“But it’s not just about deliveries,” Ms. Karan said. “It’s also about families. It’s all part of the bigger conversation.”
Steven Kolb, the chief executive of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, agreed. “It’s definitely a big conflict in our industry,” he said. “The time commitment is enormous — it directly clashes with back to school, holidays — and that is driving big questions.”
Part of the problem, Mr. Rodriguez said, is this: “Families are not cool.”
Daniella Vitale, the chief executive of Barneys, who has two sons, said: “We are an industry obsessed with youth, image and appropriation. Kids, family and significant others never really fit into that.” They are representative of the routine, the settled, the familiar. They have no part in the myth of the obsessive creative (think Cristóbal Balenciaga, Christian Dior, Coco Chanel, even the Daniel Day-Lewis character in “Phantom Thread”). And many of those things were, for a long time, off limits to a substantial part of the fashion population: gay men.
At this point, however, social and cultural changes have significantly altered the landscape. And Mr. Rodriguez has become representative of a group of designers who are taking a different approach to the issue. They are not trying to be superpeople as much as real people. “This is a time when everyone is looking at the way they work, and changing it in different ways,” he said.
Christopher Bailey, the chief creative officer of Burberry, has two small daughters — Iris, 3½, and Nell, 2. “We’re talking about all these things more openly — gender, sexuality — and it’s about time the fashion culture changed,” he said.
Indeed, Mr. Bailey said that the desire to spend more time with his family was a factor in his decision to leave Burberry after 17 years: “Designers have to do so much today — marketing, social media, logistics — it can be quite challenging to put the brakes on and say, ‘Within all that, I’m going to prioritize my family and put as much effort an emphasis on that as on work.’”
Before he resigned, Mr. Bailey had already altered his routine. Instead of getting to the office at 6 or 7 a.m., he arrived two hours later; he was rigorous about going out only once a week and never spending a weekend away. Even so, he decided he wanted a bigger change. Similarly, Tom Ford has talked about how having a son has prompted him to reshape his working life.
In fact, Mr. Kolb said, one of the attractive side effects of the current discussion about New York designers moving from the traditional ready-to-wear schedule, with shows taking place in September and February, to the pre-collection schedule of January and July, is that it will leave August open for normal life.
“It’s about a business model,” Mr. Kolb said. “But a big part of the motivation is also balance.”
When Mr. Rodriguez’s children were born (Ivy’s brother is Callum Thomas), he took three months off. This may not sound surprising, but when Phoebe Philo had her first child, in 2007, she was believed to be the first designer at the top of a major global brand (Chloé) to take an official maternity leave since fashion became a global industry. (She was followed by Sarah Burton of Alexander McQueen.)
It was a marked departure from the past, when, said Diane von Furstenberg, who raised two children at the same time as her namesake line, “I used to joke the business was their third sibling.”
Then, when Mr. Rodriguez returned to work just in time for his show in September, he gave up his usual 8 p.m. Tuesday night slot and held small presentations during the workday instead. “I realized what was important to me was having people here to see what we do up close, to focus on the nuance of material and cut, or what can’t be seen on Instagram,” he said.
He has also scaled back his time in the office to three or at most four days a week. He and his husband, Thomas Tolan, live in their country house in Westchester County (they are expanding their New York apartment to make it more child-friendly) and commute to the city. They have a nanny who works four days a week, but she does not live with them.
“I have learned to edit,” Mr. Rodriguez said. “To be more precise with my fittings, delegate more to my team, and to be tougher with my own schedule.” He thinks the discipline has made his collections better.
To be fair, he has more ability to rethink his days than many other designers might: He is the sole owner of his business, and, thanks to a highly successful perfume license started 16 years ago, he has had a steady income no matter what is happening in the ready-to-wear market. It gives him a certain leeway in his decision making. To acknowledge, for example, that “things have changed.”
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