UPDATE 3-Burberry, Tom Ford align runway shows with retail availability

* Burberry cuts number of fashion shows a year to 2 from 4

* Firm focusing on getting products faster to global market

* Tom Ford also to sell collection on same day as Sept show (Recasts with Tom Ford statement)

LONDON/PARIS, Feb 5 (Reuters) - Design houses Burberry and Tom Ford on Friday announced new strategies that will allow them to close the gap between the runway and retail in order to get clothing and accessories more quickly to customers in different climates around the world.

British heritage brand Burberry said it would no longer present two womenswear and two menswear shows a year, but instead hold February and September shows that would feature both menswear and womenswear collections.

Ford on Friday abruptly cancelled his New York fashion week show later this month for his autumn/winter collection. Ford instead will debut the collection in early September and make it available to purchase in stores and online on the same day.

Major luxury brands such as Dior, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and Gucci have increased the number of annual collections in recent years from four to six, adding cruise and resort collections on top of the traditional ready-to-wear and couture collections, to raise brand awareness and lure more customers with more options.

The move by Burberry will make it logistically easier to get new fashions more quickly to customers, who increasingly want to order items fresh off the catwalk via mobile phones rather than waiting months for them to appear in store, the brand said.

“From live streams to ordering straight from the runway, to live social media campaigns, this is the latest step in a creative process that will continue to evolve,” Chief Executive Christopher Bailey said in a statement.

Ford said debuting a collection from his privately-held brand on the runway four months before it is available to purchase “is an antiquated idea and one that no longer makes sense.”

“Our customers today want a collection that is immediately available,” Ford said in a statement.

The designer broke with tradition last February when he debuted his collection in Los Angeles ahead of the Oscars rather than at London Fashion Week, to capitalize on the news spotlight in Hollywood.

Burberry said it would continue to hold small events or fashions shows in some of its important markets.


The changes may help Burberry and Ford fight competition from fast fashion retailers such as Inditex’s Zara which can put out new ranges in a matter of weeks inspired by catwalk trends without the expense of celebrity designers and fashion shows.

They also come at a time when designers have become increasingly vocal about the hectic pace of fashion and the demands of communicating online on social networks. When Raf Simons left Dior and Alber Elbaz was sacked from Lanvin last year, they both complained about the fast pace of the industry.

“Fashion shows have become a way to communicate to the media, and the same journalists cover both womenswear and menswear,” said Exane BNP Paribas analyst Luca Solca.

“Hence, it makes a lot of sense to combine the two, as you save money in the process and you can make a louder bang with your bucks.”

The race to wow journalists by showing resort and cruise collections in unusual places has intensified.

Last spring, Chanel flew journalists to Seoul, LVMH’s Louis Vuitton took them to Palm Springs and Dior whisked them back to Europe just days before the Cannes film festival.

This year, Chanel will be showing its cruise collection in Cuba in May, while Kering’s Gucci this week said it would present in June its cruise collection in London’s Westminster Abbey, where Prince William married Kate Middleton. (Additional reporting by Piya Sinha-Roy in Los Angeles; Editing by Keith Weir and Mark Potter)