In my three short years at FIT, I have watched New York Fashion Week go through a complete transformation. When I was a freshman and sophomore (2013—2014), the runway shows were held at one of four locations within Lincoln Center (with very few exceptions) and presentations were held by lesser known designers that could not afford the Lincoln Center space. After the Fall/Winter 2015 shows were held in February of last year, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week did not resign their contract with Lincoln Center, and instead decided to split the location between two spaces: Skylight at Moynihan Station (which shares its building with the post office across from Penn Station) and Skylight Clarkson Sq in West SoHo. Check out this Women’s Wear Daily article for more information. This disruption caused a few major designers to stray from conventional spaces and find a show location that better fit their brand.
This season’s shows were technically still hosted by Mercedes-Benz at Clarkson Sq and the Moynihan Station (as well as two more additional locations), but the majority of influential designers chose to opt out for more “on brand” locations. Because of social media and the power of sponsored content, runway shows have become less of a presentation for fashion editors and senior buyers and more of a marketing opportunity.
This season’s locations included Roosevelt Island for Kanye West’s Yeezy presentation, the literal streets of SoHo for Rebecca Minkoff, The Frick Collection Museum for Carolina Hererra, Whitney Museum of American Art for Tory Burch, Chelsea Arts Tower for Jil Sander Navy, and Pier 59 Studios for Custo Barcelona (to name a few).
Tommy Hilfiger definitely wins the award for “Most Elaborate Presentation.” Tommy Hilfiger has been doing shows “off location” for many seasons, but they completely transformed the South Street Seaport into a carnival to release their TOMMYXGIGI collection—which also happened to be available for purchase immediately after the show. I believe this level of spectacle will become more commonplace for brands that can afford the millions of extra dollars needed for this level of showmanship, and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be home to the up and coming designers that just want a simple catwalk.
Keeping up with seeing multiple collections every day sounds stressful enough, but having to also worry about strategically planning your commute sounds like additional stress I am not jealous of Eva Chen for. I predict fashion presentations will filter back to what it used to be almost 100 years ago where private showings where held for the head editors and department store buyers. In addition to these private viewings, large Tommy Hilfiger-level spectacles will be open to the public. Celebrities and other influencers get the front row, of course, and the general public can purchase a ticket. “See now, buy now” will be the norm as well, but the buyers will still secretly be six months ahead of the consumers. The fashion industry is certainly changing, and time will tell if it is for the better.