In addition to retailers (like fashion buyers), fashion designers and manufacturers also market their products directly to consumers as well as to the media (fashion journalists). Parisian couture houses started providing their clients with private viewings of the newest trends as early as the late 19th century. Early in the 20th century, department stores and couture houses both regularly staged fashion shows with top models. In other nations, ready-to-wear designers followed the lead of Parisian couturiers and started staging fashion shows for an audience that included buyers, journalists, and private clients. The late 20th and early 21st centuries saw a rise in the complexity and theatricality of fashion shows, as well as their use of larger venues and elevated runways (“catwalks”) for the models.
Fashion shows had become a regular fixture of the fashion calendar by the early twenty-first century. The official syndicate of couture designers, which consists of the most upscale and expensive fashion houses, hosts two couture shows a year in Paris (in January and July). These shows feature clothing that might be ordered by potential customers but are frequently more intended to display the designers’ opinions on current fashion trends and brand image. During spring and fall “Fashion Weeks,” the most significant of which are held in Paris, Milan, New York, and London, ready-to-wear fashion shows are held, showcasing both men’s and women’s clothing separately. On the other hand, there are dozens of other fashion weeks worldwide, from Tokyo to So Paolo.