How Fashion Seasons Work

We break down the seasons.

Fashion Week takes place twice yearly, with emerging and established designers showcasing their new season collections to industry insiders – but if you’ve ever been confused about which fashion seasons they’re actually showing, you wouldn’t be the first.

If you don’t work in fashion (and even if you do), it can be really confusing. Which collections are shown in February and September? And what are they called?

READ MORE: 8 Key Trends For Autumn Winter 2022 You Need to Know About Now

Once you understand it, it actually makes a lot of sense. Fashion works ahead, so Fashion Week is never about the current season.

susie bubble at lfw
Morgane Maurice

Here, we break it down for you.

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What are the fashion seasons called?

Fashion is actually split into four seasons.

These are spring summer, autumn winter (or fall, if you’re based in the US), Resort and Pre-Fall.

The two main seasons are spring summer (SS) and autumn winter (AW) and these are the collections shown at Fashion Weeks in Paris, Milan, New York and London around February and September every year.

When do the fashion seasons run?

This is where it gets a little confusing. Spring summer starts in January and lasts until June, while autumn winter runs from July to December.

Resort collections overlap this and are offered from October to December, while Pre-Fall is in stores before the AW collections arrive.

The confusion comes of course as summer and Resort collections are sold in January, when it’s cold! It’s the same when it comes to winter; winter clothing is sold in July, when it’s still warm out.

This is because fashion brands and retailers like to offer fashion lines early. The old season will then go into sale.

asian woman wears green blazer, a black top and white shorts, cowboy boots, and holds a green leather bag as she stands in front of a brick wall

However in 2016, Burberry started a ‘see now, buy now’ approach. This means the pieces shown on their runway are put up for sale right away. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Tom Ford followed suit.

Designers have also started to become more veering away from the traditional seasons when it comes to their pieces.

Giambattista Valli, for instance, focused on pastels — which are usually reserved for spring — for the house’s autumn winter 2020 collection.

Some designers have also included turtlenecks and boots in their spring summer collections, while others have featured sleeveless knitwear and coats in their autumn winter collections.

READ MORE: This 70s-Inspired Accessory is the Missing Piece of Your Summer Wardrobe

Fashion Week

It gets even more confusing when it comes to Fashion Week.

Spring summer collections are shown to press at Fashion Week in September for the following summer, while AW collections are shown in February for the following winter.

Fashion Week informs the trends for the season, so collections must be shown early.

Retail buyers need time to view the collections and decide which pieces to go with, then designers need time to manufacture the orders. Fashion editors also need time to select samples and shoot editorials for the season, informing their readers of the trends before they hit stores.

Resort and Pre-Fall collections don’t have their own Fashion Weeks, so brands often shoot them independently and send them out to press. Others choose to hold their own presentations or shows.

We hope that’s helped you understand the seasons a little better. For more, read our comprehensive guide to LFW.

london fashion week attendees
Morgane Maurice

What about fast fashion?

Fast fashion is another matter entirely, with new products coming out all the time.

It moves incredibly quickly from trends seen on the catwalk or worn by celebrities to stores.

Zara reportedly drops a new collection every two weeks, which equates to an unbelievable 24 per year.

What’s a cruise collection?

A cruise collection is the same as a resort collection.

This refers to holiday collections and originated from the idea of wealthy customers going on cruises during the winter.

What does SS and AW mean?

SS and AW are abbreviations of spring summer and autumn winter. These refer to the two main seasons across fashion.