The Fall of Fashion Week
Fashion week has been a New York City mainstay since the 1940s, but with rapidly advancing e-commerce and a shift in consumer buying patterns, designers and consumers alike are unsure if NYFW is worth the trouble.
The fashion industry, in its current state, is relatively accessible. Consumers no longer have to settle for a limited selection of designers and department store brands. The emerging world of e-commerce has brought with it a new world of fashion—one that doesn’t abide by the decades-old fashion calendar. New-age brands such as Everlane and ASOS, among dozens of others, have largely neglected traditional retail and have instead introduced a new, seemingly consumer-first way of doing business. These online storefronts operate on their own calendars, releasing immediate collections to meet the needs of their target customers. Instead of worrying about showcasing a collection, these brands present and release clothing when it’s deemed most necessary.
With all that said, why do we still have fashion shows?
In a 2016 interview with WWD, designer Tom Ford called traditional fashion shows an “antiquated idea” in a world that has become “increasingly immediate”. Ford was referring to the changing landscape of the fashion industry, suggesting that consumers no longer want to endure the 4 month period between viewing a designer’s collection and the collection being available for purchase. With the industry having shifted towards limited online drops in the renaissance of the digital age, it’s likely that the designer is right. However, Ford attempted the “See Now, Buy Now” model with his namesake brand in 2017 and found that it flopped, claiming that his company lost a month of sales as the clothes sat in inventory, as reported by Business of Fashion. Even with Ford’s lack of success, luxury labels such as Moncler are ditching the fashion calendar in favor of monthly drops that cover the 12-month span of the year. Even Gucci and Burberry are adopting the exact same “See Now, Buy Now” model that Ford used in hopes that it catches on.
Fashion is rapidly becoming more universal, and that’s exactly why New York fashion is fading away. Unlike its European predecessors, American fashion has no heritage, and resultantly, it has no staying power. The luxury powerhouse within fashion is a European creation, and these labels now know that the American consumer will see their collection no matter where they show, opting to return to their respective traditions. Marc Jacobs and Alexander Wang are the only luxury labels keeping NYFW alive as it struggles to keep its head above water in a sea of young brands that lack significance.
Fashion week beginning to exit New York isn’t the worst thing in the world, though. In fact, it gives opportunity to the dozens of young brands in the city to shine without having to sit in the shadow of Marc Jacobs. This is already happening. A prime example is Emily Bode, a New York based designer, who won the 2019 LVMH prize. The LVMH prize is an award for young fashion designers that have stood out in the industry, and with the fashion landscape in New York having cleared, Bode and her namesake label have begun to shine globally. If things continue at this rate, she will be the first of many successful newcomers.