Many of the biggest labels in fashion didn’t start out offering clothing for men and women. They were born from women’s couturiers, or leather-goods businesses, and over time they branched into other offerings, including menswear. That legacy still turns up on the runway today in separate men’s and women’s shows, even if many collections now have the same designer, as they do at Gucci.
Because these shows run at different times, making clothes for men and women can be like running two fashion businesses instead of one. That’s why Gucci is putting an end to it. Marco Bizzarri, the Italian label’s CEO, announced today (April 5) at the New York Times luxury conference that, come 2017, the brand will show men’s and women’s together in a single collection.
“Moving to one show each season will significantly help to simplify many aspects of our business,” Bizzarri said in a statement. “Maintaining two separate, disconnected calendars has been a result of tradition rather than practicality.”
Burberry previously announced it would do the same, as has quickly rising Parisian label Vetements. While it may not be the right move for labels that do maintain distinct men’s and women’s businesses, such as Dior, the appeal is clear for the businesses that can manage it.
It also dovetails neatly with the rise of gender-neutral clothing. Labels from Prada to Zara have experimented with the unisex approach, and it’s part of the business at Vetements and Hood By Air.
Gucci’s creative director, Alessandro Michele, has routinely showed men’s and women’s together anyway at men’s and women’s runway events. ”It’s the way I see the world today,” Michele said in Gucci’s statement. “It will not necessarily be an easy path and will certainly present some challenges, but I believe it will give me the chance to move towards a different kind of approach to my story telling.”
Last year, research firm NPD group said retailers were missing a business opportunity by not offering more gender-neutral space in stores. You can expect to see more brands ditch the barriers between men and women in the year ahead.