September 12, 2013

Let's bring it back to the Catwalk

Has Fashion Week become a mass market kind of event? We see more and more shows every year added to the calendar, many being live streamed or available digitally on demand via the internet and apps. Before the tents were reserved for only high-fashion brands and now any designer that can afford it can produce a show from Desigual to Project Runway to Nautica. Not to mention, the audience is no longer limited to the industry's most honored insiders like editors, credited bloggers and buyers, but it's become a social event that invites everyone from non industry related guests to wannabe celebrities.

photo via NY Times

So how relevant are the shows anymore as they lose their exclusivity? Just think of flying and how it's become an everyday norm. In order to stand out you need to rent a private plane to prove you're privileged. With 350 shows this year and tents filled up with spectators that have no direct connection to the industry looking to get a glimpse of fashion's finest or use the event as a publicity stunt, how do we preserve the sacred nature of Fashion Week and keep it about the catwalk, not the guest list?

At a recent fashion council meeting, the Queen of the wrap dress, DVF, mentioned that in a few years all the shows may be showing digitally. With everything moving into cyberspace and no real way to predict the future anymore, this tactic may be the only way to bring exclusivity back by limiting access to clientele, editors, and buyers actually interested in purchasing and promoting the brand. Just think of the amount of money designers can save from producing shows and instead, reinvest it back into the quality of the clothing and the brand.

photo via WWD

This brings up another point: the need for brands to be more careful than ever with their social media strategies. It's no longer just about seeing the clothes on the runway but posting them on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube instantly. However, there's a fine line between posting relevant content and putting anything and everything out there. Designers are going to have to learn to find a balance between reaching a larger, global audience and controlling who sees what, where and when, if they want to maximize profits, create publicity, and deter knock-offs of their collections.

With all this talk of exclusivity, another way of standing out from the over-saturated fashion calendar and create a unique story in the process is by producing shows offsite. Here are some exciting side venues that stand out from the masses of shows and give you a hint of what the future may hold for the catwalk.

Meet Ruth Runberg, the former Buying Director of Brown's, who now with the help of Freelance Stylist, Alison Brokaw has launched an appointment-only fashion event that is not only collaborative but cost-effective as well. Deemed The White Space because many emerging designers are merely looking for "an empty white box" during Fashion Week, Runberg has handpicked five designers who will show their collections at the West Chelsea studio of Justine and Jeff Koons. Rather than charging the designers, both Runberg and Brokaw will receive a small percentage of any sales made from the presentation and the designers themselves have agreed to donate to the Koons Family Institute which works alongside the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children.

photo via

Probably our favorite menswear label, Ernest Alexander, really won us over this season at Bespoken. As you enter through a back freight elevator up to the 17th floor, the space combined an industrial warehouse setting with a casual, well-defined man. This time, American Designer Ernest Sabine has gone abroad with a collection reflective of his time in Venice. The clothes were modern, with preppy details and accented solid tailored pieces with light florals, pinstripes, and ditzy prints. His signature briefcases and carry-alls added a bit of a edge to his classically, cool style in camo and charcoal wax finishes.

photo via Juan Luis Real

Located at Canoe Studios overlooking the Hudson River, Pedro del Hierro showcased a static presentation full of an intimate circle of guests industry-wide. With a quality and price similar to Miu Miu, this was the first time Pedro del Hierro showed in New York. Carmen March, the creative director talks about the multitalented artist, Mariano Fortuny as one of the visionary creative forces that changed the course of modern concept of Fashion. Mirroring his laid-back oriental aesthetic, the collection featured light and free moving pieces like crepe tunic dresses and flowing overcoats in a palette of soft grays, creamy ivories, pastels and a pop of coral. Just as Fortuny did in his work over the course of his artistic life,March wants his influence to be evident throughout the collections.

video via

MADE Fashion Week emerged in 2009 as a solution to support the next generation of young designers breaking into the industry and have teamed up with both American Express and Macy's to help spread word of this new talent. Founders Mazdack Rassi, Jenné Lombardo, and Keith Baptista have helped put Milk Studios on the calendar as a Fashion Week hot spot and launched the platform, an editorial outlet featuring innovative content, video streaming, and real-time images along with a Tumblr and online store.

The real question is will we even miss it if Fashion Week goes completely digital? We are becoming so accustomed to instant access and viewing things via a computer screen that how important is the real thing anymore? However, in order for us to move in this direction, the industry will have to find a way to reach the right people, preserve everything it stands for and still remain cutting edge and innovative in the process. 

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