The Fall 2002 New York shows are over. IMG, in the name of making money, took all of the spirit and much of the joy out of this season’s shows. They charged everyone more but gave less. Part of what made fashion week was the buzz created by people that surrounded the shows. IMG cut out most of the fashion press and buyers from sharing a very important part of fashion week. By pushing people out the door as soon as possibe, by not offering them a place to rest, to sit, to reestablish relationships, to gossip, to meet new people, and to have a relaxed conversation about what they saw and what they would be seeing, IMG provided the worst form of corporate environments. IMG just does not understand or care about the nature of our industry. It would be easy to blame Fern Mallis, after all she has been running the shows for years, but she is now just another employee of a private, profit making organization that adheres to a bottom line. Their stake in our industry is limited to just how much money they can squeeze from designers and sponsors.
Some of IMG’s missteps this season included: no place to sit or hang out between shows and limited amenities (since there was no reason for people to stay some sponsors were overheard complaining that their was little or no traffic to their areas). And after sending a letter out informing the $30 registrants that no goody bags would be made available, in fact, goody bags were sent out to a select group of people by personal messenger. This action alone created a great deal of animosity and a lot of people wanted to know just what the $30 free for registering was for. We have heard from many that they do not see any point in registering next season. And let’s not forget about all of the people who had their checks returned to them at the beginning of the season because they were not considered important enough even to be members of this $30 select group who got nothing for their money except for the “honor” of appearing on a list that served little purpose. IMG did nothing, absolutely nothing, to encourage the industry to look to the future with optimism. If you were not there Friday morning for the opening of Fashion week with the Mayor, there was no other planned formal reception of any kind to attend or participate in.
After September 11th, it is even more important that our industry’s semi-annual fashion shows becomes more inclusive, more exciting and still first and foremost in the interests of our industry. The current IMG produced version is targeted mainly at a national audience. The MTV’ing of the shows, to make them another mass entertainment vehicle like the Oscars or VH1 Fashion Awards, is in line with IMG’s core business – to promote their clients’ interests. But IMG interests and those of our industry may not be the same. IMG owns 7thonSixth but are we just there to be players on their stage? Does IMG success come on the backs of our industry? At the rate it is going, most of us in the industry should just stay home and watch the shows on television. Maybe that is just what IMG wants.