Why Designers Are Focusing On Resort Collections in a Major Way

Resort is the new spring. Luxury fashion brands have been pulling out all the stops for their resort 2018 presentations, jet-setting around the globe to debut the latest pre-collections. Gucci showed its Renaissance-inspired collection at the Palazzo Pitti in Florence, Christian Dior debuted a bohemian lineup in Calabasas, Calif., and Louis Vuitton even went as far as Kyoto to display its Japanese-inspired line.

But what is resort wear? Who is buying it? And why should we care?

There is a reason designers are paying more attention to resort wear. In addition to tapping holiday consumers — most resort collections drop around November — their resort offering is one of the longest- and best-selling offerings of the entire year.

“Resort delivery is timed with the holiday season, making it one of the more important buys for our brand, with sales driven by Q4 seasonal shopping,” said Veronica Collins, president and COO of luxury brand Sarah Flint. “On average, a resort buy accounts for more than half of our total season buy, and we develop a larger assortment of shoes for resort market than spring.”

Gucci Resort 2018
Gucci resort ’18 collection.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock

What we’ve seen, then, is labels expand and sharpen their resort collections outside of just vacation wear. No longer used as a way to tease the larger spring offerings, the resort collections now have their own identity and aesthetic. We saw that at Chanel’s recent resort ’18 show (below), where Karl Lagerfeld took design inspiration from Ancient Greece (gladiator sandals were meant to mimic the shape of Greek pillars).

From a retailer perspective, resort season offers its advantages, too.

Roma Cohen, co-founder of The Alchemist in Miami, said the season offers the longest windows for merchandising needs. “Resort represents the majority of our yearly buys and budgets,” he said. “Pre-collections in general serve as the most lucrative collections to buy, because of the longer-selling windows they allow.”

Chanel Cruise 2018 Collection
Chanel resort ’18 collection.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock

Cohen explained that resort (cruise) collections can ship as early as October and November, allowing for over six months of selling time before markdowns begin. (Comparatively, the major spring collections ship as late as April, meaning there’s a smaller selling time before pre-fall collections hit stores).

But there are hurdles that both brands and retailers need consider. For instance: the fact that resort wear — which is typically summery and sandal-intensive — hits stores in the dead of winter. (Because nothing says beach slides like a snowstorm).

Collins acknowledges the unideal retail timing, saying brands should consider alternatives like “see now, buy now” if appropriate. “A customer that is buying a shoe in November and December wants to be able to wear it immediately, whether it be a holiday party or end-of-year vacation,” she said.

Prada Resort 2018
Prada’s resort ’18 collection.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock
Dior Resort 2018
Christian Dior’s resort ’18 collection, shown in California.
CREDIT: REX Shutterstock

For shoe highlights from resort ’18, click through the gallery.

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