The American fashion scene had a rough start in 2015 with both Mercedes-Benz and the Lincoln Center parting ways with New York Fashion Week.
In early January, Lincoln Center was first to leave the catwalk due to a lease violation. After hosting the event for four years, the iconic Manhattan venue announced that FW15 would be the last season shown at the Uptown location. A few days later, NYFW – formerly known as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week – also lost its major sponsor of eight years. Without a venue and a main sponsorship, the most prominent fashion event in America is now left naked.
By Elisabeth Labelle
Established in 1993, the NYFW has come a long way since the temporary tents in Bryant Park. Only a few years ago, the biannual fashion event looked far from the bold circus it became in front of the Lincoln Center. Melodie Jeng, street style photographer and founder of “The NYC Streets” blog, first wandered outside a fashion show in 2008. “I just took a few snapshots for myself. It was fun though! There were small groups of people.”
However, the stylish crowd has changed since her first encounter with NYFW. Back then, only a few bloggers – or “peacock type of people” – ventured onto this fashionable ground. Community Manager Ashley Sivil agreed with Jeng, as she based her master’s degree from Ryerson University on the rise of these fashion bloggers. “It was more about people dressing up in almost a costume-like fashion, waiting to be seen and photographed outside more than anything else.”
“Back then, only a few bloggers – or “peacock type of people” – ventured onto this fashionable ground.”
Perhaps the late turmoil in New York City is sign of a shift in the fashion industry. Only a few years ago, runway shows were limited to influential editors and important buyers. Then, venues opened their doors to bloggers and filled their front rows with these influential content generators. Therefore, Chantal Durivage thinks that we should engage conversation with consumers as they are now the ultimate authority in this social media era. The co-president of Groupe Sensation Mode – the organization behind the Montreal Fashion & Design Festival – added that e-commerce was a game-changer. “Today, the consumer wants to buy what is offered to him on the catwalk right away.”
In the midst of uncertainty, even fashion insiders have a hard time figuring out what awaits for NYFW. According to Jeng, the organization will have many challenges to overcome in order to thrive. Indeed, many brands now prefer to show their collections in galleries and event spaces around the city. The American photographer also noticed that Milk Studios’ MADE Fashion Week is growing. As a matter of fact, IMG – the management company affiliated with NYFW – has recently acquired this young rival.
Aside from direct competition, Sivil also attributed the recent downfall of fashion weeks to the increasing popularity of digital lookbooks and ad hoc events. As for Durivage, she remained optimistic about NYFW’s metamorphosis and predicted that SS16 runway shows will be a step ahead of trends. “Great changes will certainly give room to great ideas!”