keep us updated. I love reading your thoughts once in a while! Have a great NYFW

  38. B.

    February 11, 2012 at 8:22 am

    what you’re saying does make sense in a way. I’m constantly looking at spring clothes, mini dresses, sandals… but there is no way I can wear those beautiful items right now because it is literaly freezing… and exactly at the same time winter 2012 items are on the runway, which I need, but can’t buy

  39. Lisa

    February 11, 2012 at 8:23 am


    Just a semantics point – I think you mean the knock on effect rather than the not gone effect.

  40. Sabina

    February 11, 2012 at 9:03 am

    Amen. I’ve never understood retailers’ approach of pretending it’s the next season, especially since I don’t know anyone who’s ever fallen for it!

  41. Courtney

    February 11, 2012 at 9:16 am

    wow this is a really interesting idea. I have the same problem, when it’s the heart of winter and I need to stock up on a good coat or pair of gloves all the stores are sold out. The idea of having current fashions for the season available right then is genius!

  42. Tree

    February 11, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Bravo, you’ll help the industry if you can help move this forward! Meanwhile, QVC is showing their clout as a new kind of retail giant by selling Spring 2012 merchandise during Fall 2012 Fashion Week!

  43. danny

    February 11, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Makes perfect sense! The shows are all over the internet within minutes! We see them worn by a few style setters (stylists and Shala M) within a few weeks. Show clothes traditionally have a shorter store life anyway so sales are often smaller. They’re also more expensive due to their elaborate structures and decoration. I have the impression that companies like Prada are on the ball, making limited amounts for their store network. If they can make a minimum production and send them out straight away all the better! Striped fur stoles available in cold Feb rather than in hot July…

  44. Miley

    February 11, 2012 at 10:46 am

    You may have forgotten just a little detail, the buyers from department stores and boutiques needs to decide what to buy before the stock can be produce. The fashion business may be magical however the stock doesn’t magically appear in the warehouse. Fabrics need to be ordered, printed, cut, sewn, QCed. And often what was shown on the runway isn’t exactly the same as what gets sold in the stores, there will be minor alterations to make the garments fit more “general” body type. All these takes time.
    No designers know what in their collection will sell best, they may have a vague idea but until the collection is shown and reviews come in, nobody is sure as to how big a quantity should be produced. If all designers have unlimited source of money to create stock that may not sell well, then yes, the industry and become “show now buy now”. But unfortunately, what you are asking the industry to turn into is not realistic at all.

  45. Christina

    February 11, 2012 at 11:17 am

    There was such a subtle beauty in the methodical purchase of spring clothing in the winter in preparation for the warm weather. It was refined, gentle and well thought out, and it meant you were living a well paced life.

    Sadly Scott, this is not all about you and your ill prepared hands, or your need for the industry, which runs at a pace so fast now that the end is really the beginning, to accomodate your nano second attention span.

    So odd that you, a man who captures beauty and style in a photo…a medium that gives time to admire and treasure a trend or individuality….would be so rushed about life.

    Great things come to those who wait and even if Saks had gloves when you want them I am sure it would not be soon enough.

  46. Deee

    February 11, 2012 at 11:31 am

    Nice fantasy, but I wonder how many labels could stay in business if they produced all their merchandise before taking orders. It doesn’t make any sense from the supply and distribution side of business. That isn’t to say that we couldn’t still have winter clothes on shelves in winter etc., but lines that are ready to ship immediately upon showing? How could that work?

  47. Steve

    February 11, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Think about runway shows, I find them the oddest thing out there…
    You show to the entire world what you are going to make for the following season.
    Giving bad designers and copycats alike 6 months they need to produce cheap knock offs or improvements on the designs.
    Stop the shows , get the buyers to one place for a day and get their orders… Make it an experience for them that oozes brand identity and no camera’s allowed.Then send the buyers away with items that they loved from the signing and I think you get a different vibe in fashion along

  48. Nastya Said

    February 11, 2012 at 12:25 pm

    when I started take an interest in fashion this was my very first question: “why? why? I don’t want to prepare for fashionable look, I want to make it right now!”
    I guess gradually this situation will change. At least I hope so…

  49. FrannyK

    February 11, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    I do understand all the points stated to keeping things as they are but… I strongly believe shops really are missing out on a lot of sales they could have made. So many people I know agree. Whilst I might try to buy something I like whatever the season, I’m definitely not in the mood to even try on floaty summer pastels when it’s minus something in the middle of the winter, and equally when it’s hot, buying a jumper is the last thing on my mind. My friend in New Zealand seems to have the same problem, the opposite way round. Surely there can be some ‘meeting in the middle’, keeping a range of nice quality season appropriate items, rather than the dregs we seem to get. As for the person who said ‘Ask, it’s always there’ – I’d love to live near that kind of store, but I that’s not the answer I’d get round here!

  50. vincenzo

    February 11, 2012 at 1:27 pm

    first world problems.

  51. Olivia

    February 11, 2012 at 1:52 pm

    I just wrote and edited a feature for San Francisco Magazine about how boutiques here are already doing this — manipulating their merchandise independent of fashion cycles because of our ridiculous weather! They are also really good at stocking tailored shorts/skits/dresses that can be paired with tights and making sure to keep a good amount of microfiber tights at all times of the year.

  52. Siobhan Ali chikh

    February 11, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    I have often wondered this. Whenever I see a great collection I get so inspired and want to start wearing the looks straight away. You look at clothes from when they are shown and by the time it comes to actually wear them you have already seen the collections for the next season. Only time will tell as to whether a change will ever come about.

  53. Liz Kofman

    February 11, 2012 at 6:14 pm

    This would require a massive speed up of labor. Just-in-time production and speed are great for consumers, but mean increased pressure on workers (usually without additional pay or benefits). This kind of demands from consumers will pressure designers to turn from high-skill, well-paid labor in Europe to lower-skilled, but faster and cheaper workers in the Global South. Quality and labor standard will suffer. But you’ll get to have that seasons clothes immediately! Is it really worth it?

  54. renata

    February 11, 2012 at 6:17 pm

    I get why designers show so far in advance (to take orders from buyers, produce the goods, and deliver them by Spring) but I dont get why buyers actually put out the merch so early. In fact, I’m writing an article about the loooong journey of clothing, from sketch to closet, for Stuff Magazine in Boston, I’ll send you a link when its published.


  55. Alice

    February 11, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    Well here in Sydney where it’s still Summer you can buy gloves and coats and boots and all the wintry goods you could possibly desire!

  56. marisa

    February 11, 2012 at 8:25 pm

    I agree, I think it’s silly to have summer clothes in February because at the end of the day more people are looking for gloves than there are people looking for bathing suits.

  57. ms jane

    February 12, 2012 at 1:06 am

    Also I hate the fact that in the last week of December the supermarkets are full of hot cross buns and easter eggs!

  58. Andy

    February 12, 2012 at 3:19 am

    I can understand the fustration. However we al know that winter is coming so come prepared. And I presume that most readers of this wonderful blog have enough Nice clothing to wear for every occasion.

  59. niquee

    February 12, 2012 at 3:23 am

    what frustrates me is that I never know when and where to find the stuff I saw in magazines like Vogue, etc or on fashion blogs. Will this stuff hit stores next season? next year? or is it in stores right now? It’s so confusing.

  60. helen

    February 12, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Crazy as it is….though am in retail sales>>>Totally frustrated from buying what I need for the actual season I am in.. This should definitely change or at least continue to sell the proper clothing and accessories for the weather/season we are in at the time.
    It is not cool and plain stupid moronic to only find and see just spring/summer stuff when we are trying to replace a thermal beanie or gloves that got lost …and all we are bombarded are those teeny shorts and thin tees. REPEAT INDEFINITELY….CRAZY AS IT IS……..

  61. Tanya

    February 12, 2012 at 7:42 pm

    As long as you don’t manufacture halfway across the globe, like in China, Vietnam or Cambodia, quick deliveries in stores would be easier to make a reality.

  62. hung

    February 13, 2012 at 2:31 am

    maybe instead of celebrity wearing ‘fresh off the catwalk’, it will be catwalk key looks ‘fresh off the celebrity’ if PR is done before the shows.

    Isn’t in the past, the mentality was that people wanted to shop first for the next season so that they are the most fashion forward? Plus rich people vacate so it doesn’t matter the climate.

  63. Consuelo

    February 13, 2012 at 7:14 am

    Thank you Scott!! Very important concept ! You have a way of seeing and condensing important info!!!

  64. Annabelle

    February 13, 2012 at 11:45 am

    I have bemoaned that problem many times myself. Particularly the year when I lost a glove in January and could not find another pair in the stores for the life of me. I realize that some people go to the tropics in January, but really, can’t we save some room for clothing appropriate to the weather right outside the store doors?

  65. Stylefootprints

    February 13, 2012 at 4:49 pm

    I like where your heads at. I went on holidays at the end of August last year, it was still summer weather but it was a nightmare trying to find a maxi dress because it was all only the winter collections in all the shops.

  66. izzit

    February 13, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    Thanks for saying this – it’s ridiculous in the age of instant communication, when you can see a collection the moment it appears on the runway, that it’s labeled “Next Season/(next year) ” … Meanwhile, it finally gets snowy in January but all there is in the stores are resort sandals and spring dresses, not an extra pair of gloves to be found… then four months later, some magazine thinks you’ll be amazed by the news that “X” is in for “Spring” (when in reality, “x” peaked four months earlier when the fashion cogniscenti wore it with longjohns and boots)… as if you don’t have the Internet in Peoria, already.

  67. sarah

    February 14, 2012 at 1:29 am

    hm. If I may venture an opinion from the lower socio-economic classes, the time delay inherent in the current structure allows someone like me time to consider the trends and colour palettes and to subsequently incorporate similar items that *are* at my price point (some of which I make by hand) into my wardrobe. I think the current structure makes it possible for people who are not in the upper classes a chance to join in the fun – so I’m partial to the current arrangement.

  68. Patricia Barrera

    February 14, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    Please consider the workers who have to make all of these clothes! I, too, was very keen on supply on immediate demand. And while I do support the concept, I read an article that really gave me food for thought. It explained how the garment workers were already being given such short turn-around time on orders that on-the-job injuries were on the rise, even longer than the normal almost slave-length work hours were increasing and, sadly, the cost of their labor was going down! Something to consider.

  69. Assen

    February 15, 2012 at 6:14 am

    Of course it will be challenging to designer if you keep the same time line for the major shows. Why not change it. Have fall winter shows mid year – may-July showing winter gear. In stores at that time is summer gear. For the buyers, editors, they can ses he shows then, order (3 months) window or what is needed so come august, September, winter gear is ready in stores. Then have summer shows in November.

    Something will have to change presto.

  70. Gabriel

    February 15, 2012 at 4:45 pm

    That would be simply GENIOUS! That’s exactly what the fashion world needs!

  71. Phob

    February 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

    Dear Sartorialist,

    There are swimsuits in February because here in Australia it is Summer! For the Southern Hemisphere, in fact. And where do people want to go in the Northern Winter? South :-)


  72. Travis

    February 23, 2012 at 10:18 am

    This is why Zara and H&M are killing it right now (beyond their respective price points). As a store, I’d think that you’d want something new everytime someone poked their head into your shop. In reallity, there’s a 3 week window at the beginning of the season, and a little shot of newer goods a little later. That’s it. And while some people do want to buy a swim suit to go on vacation in Feb., far more people want a sweater – except that every dept. store has them on sale. And yes, people look forward to Spring fashions in the winter. It’s cold outside, and the cheerful colors help you daydream away the blues. However, the opposite is not true. Not that many people handle flannel,cords, cashmere, etc. in August dreaing about
    crisp fall nights ahead. While the manufacturer doesn’t give ou much choice in your delivery, you can choose when to display it. Yes, I know you’re paying for it so you want to sell it right away. , So it’s a delicate balance.

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