Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Recession Takes Toll on NY Fashion Week, Are We Nearing the End?

No one is explicitly saying it. But the fact that a handful of well-known designers are pulling out of NY Fashion week at the same time that the economy is headed in a seemingly endless downward spiral is a pretty strange coincidence. P. Diddy just announced that there will be no Sean John show this fall (and, yes, unfortunately that means no K Fed sitting front row too). Aussie design-duo Sass & Bide pulled out of NY Fashion Week just a few days ago, claiming they were too busy with production. Meanwhile Band of Outsiders’ Scott Sternberg, who debuted his women’s line, Boy, alongside Band of Outsiders last fall on a boat behind the Chelsea Piers, has opted to produce a look book starring Michelle Williams as opposed to an entire presentation. So, what’s it all mean?

Considering a runway at the main Mercedes Benz-sponsored tents costs designers $100,000 (and that’s not including paying for top models or hair and make-up teams), the option of putting a look book online or holding a significantly more low-key presentation or a trunk show off the Bryan Park path is enough to sway designers both young and old. Besides, as a friend and fashion editor recently put it: “the biggest secret with regard to the fashion industry is that it’s broke!”

With substantive international shows taking place in nearly a dozen cities – from Milan and Paris, to Sydney, Sau Paulo and Stockholm - there’s less of a reason for younger, less financially stable designers to show their collections stateside. Furthermore, fashion shows in general carry less and less importance, considering only an elite few actually get to see the clothes first-hand. Meanwhile, images of the shows are online and at the public’s disposal before all of the guests have cleared their seats. As the distribution of images and information has changed, so has the relevance (or lack thereof) of these increasingly unnecessary presentations.

While NY Fashion Week will surely stick around for countless seasons to come, as long as the economy is stuck in its current stupor there’s no doubt it’ll have a harrowing affect on the shows. But, in the end, maybe it's not such a bad thing. Not only would fewer shows be easier on the environment, it'd save all the poor fashion editors from wearing their heels down running from tent to tent, and from fighting over who gets to sit front row.

Sean John names Dawn Robertson new president [Fashion week Daily]
Sass & Bide Forgo New York Fashion Week in September [Fashion Week Daily]
Look book trends and Coolness [Coutorture]

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Alisa Gould-Simon is a freelance writer based in Brooklyn.