New York Fashion week wrapped up on Wednesday — and this year was disrupted by some significant changes that rocked the long-running experience's status quo. Firstly, many designers, including Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, Altuzarra, and Thom Browne, chose to skip the New York event altogether, instead focusing on preparation for Paris Fashion Week in February 2018. Of those who did show this year, many skipped the traditional tents of Bryant Park. Alexander Wang took his Wang Fest collection to the literal streets of Soho and Bushwick and Ralph Lauren showed 46 miles outside of the city at his home in Bedford, NY.
In February 2016, fashion houses Burberry and Tom Ford led the charge to the see-now-buy-now selling model, in which designers showcase fashions for the current season in their runway collections, instead of next season, and make everything for sale immediately. Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger quickly followed suit, agreeing that showing a collection that isn't available to consumers for at least four months is an outdated business model. Beyond a marketing tool, the trend was designed to address the issue of seasonality faced by retailers. Last year, Neiman Marcus bought from Rebecca Minkoff, Burberry, Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren's see-now, buy-now collections, putting the clothes directly into their showrooms post-Fashion Week.
However, not many more brands jumped on board. While Lauren and Hilfiger stated that they did see increased sales, there is little to no evidence to support their claims, as neither have gone public with detailed numbers that show spiked sales from shoppable fashion week shows.
See-now-buy-now was less prevalent at this year's NYFW with only a handful of designers continuing the trend. Though those that did are some of the biggest designers in the game — Rebecca Minkoff held her Sept. 9 show at her store in Soho and immediately after opened the boutique to consumers, who shopped the collection and met fashion influencers; Mansur Gavriel's coats and knitwear were ready for fall sales; and Ralph Lauren's upstate, automobile extravaganza featured shoppable looks for both men and women. However, Tom Ford, a evangelist for the see-now-buy-now gospel in 2016, ditched it this season.
While it is a creative and experimental way to make sales while collections are still top of mind for consumers, the trend makes designers nervous. Ready-to-wear collections need time post-Fashion Week for edits and modifications based on industry feedback. If a collection bombed, they can still implement changes before hitting the market.
Even with less instant-shopping opportunities, NYFW 2017 embraced additional experiential models, including:
- Highlighting fashion as an artistic medium: Alice + Olivia orchestrated a multi-room fashion experience that showcased a collection of dresses and party-ready separates. Inspired by the Chelsea Hotel and all its creative occupants, the designers enlisted the talents of nine female artists to create, or loan existing pieces, to eight distinct spaces that served as the backdrop of the line
- Getting philanthropic: Instead of presenting their Spring 2018 collection, Rag & Bone held private appointments for press and released a charitable photo project to the public. The photo project features a series of self-portraits from Carolyn Murphy, Selah Marley, and Georgia Fowler, among other. Each subject selected a charity to sponsor in their series and, as a result, over 20 organizations will receive donations including the Lupus Foundation of America, Earth Justice, Open Door Foundation, and Oceana
- Immersing guests into the studio: In September 2016, designer Derek Lam kicked off the immersion trend by presenting his collection in a casual, intimate setting where guests sat on large, plush sofas instead of the usual cold folding chairs. This season Narciso Rodriguez and Marcus Wainwright are both showing their collections straight from their NYC studios
- Or taking them to a unique location: Tory Burch showed her collection at the Cooper Hewitt museum on 91st Street. Eric Schlosberg and Dennis Basso both showed at the Plaza Hotel and Gabriela Hearst took over the Pool Room of the Four Seasons on 57th Street
Photo courtesy: Pexels