Fashion followers and fans fall away upon New York this week for displays by designers – from jumpy newcomers to effective veterans – who say, in spite of its faults, Fashion Week is important to dress success.
The semi-annual fashion binge has confronted a growing refrain of criticism over its role and consequence in the industry, yet thousands of designers, stylists, editors and photographers make the walk to runways in New York to reveal, measure and promote the newest looks.
“Fashion Week has become this massive, massive thing, and it’s outgrown its traditional boundaries,” said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle magazine. “It’s a question of how it’s going to manage its growth at this point.”
Fashion Week years ago accumulated a small set of cherished shows earmarked for top store buyers and fashion editors. It has progressed into an awkward outspread of hundreds of shows, some by designers appropriating the job title with little more than boldness and a trust fund, critics say.
“One thing I hear again and again is just how overwhelming Fashion Week has become,” said Abby Schreiber, an associate editor who covers fashion at Paper magazine.
“The number of people interested in Fashion Week has ballooned,” she said. “It’s not as exclusive anymore.”
Some buyers now wait to see groups in confidence, leaving seats at the shows to be filled by fashion school interns, reality television show stars and just about known celebrities.
Customers in the meantime shop online, taking up-to-the-minute tips from fashion bloggers and not waiting for sagacious advice from glossy style magazines or impressive store exhibitions still months away.
On the other hand, the dizzying array of back-to-back fashion shows crossways the city gives designers an unparalleled platform, said Jay Godfrey, a designer viewing in New York this season for the first time.
“You’ve got bloggers from Japan and India and fashion street-style photographers from Russia. You’re exposed to the entire world by showing at New York Fashion Week,” he said.
Adding to that broad exposure is the immediacy of social media, he said.
“We can show during New York Fashion Week at 1:30 p.m. on February 6 and by 1:31 p.m. on February 6, those images are in the most far-flung places you can imagine.”
New York City, more than other fashion meccas of the world, encourages such new designers, due in huge part to being both a fashion capital and a media capital, said Wilson.
“For young designers right now, anyone looking to make a mark, this is the place with the biggest bullhorn to make a debut,” he said.
Sheila Aimette, vice president of North American content at fashion trend prognosticator WGSN, said the city’s ingenuousness and reputation as a soppy pot offer unparalleled chance to designers.
“No one embraces new design talent like New York,” Aimette said. “There is that connotation of ‘If you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere.'”
At the core of New York Fashion Week are giant tents set up at Lincoln Center, where most of the expressions are obtainable.
That central display cabinet has been restructured this season to address needs of designers seeking smaller show spaces, said Jarrad Clark, vice president and international creative director for IMG, which organizes and foodstuffs the tent shows with Mercedes-Benz as official sponsor.
“Designers really wanted to bring the size and scale of the showrooms down,” Clark said. “Emerging designers have a place in our tents now.”
Even well-established designers are scaling back, Schreiber said.
“The designers are looking at who really needs to be here,” she said. “So many sites are pumping out runway shots that you really don’t need to be there to see the clothes quickly.”
Clark said some 2,500 members of the media have recorded to be present this season’s Fashion Week, which officially thrills off on Thursday and ends on February 13.
Last season, more than 3.7 million viewers’ watched live streamed shows from the Mercedes-Benz tents, and Clark said the live-streaming get hold of about 190 nations.