When Do the Winter and Fall Seasons Start in Fashion?

By Dana Poblete

Fall and winter collections may start rolling into stores by July, and spring and summer clothes trickle in before the snow even melts. No wonder it's a bit confusing when exactly the fall season starts. Add in designers' presentations of smaller collections like resort in between, and the fashion calendar seems like information for insiders only.

female hands over the sweater (soft focus)
credit: LiudmylaSupynska/iStock/GettyImages
Cozy autumn sweater

Fashion Calendar

The fashion industry traditionally works in two distinct seasons. Spring/summer refers to the six-month period from January through June, and fall/winter refers to the months from July through December. However, individual designers or stores may choose to operate using slightly different months or timing.

Fashion Week

Fashion Week occurs twice a year, when designers and brands preview their new collections in a weeklong series of fashion shows. The most publicized American fashion week takes place New York City. Fall clothing is shown in February, and Spring is shown in September. Fashion Week attracts publicity for the fashion industry, and retailers also get to view designers' latest collections and begin buying next season's merchandise.

Fall

Fall fashion typically hits stores by July, in time for back-to-school shopping. Spring and summer merchandise usually goes on permanent sale at this point. Fall clothing often boasts earthy or jewel-tone color palettes (depending on the trends), long sleeves, heavier fabrics, and light outerwear. Retailers may offer weather-appropriate merchandise in stores located in warmer climates.

Winter and Holiday

The winter and holiday shopping season during Thanksgiving and Christmas is important since people are buying a lot. Winter and holiday clothing usually arrives in stores from late October to early November and carries through the rest of the calendar year. Regardless of fashion trends, velvet fabrics, embellished clothing, heavy outerwear, and party dresses usually fill the stores.

Seasonless Dressing

"Seasonless dressing" describes a trend of wearing the same fashions year-round. People spend more time in climate-controlled environments these days. Air-conditioned and heated cars and work spaces equal less time in natural temperatures, so there's less demand for heavy winter clothing. Fall and winter clothing may appear and feel less autumnal—designers might show lighter fabrics and lighter colors. In some places, summer clothing has become more acceptable as year-round clothing—warm-weather dresses can be adapted for fall by layering turtlenecks and tights underneath.