Pre-fall From Carolina Herrera, Chanel, Donna Karan

By now you may have noticed sustained coverage of a seemingly new season in fashion called “pre-fall.”

Before we get too specific, let’s just gloss (it is what we do) over the larger fashion calendar and make sure everyone is up to speed.

The ‘fashion calender’ is divided into two major seasons: Spring/Summer occurs from roughly January to June, Fall/Winter from July to December, with Fashion Week occurring in February (when fall is shown) and September (spring). Fashion Week, of course, is a chance for retailers to scope designers’ collections and figure out what they’ll be buying for the next season. Traditionally, fall fashions show up in stores late summer (think in time for back-to-school shopping, etc.)

So, what’s all this about pre-fall?

Pre-fall, like the resort collections before it, is what you might call a seasonlet, a quickly-becoming-official addition to the fashion calendar. The presentations are smaller scale and more mainstream than their fall and spring counterparts, because they are largely motivated by commercial opportunity.

In other words, pre-fall is a chance to make some extra scratch in a time when Spring has faded but the (larger, more significant) fall clothes are still in the manufacturing process. The demand is there because the season changeover can be trying (for retail, especially) with spring items having gone on permanent sale while fall items haven’t yet been delivered. Resort, on the other hand, has traditionally been the dominion of rich people who need monokinis in the middle of winter because they’ll be jetting off to Fiji to escape the chill.

But these baby seasons aren’t just a confluence of consumer/retail need. They are of particular interest to the fashion press because they offer a little distillation of insight into what designers are thinking about for their encroaching major collections.

These seasonlets are by no means new, but it would seem that “pre-fall” has only recently made its way into the larger fashion lexicon, with the press eagerly following these miniature glimpses of what’s to come in fall and spring.

(Runway images via New York Magazine)