As Fall/Winter 2015 draws to a close, so too does another chapter in the century-old story of New York fashion. The eviction from Lincoln Center, IMG's acquisition of MADE, and the the bequeathal of the fashion calendar to the CFDA (not to mention Mercedes Benz exiting as title sponsor) are, for the most part, superficial changes; however, they couldn't have come at a more existentially fraught moment.
For the last 70 years, the exercise of gathering editors and retailers in a room to preview new collections has been perfectly logical – and fun. But in recent years there has been a tectonic shift in the way fashion is both created and consumed. Everything from fast fashion to capsule collections to live streaming to live tweeting is chipping away at the relevance of the fashion show. "We live in what appears to be a post-trend fashion world — with no clear guidelines for our sartorial choices and an endless array of options," T Magazine wrote on Sunday. "New shows and collections seem to be springing up constantly throughout the year, consumed hungrily and instantaneously around the world on a variety of platforms before the editors have even filed out the doors."
So, what now? What next? Don't you worry, come this fall, we'll still be hosting our little slice of the maelstrom at The Standard, High Line, but we're still wondering: does all this still make sense? Below, we've listed five reasons it doesn't and five it absolutely does – the truth probably chilling somewhere in the middle.
A Quick History of Fashion Week in New York:
NYFW = #Dinosaur
1) “Fast fashion” is really bleeping fast. Zara, H&M, Uniqlo, Top Shop, J. Crew, Club Monaco, shall we go on? They re-interpret the ideas shown at fashion week and have them on the racks months before traditional designers.
2) What's a season? People from every corner and climate are consuming fashion all year long while popping around the globe via Jet Blue and AirBNB. A far cry from the old days when it was just the society ladies looping through Manhattan, the Hamptons and Palm Beach.
3) Too much swag. Sundance, Art Basel, SXSW, it's the same story. Everyone tries to get in on the action and much like mixing sodas, it ends up just nasty.
4) For buyers, it's redundant. They all go to the showrooms to see the clothes in person anyway, so why bother? Besides, no one buys 50 grand worth of sweaters because they loved the song playing at the runway show.
5) Disrupters gonna disrupt. Companies like Net-à-Porter are completely changing the game. Instead of waiting around for Fashion Week to see what designers are making, they go straight to the source and commission "capsule" collections that sell exclusively online and market through their own 300-page glossy. For designers this means they make and sell their entire collection in one go instead of wasting time and money on designs that will never be produced, much less bought.
The purpose may have evolved, but Fashion Week is still a vital part of the game:
1) "It's not the steak that sells; it's the sizzle..." as the old advertising adage goes, and nothing sizzles like 50 gorgeous models, theatrical lighting, the celeb-du-jour front row, and a thumping soundtrack.
2) Networking, duh. Fashion needs a Fashion Week just as dentists need a Dental Week (or whatever they call it). All industries benefit from gathering together and sharing ideas, business cards, and a glass (or ten) of champagne.
3) Marketing, duh. It's a major global marketing moment virtually impossible to manufacture independently without seriously deep pockets. Everything from the guest list to the time slot to the tweets – and oh yeah, the reviews – communicate and position the brand to industry and consumers alike and gets up-and-comers in front of all the right people.
4) Designers need the time to produce what they've shown on the runway. That six month lag time might be inconvenient for impatient consumers, but one hopes that boutique operations are still making things worth the wait.
5) It's part of the rhythm and economy of the city. Identity crisis or not, it remains a big friggin' deal. From hotels to catering companies to the zillion-and-one ancillary products who use it as a platform for exposure. Even if you've never been to a show, a party, or paused on a single 'gram, it still seeps into the frenetic ether of the city that never sleeps, yet still manages to look fabulous.