As the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”. But New York Fashion Week (9/7- 9/14) IS broke and definitely in need of some fixing. And it has been for quite some time. Back in September 2013, everyone from the late Oscar de la Renta to Diane von Furstenberg was prompted to speak out, and Fern Mallis, who is responsible for having turned the shows into a “wildly successfully marketing and media event” in the first place, went on record at that time saying, “Fashion Week needs to be rethought”.
Eric Wilson, who was then at the New York Times, summed up the plight of Fashion Week with his article, “Is Fashion Week Near the End of the Runway?” which ran in Thursday’s Styles, September 5th. He observed that Fashion Week is losing its “relevance”; intimating that designer shows may one day be obsolete; and he reiterated that the move to Lincoln Center was commonly viewed as a failure. In my blog, “Stop the (Fashion) World – I want to get Off!” I spoke about how it was beginning to feel more and more like a trade show or airport terminal with most of the REAL fashion moments happening off site (way off site in some cases) and I also mentioned the unwieldy crowds and the overloaded schedule.
Fast forward to July 2017. There continue to be ongoing complaints about an overly crowded fashion calendar, illogical scheduling of shows (hard to get to locations, multiple shows scheduled at the same time), too many formal runway shows that should never take place, too many show attendees who are not fashion professionals but are simply there for the social media aspect. And then there are the designer exiles. On July 12th, when Joseph Altuzarra confirmed that he would leave New York and show in Paris, he became the latest designer to make the change. He follows on the heels of Rodarte, Proenza Schouler and Thom Browne: heavy hitters all, and the ones who have undeniably provided the artistic highlights of NYFW. (FYI, I actually ‘called’ it about one week before). This prompted WWD’s Executive Editor, Bridget Foley to pen an article in her Diary: “The Exodus from New York”, July 13th. Among other things, she cited “a calendar overpopulated with a diminished fashion quotient”, emphasized that “just good isn’t good enough” and stated that “New York needs an overhaul, beginning with a reevaluation and articulation of its purpose”, and posed the question, “Where exactly does this leave New York?” Indeed.
So, in an effort to answer this question (or at least continue the conversation), I reached out to some seasoned fashion insiders (retailers, editors, fashion museum curators, stylists, public relations mavens, designers etc.) and asked them to weigh in with their thoughts, opinions, proposals, etc. and, regardless of whether they answered with one sentence or enough to fill one page, they all made valid points. My inspiration was the cover story of the Arts & Leisure section of the New York Times on Sunday, July 16th, “Fixing the Met: Art Lovers Speak” by Jason Farago and Sophie Haigney. In advance of the museum’s next director, with problems ranging from a nearly $15 million deficit and other challenges, the duo interviewed 20 art lovers and asked them to comment and suggest.
While a few preferred to remain anonymous (for a variety of reasons), most did not. I invited CFDA president and CEO Steven Kolb to participate in this discussion but he declined because as he put it, “This is something the CFDA will be commenting on directly at cfda.com in the near future so best my thoughts live there.”
Fashion Director and Executive VP, Neiman Marcus
Ken has long been a voice of change and concern about our industry not moving quickly enough to transform and re-invent ourselves. He was not only the most vocal, he had so much to say that he warned me that “he could write 50 page thesis on this topic”. Boy, he was not kidding. These are the highlights of our conversation:
“It’s an interesting moment we’re in. I think there is hope for NY. But there are just too many clothes and too many shows. That’s one of the detriments to the New York calendar. I appreciate social media, I am not anti-social media, but we have yet managed to harness the positive power of social media and we have let social media get the best of our industry without us getting the best of IT! NYFW has become a social media frenzy with a crowded calendar. The circus seemingly has become more important than the business. While some of the venues are at times getting a little smaller, there are still these enormous venues filled with 800-1200 people and you look around at the fashion show while you’re waiting for 35-45 minutes for it to begin, and you’re asking yourself: “Who are these people? What is their contribution to the industry?
Part of the problem is that the media is so hungry to grab a headline that often, we’re talking about talent that may not be worthy of the chatter it’s getting. I’m not talking about the need for commercial clothes because the customer is not responding to overly commercial or commodity goods at the moment. What they really want is rarity, something designed and something special. They don’t want something peculiar, but they are not looking for just another dress. I feel that we are too busy in our industry propping up people who may not be ready to be propped. There are too many people racing to the runway looking to get press, looking for imagery hoping it will improve their social footprint, but many people showing, especially here in New York are not ready for prime time.
This crowded calendar is harming the really talented people (those who are established or hoping to become established) which is why we are seeing some brands leaving New York to show elsewhere or showing at another time. There is a reality to the overexposure that nobody wants to address in our industry, which I have talked about for two years. There’s too much imagery being hurled into the universe, of clothes that don’t appear in stores for 6 months. Too many clothes don’t get produced and never see the light of day, yet the images of these clothes are EVERYWHERE, so the expectation in the customer’s mind is that these clothes exist. It’s frustrating for the customer when they can’t get something they have seen all over the place. We are tantalizing the customer with imagery.
Showing clothes in season is a smarter business model than thinking the customer will wait for 6 months for something they’ve seen. It takes about 17 seconds to hold a customer’s interest on the phone. We at Neiman Marcus have had very strong success with collections that show ‘see now buy now’ (Tom Ford, Alice & Olivia, Rebecca Minkoff among them). We have seen success with Ralph Lauren and Burberry. There are too many people who are naysayers about why it can’t work as opposed to taking a bold step forward and figuring out whatever the recipe is for their particular brand to do something similar that will work because technology is not going away. There are too many designs that the customer cannot have or by the time they arrive, they have lost interest and have already moved on from what they’ve seen on their phone. Technology is not going away and the customer’s ability to retain all of this will be less and less. The genie is out of the bottle. That’s just the way it works.
Now that fashion shows are live streamed, I don’t have to sit at every fashion show. I can sit at the back of a taxi and watch a show live streaming as I am on the way to an appointment. I will say this to you and probably won’t get another ticket to a show (lol). Would I like to be at every show and do I love to support new talent? Of course, but in the world today, you can’t be everywhere and you have to prioritize. We are all working harder, doing more with fewer people around us. That’s the reality of fashion globally today. The global retail world continues to be challenging. Suffering retail is not just in the U.S. It’s global.
As for Hudson Yards…I actually think the centralization is exciting. We as an industry prize quality, production, good environment for laborers, etc. and yet we all sit in taxis for hours going back and forth to the shows at the moment. Keeping things centrally located makes sense and we would all get more accomplished, rather than spending so much time trying to get from place to place, which is what we do now.
I’m a big supporter of NYFW because it’s an important market with important brands. But I have thought for a long time that the calendar is just too crowded. There are just too many shows on that calendar. And they begin to become a blur. And sadly, anyone with the wherewithal to produce a show and a few models can show here in New York. That’s the great thing about it. But if you look at the calendar, there are two or three shows within a single time period. How is that benefiting anyone? A calendar less crowded would make New York feel stronger. If we head toward The Shed in Hudson Yards, that would be a huge plus for the market. And if we can figure out the right recipe for showing clothes in season we could be global leaders, because that’s how the customer is shopping; nobody is planning a wardrobe 6 months in advance anymore.
I have long been an advocate of presentations. I love presentations. Fashion Week should start on Saturday or Sunday and we should find a 6 block radius (like the Chelsea gallery area) and have young emerging brands (that are not ready for formal fashion shows), stage presentations. It should be a centrally located gallery walk on Saturday or Sunday. Retailers, press, social media could all spend time in one neighborhood going from one presentation to another. We can see what these new talents are offering and then we can head off to a calendar of fashion shows. I’ve often thought that Monday should be in one part of the city, Tuesday another part of the city. Break it up. Monday morning is downtown. Monday afternoon is uptown, etc. After 7 p.m. if you want to show on the moon go with NASA it is fine with me. If you want to show in Brooklyn try to keep it centrally located so that we are all maximizing our time and maximizing our ability to see brands as opposed to being stuck in traffic. There has to be a logical approach to the calendar and scheduling. It’s chaos now.
We have been very much the leader when it comes to diversity on the runway. It’s the one thing I’m most proud of about the fashion industry: multiple colors of faces, ethnicities,religions, body types. We are breaking the body type barrier, which is too long time in coming. New York has been very proactive in putting a global face onto the catwalk and we need to be that proactive vis-a-vis how we’re showing and how we’re organizing the calendar. We need to look like we really have it together because sometimes it’s just “catch as catch can” with that calendar, the way it’s put together. Right now it is a calendar of chaos!
“It takes Yankee ingenuity to get things done but this is a major industry in our country and our city and it needs to be tightened. It will benefit everyone: the press, the retailers, the brands. We need a retooling and a transformation. I feel that too many people in the industry do not want to hear that we need a retooling. We can’t turn our back on the reality that fashion as an industry and business is in turmoil and in transformation, and we can be the leaders. We can use social media as a benefit as opposed to a distraction which it has become at every fashion show. The crowd of street style seekers in front of the shows has become insanity. And the number of people sitting at shows who are there for no other reason than to get a hit for social media, while having nothing to do with the industry, is insanity. We need to be an industry that understands that it’s as important to give back as it is to take and I feel that many are taking but not giving back. We are only strong as an industry, when we give back.”
She served as Executive Director of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1991–2001, and created 7th on Sixth productions or New York Fashion Week as it is known today. She was also senior vice president of IMG Fashion from 2001 to 2010. Mallis is currently president of her own international fashion and design consultancy, Fern Mallis LLC:
“It’s a new world now in fashion and everywhere. We can’t go back, Fashion Week has moved on. We need to be smarter and use the enormous advances in technology to communicate better and provide more information. I believe there is terrific talent in NY and there is great support here for nurturing, mentoring and supporting new talent. However NYFW seems to still live or die by a handful of well known and loved designers (brands). The week should be re-positioned to celebrate and encourage the new…the future.
There are too many shows. CFDA and IMG need to work together. There needs to be more perks, reasons and benefits for coming to NYFW. Our Mayor needs to address many of the reasons everyone (beyond fashion designers) is decamping from NY, from the high rents to the absurd traffic trying to get around the city. The calendar should offer more comprehensive information about who is showing, so people can make more informed decisions about who to see. There needs to be more group shows of edited collections. There are a host of other ideas and opportunities to explore, but these are the ones that come to mind first”.
Award Winning Fashion Designer and President of the Council of Fashion Designers of America from 1991 to 2006:
“Some thoughts…I still believe we are the incubator for young designers. Even though we became the celebrity driven fashion stop-off. This kind of turbulence, if used well, can strengthen the business if we learn from it. It is not time to be defensive, the spark only lasts so long’ but it can come back since things tend to be cyclical. When we started the tents, the groundswell was a natural outgrowth of our need to compete on a global level. As we got bigger, the celebrity started to command more attention than the clothes.
It’s a given that once anointed, most designers seek more exclusivity, while not giving up the power of the press. The chessboard has changed – it was once unheard of for an American designer to compete in Europe, I believe the shows made that possible. Maybe there has been too much exposure, too much buzz- and not enough focus on the clothes.I believe America is now an important part of the global fabric of fashion – There is no going back, we need to support it, and focus on the content”.
Fashion Designer and Author:
“There are several things to consider as it regards a revamping of New York Fashion Week:
1) Who should show. So many young designers feel that they must have a show. This puts undue pressure on what is generally a very small budget of a generally under-capitalized start-up or new businesses. This should be discouraged and perhaps replaced with a seasonal showcase possibly sponsored by large organizations like the New York Times or WWD.
2) Timing. Perhaps a panel of reputable retailers and editors along with the CFDA should convene to discuss what and when would be the optimum best time to have the shows as it relates to manufacturing, press coverage, etc. Look at resort: the season that never ends !
3) Optimum Viewing. Since we are in the Digital and Viral age, why not start a cable channel devoted to fashion, where ALL shows , regardless to city of origin would be available to subscribers worldwide instantaneously, and could be replayed at will. Designer commentary and behind the scenes footage could be added at a later date. Why not take advantage at what many designers are doing already?
4) Hudson Yards. This long planned venue can’t come soon enough. It’s important to include as many factions who would benefit from this venue in the planning of it. Designers, Editors, Stylists, Model Agencies, Make-up Artists and Hairdressers, Press, Buyers, etc, should all be involved. It’s important that taxi services, and food providers also be consulted. We have the unique opportunity to make this a world class venue. Let’s not blow it. Of course, designers cannot be made to use this, but if we make this venue so convenient and attractive, it just might be alluring to all.”
Creative Director, Fashion Group International & Syndicated columnist:
“I’m a big believer that “If You Build It, They Will Come”. To build/rebuild NYFW we need to focus on creativity versus commerciality. We need the renewal of the brand, as in the Raf Simons, Gvasalias, the Micheles, the Vaccarellos, We need designers to knock our socks off, not to keep their stocks on. And I question whether Hudson Yards — some say that’s two to three years off — is an answer to rejuvenating New York. Historically, every time a city builds a central location for the shows, “the biggies” filter off, finding their own venues. For press and buyers having a central venue would be great, saving time and money, but not if creative spirits wander off.
I’m all for democracy and if you want to have a show, have it (I don’t have to go), but I believe the Chambre Syndicale is correct in limiting the official schedule. And I firmly believe that the CFDA, like its counterparts in London, Milan and Paris, should provide accredited press and buyers with busses to the shows on their official schedule — especially now that the shows are sooo spread out. Not everyone has a limo or a free ride from Mercedes Benz. Not everyone gets paid transportation, et al — to attend the shows.”
Founder of Kaleidoscope Consulting who represents (among her other clients) designer Thom Browne:
“NY, London, Milan and Paris fashion weeks each has its own system and rules based on its respective history with fashion and culture. There may seem to be a lot of moves to and from NY fashion week recently, but that could simply be due to individual designers’ situations, goals and priorities, not a reflection on NY Fashion Week itself. As with any fashion week, there may be points of contention brought on by participants and observers regarding NY Fashion week, however, the CFDA, whose takeover of the calendar is relatively recent, has implemented many changes to ameliorate those points, and I assume, will continue to do so.
Historically, where, in which city, you showed your collection defined the type of designer you were, but over time this has evolved. A proud feature of NY Fashion Week is its democratic nature, rooted in sportswear. The history of designing clothes in France dates back for centuries. Their descendants were sought after by kings and queens from around the world. Paris remains to be the place where innovation is most encouraged. But Paris fashion week is monitored by the Federation, which is linked to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, and is highly regulated. New York fashion week is not like that. It promotes freedom and exploration. The ultimate question is how to maintain its democratic history and mission while transitioning with the times to remain relevant. That may be a question not just for New York fashion week, but also for the host country at large.”
“There is nothing wrong with NYFW. The challenge comes from the changes to the speed and manner of how we communicate and disseminate information today. The upheaval is from vying for the most attention under these challenging changing times.”
Dr. Valerie Steele
Director & Chief Curator of The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology:
“Now that several of the most talented American designers have opted out of New York Fashion Week, choosing to show in Paris instead, journalists are starting to ask “Why?” Presumably the answers are different for each designer, but there is no question that complaints about New York have been growing within the fashion community. New York Fashion Week is very crowded and a lot of the shows are more commercial than creative. There is no quick fix for that, unfortunately. Paris has been the capital of fashion for more than 300 years and its reputation continues to attract creative designers from around the world. Creativity flourishes in New York, too, and we need to focus more on that”.
Publicist for a Leading American Fashion Designer:
“I have to say that I think the CFDA has been pretty much leaderless in that all that is done is the once a year Awards Gala for which they sell tables at exorbitant prices to pay their surely overblown salaries and at this event, the nominated people are all the same usual recycled suspects because that is the way their game goes . . . this is an atrocity for young and emerging designers who need all the support they can get from ‘The Industry’ (as I type these words, I feel angry and sad).
To restore creativity we have to collectively start down a difficult path, that is, that creative people, wildly or not, must have it drilled into their brains to ALWAYS steer clear of money that comes from Wall Street types because I have seen first-hand the disastrous effects of this always atrociously bad marriage of minds. I cannot stress enough the need to support the people coming up financially and with some kind of mentoring . . . I say this knowing that established designers have never seemed very available to help the younger, emerging people . . . I hate that ‘every man for himself’ mentality and pray it ends everywhere not just in the fashion industry.
A REAL fund should be created which would lend money to emerging designers who have no means to begin a business . . . in today’s reality, how can anyone hope to make strides in such an expensive industry . Retail — yes, it’s dying and I think there are two main reasons for this: 1) market saturation; and, 2) the internet . . . the ONLY way for retail to survive in any fashion is for buyers and stores to go out on a big limb and start purchasing from emerging designers so that new talent, ideas and products can be showcased . . . none of the bigger names will ever make money for any of the stores again because there are too many points-of-sale for those names; whereas emerging designers have no opportunity at all to market their collections beyond word-of-mouth which means almost not at all . . . I really strongly believe that this is the ONLY way for retail to survive.”
Style and Fashion News Director at the Hollywood Reporter:
“I have a book coming out in February with the CFDA, titled “American Runway: 75 Years of Fashion and the Front Row” which is all about the history of fashion shows in New York. I don’t necessarily think we are in crisis, but more in an evolution. Fashion week is catching up with technology and globalism and becoming more of a movable feast. The challenges of the business, and consumers’ attention spans, demand that designers continue to dazzle and surprise us, and one of the ways that can be achieved is by pulling up stakes and moving somewhere else for a season or two or longer. New York is still a compelling market for the reasons it has always been — sportswear and a pragmatic point of view. I’m looking forward in particular to seeing shows from Calvin Klein, Monse and Oscar de la Renta, Marc Jacobs, Tory Burch, Jonathan Saunders by DVF, Tom Ford and Kanye West. And no matter where designers decide to show, they are still representing the American industry, sense of possibility and open state of mind. To me, that matters more than a physical runway location.”
Sasha Morrison Charnin
Sasha has over 20 years of magazine experience working for such notable magazines as Fashion Director at US Weekly Magazine, and boasts over twenty years of fashion magazine experience working for such notable publications as Allure, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar, Mirabella, Seventeen, and Vanity Fair:
I think the whole process is dead. Everyone has lost their way. The focus needs to be back on the clothes, the news. Now it’s all as dull as dishwater. I don’t know who it’s for anymore? Buyers? Bloggers? Editors? Celebrities will only sit if they’re paid, taken care of, clothed and fed. And I don’t blame them. Also I don’t know or care who any of them are. Anyone who needs to be googled-doesn’t belong. Sorry. No one claps – they’re all on their phones posting the absolute worst images of someone else’s vision – just to be first or to make you feel like Shit because they were there-and you weren’t. But that’s another story.
New York used to end the cycle giving the entire month closure. The people who had tantrums about New York opening the week, are no longer personally showing. Helmut Lang, Calvin Klein, Donna Karan… the budgets are insane. And like all great things – the old process needs to come to an end.
Go back to the old days. Smaller, more intimate presentations. And while they’re hiring all these “genius” production people who the designers pay-ask them to come up with the new way. They’re hammering out the same old, same old. There are only so many different ways you can reinvent a wall of roses and peonies that spell “Love”. What’s so fabulous about overseas is there are venues that are so old and crumbled and historic, there’s not much you really need to do. Focus! You can see how Rodarte belongs there! Or that they felt so re-energized. Going to an old warehouse in Brooklyn is about as exciting as farting. Seriously.
I miss seeing people I knew. They’re all gone. Laid off or bored. Going to shows is as exciting now as flying. And that attitude about it absolutely sucks. It should be the most exciting week of my life. We need that back. Everything in life is a change, a new way. We need that desperately. There are so many talented people out there who can actually make this happen – but it needs to be the new breed. And we should also be teaching and instructing the new people. Fashion needs to be more than just Vetements Juicy Track Suits… and Champion hoodies. Production, management, etc. We need schools and training from people like KCD, and PR Consulting. Come on, people. This makes me think I should open a school just called OTHER because there’s just got to be more to keep this business thriving and in NYC. Fashion is the most exciting and glamorous business in the world. It has always been and will always be my first love and many others feel that way, as well. Sometimes we all need a swift kick in the ass. Let’s stop complaining and DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT”.
Owner, Paul Wilmot Communications:
“The glamour and mystique of the fashion business in general has always been around fashion shows. Minimal shows are news, over the top shows are news, the girls, the guys, the venues and of course the clothes are what people take away from these presentations and since the invention of dirt they have been the communication of the clothes to the end consumer. The contradiction has been in recent times that the shows that feature clothes not available for six months receive so much media attention and the consumer cannot buy them or maybe even remember what they look like when the clothes are finally online and in the stores. So enter the buy now wear now concept which is okay in some cases but not the silver bullet everyone thought it might be…sort of bloodless to my way of thinking.
The solution is that maybe there is no solution. Possibly each brand should do what they feel is right for them. Haute couture looks great in a grand venue with all the flourishes one can bring to it. Jeans should not be in a fashion show but would look great in a video pushed out through social media. Contemporary sportswear? Do whatever the hell you want as long as the way it is featured is appropriate. In the end fashion is boring left alone on a hanger or folded in a store but fashion shows are not the end game. They are a means to an end and that end has to be to sell clothes and enhance the image of the brand. If one accepts that credo then you can do whatever you like…go to Paris, stay in New York or do it in an airplane hangar as Karl did”.
“I really don’t know what the panic is about. People move around but then they always come back to New York. I doubt that this is a permanent move for anyone. Also plenty of international designers show here. There are so many shows here that having a few less really doesn’t make a difference. I am sad that Clarkson will no longer be available because that was a great venue. I felt the previous venues were very commercial so I hope they can find interesting spaces going forward. So things are definitely in a state of flux for multiple reasons but I am sure New York will remain a very important fashion week”.
“Fashion is about change. I think that designers should feel free to pursue the way they communicate without parameters and borders. I believe that people are looking to designers to express what is unique to their brand.”
Group Vice President, Fashion Director/Global Forecaster, Macy’s Inc:
“In the last few seasons New York has been too much all over the place making it hard to get from one area to the other. Make it more geographically logical, more centralized. Provide buses for people with invitations only (the way it was done at Bryant Park was perfect). Not everyone has a limo. Don’t start the show until the buses arrive.
Some designers, especially the new young generation of designers should just do a ‘static’ presentation rather than stage a formal fashion show. It would be much more beneficial: it’s quicker than a show, easier to see the clothes, and you get the full impact, and they would have more people coming to see them.
Make NYFW more global to bring it to a more international level. Fashion is really international today and becoming more so. NY should start inviting people from other countries to show here like the French do. Retailers from Europe are coming here anyway. American designers want to show in Europe? Fine. Why not then make the European designers want to come to New York as well? If Proenza Schouler can show in Paris, why can’t Jacquemus show in New York? A committee of fashion leaders, retailers and press should decide who should be offered to chance to show here and we should entice them to come.
It’s not about competing with one another; it’s about evaluating the creative energy and the inspiration and the integrity of design combined with the proper dynamic to make it work and to make it easier for the press and buyers”.
Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur:
I’d love to see fashion week return to being about the business of fashion. I miss the simplicity and elegance of the days when models walked amongst key buyers, customers and press period. If a celebrity is truly a friend of the house it makes sense for her to be there but the current practice of buying a “front row” at exorbitant prices is nuts. Even as recently as the early 2,000’s when I was doing shows, yes, I had celebrities and swans there but they were my pregnant customers.
To me, the bank busting crazy extravaganzas that today we call the shows makes zero sense. They aren’t about the clothing customers will ultimately buy in the stores (most are never even produced) they aren’t (for the most part) going to be available for months and they cost too much to produce. I still love the idea of real shows (as opposed to moving them all online) but bring back the shows of yesteryear. It’s important to remember that the business of fashion although seemingly glamorous is still a business and a frugal one at that.
Harriet Mays Powell
She is the founder of TheLookNow.com, a digital publication in which artistic videos replace the traditional magazine fashion story she also worked for six years as Fashion Director of New York magazine. Prior to that, she was at Condé Nast in London for five years, following four years as Fashion Editor of the New York Times Magazine and five years as Senior Fashion Editor of American Elle:
“The overpopulated schedule is a real problem. Being “democratic” dilutes the specialness NYFW – especially the level of design, as anyone can have a show. There is a reason Hermes makes you wait for your Birkin bag! Desire and availability/access play a role. Also the world’s luxury conglomerates – LVMH, Kering and Richemont are HQ’d in Europe, and there is no equivalent “support” for luxury fashion in the US. While PVH w/ Calvin and hiring Raf is comparable, it’s an exception, and not the norm. And we all know that Calvin’s designer business is miniscule but PVH can afford to support his “talent”. Here, the bottom line is paramount and swiftly calculated, making designers do clothes that are more commercial than creative.
Shows are by their definition a spectacle, not a showroom appointment. For the most part, New York shows lack excitement. Maybe smaller, salon like presentations akin to the old couture shows could help New York seem special. A memory of the Row showing at the Carlyle comes to mind”.
American Fashion Designer:
“I think that New York Fashion Week is a farce. Tooooooo many collections of inferior fashion. No thought, no culture, no technique, nothing but a boring re-mix of what the magazines feel was important last season. There is no individuality. There must be a screening board for what is permitted to be shown formally. I am not, and never have been a part of it, thus it is pretentious for me to comment. Also, there is NO support from the CFDA. I am not bitter, I just love my metier so much……..struggled so much, and cannot abide fools.”
33 Years plus New York Fashion Industry Insider:
“Fern and Stan brought more than tents to the park, they brought cohesiveness to the industry. Its members came together to support, encourage and bond with each other. There was strength in numbers fueled by the glamour and selectivity of the shows. It was a powerful mix – a mystique – and the industry was in control. With the sale of the shows to a IMG, a self-promoting marketing company, the industry cohesiveness and mystique become casualties to an ever growing courting of the consumer. In what were once industry based events, the consumer became the essential element. Finally, the CFDA changed personnel and direction. This left some of the fashion community feeling disenfranchised, which further eroded the power of New York Fashion Week.
It is my opinion that if New York Fashion Week is to survive and hold its own with Paris, Milan and London, it must first decide to once again stand united as a single entity. This coming together must have a mutually agreed upon purpose and direction that is beneficial to all segments of the industry. Most importantly, the leaders it chooses must be open, inclusive, fair minded and steadfast.”
40 Years plus Highly Respected Creative Director/Stylist:
“One of the problems is the New York shows are all over the place, which makes it hard especially for European editors etc. I am friendly with most of the European editors and that is one of their complaints. Especially challenging is where they should book hotels to make the shows easy to get to”.
While there are obviously no quick fixes, for the most part, almost everyone expressed optimism about the future and is in agreement with regards to the central issues that need to be dealt with: the overcrowded fashion calendar schedule; the out of the way hard to get to locations; the need for smaller presentations (rather than formal showings) by those who are not necessarily ready for prime time; “see now buy now” as a valid solution for some, not all; the inundation of people at shows who really do not belong there and are only there in order to ‘up’ their social media; the need to mentor, encourage, and nurture the next generation’s creativity and talent and give them all the financial support possible. But it’s all just talk until everyone gets together to make things happen. I hope this has been informative and has given everyone something to ‘chew’ on.
I would like to interject one last thought. From my perspective, there has been far too much emphasis placed on what’s new and what’s trending (and I blame members of the press, retailers, and bloggers). How about what’s timelessly great? I will always remember something Geoffrey Beene remarked to me. When he was asked by members of the press, “What’s new?” his retort was, “Don’t ask me what’s new, ask me what’s great!” And with the recent passing of the legendary Kenneth Jay Lane, two of his most famous quotes seem even more relevant now. As he put it,”Glamour is all year round” and “Elegance, luxury and good taste never go out of style”. Touche!