This February marked my 23rd New York Fashion Week (11.5 years of coverage/23 seasons = yikes!) and so, I think it's fair to say I have a finger on the pulse of the tangible and intangible observations that arise during the course of each one. There has been a current of change bubbling on the surface, with the move from Lincoln Center to an “undisclosed downtown location” in September on the horizon, alongside the increased, heavy, constant use of social media, and of course, the quest (by some) to have their photo taken as they descend upon the entrance to the shows.
Please see below for an elaboration on my observations from New York Fashion Week, fall/winter 2015 collections:
Fashion Week was Subdued; and is Now Homeless
Overall, the vibe felt much more calm and tranquil compared to past seasons, and I think it was because people arrived late, and left early in order to dodge the snow storms and avoid getting stranded in New York with exorbitant hotel and cab fees in tow. Things seemed to be much more in control inside and outside of the tents at Lincoln Center, and although there was a jaw-dropping amount of people scantily clad in mini skirts and open toe shoes for 10 degree weather posing to get their photos taken, it had COMPLETELY died on Wednesday, which oddly, was the warmest day of the week!
The deja vu conversation that I had, probably two dozen times, was being asked “where do you think fashion week will be next season?” which of course, no one had an answer to, but people couldn't help but hypothesize as to where a good fit would be for the mega production (just fyi, this applies to the IMG-organized aspect of New York Fashion Week; currently sponsored by Mercedes-Benz).
No one ever said “I will miss Lincoln Center,” which since Day 1, was considered by most to be rather inconveniently situated, save its access to the west side to hopefully shoot down in a cab or subway to other shows sprinkled throughout the area.
Nope, there was no nostalgia surrounding the departure from Lincoln Center that I experienced, and if anything, people seemed to be dreading that in the future, fashion week would be more fractured, and hence, even more inconvenient.
Get In, Get Out, Don't Get Comfortable
It's been mentioned before that their aren't really “guest services” to make your very temporary stay pleasant and enjoyable, but this season, took it to the next level. I don't really think it was a conscious “let's screw our show-goers over,” mentality, but still, it really left one feeling unwanted. For starters, there was no coat check (almost always available for February shows in the past), and even though it was 10 degrees outside, inside of the venue hot air was blasting at what felt like 100 degrees, which caused many of us to feel like we were having hot flashes, if not completely sweating through our clothes. Glamorous, right?
Also, there's always some sort of food sponsor and caffeine sponsor, like Luna Bar, Fage, Diet Coke, etc, which weren't around this season. Fashion people working long, long hours, plus limited access to food and caffeine spells disaster (well, not quite, but very, very, cranky people). Sure, there was one cafe inside of the venue, but I paid $4 for an espresso on Day 2, and regretted it every day henceforth. Last, and this is not a planned thing, obviously, but the glorified port-a-Johns at the venue were out of service, TWICE, because the pipes froze. Cool. I guess since there weren't free food or beverages provided anywhere then it's not really a problem, right? And…onto my next point.
The Burn Out is Real
Blame it on the weather, which was absolutely horrendous this season, even for a New Yorker who is used to bundling up and excessively walking outside, but so many of my colleagues who I've been used to seeing constantly backstage and at shows said “forget it!” this season, and drastically scaled back there schedules.
There are literally hundreds of shows to see, and it's so easy to get burnt out and sick, especially during this season, that early on, a lot of my fellow bloggers decided to take the backseat this season.
The reasoning tending to be generally, “why make myself sick running around when the information is available immediately?” More than ever, press releases, courtesy photos, the live stream, and social media output produce the info from the shows so rapidly that I see their point! (p.s. – see our features on 4 Reasons to Stay at Home During Fashion Week andHow to be OK About Not Going to Fashion Week).
We Need More Social Media Etiquette
I noticed that practically everyone, from the front row to the last, were filming the runway or constantly snapping pics throughout the entire presentation. Okay, I'm guilty of occasionally doing this too, but some consideration should still be accounted for, it seems to be a rogue state when it comes to social media etiquette. To write a little bit on social media show etiquette, here's what I would like to emphasize:
- TURN OFF YOUR FLASH. It's rude and unnecessary, end of story.
- Also, don't bring your iPad, also rude (and weird).
- Stay in your personal space. Just because a model turns the corner and you want to get a good shot, every single time, doesn't mean your entitled to put your elbow in my face every single time in order to get a semi-okay runway photo.
- Also, it's pretty hard to get a good runway photo, unless you are sitting in the front row (or you are at a presentation).
- Do you have to Tweet or Insta during the show? Go ahead, but know you are missing out on LIFE unfolding right in front of you when you do so.
- Double check to make sure you are using the right brand/designer handles, hashtags, etc.
Digital Has Changed Fashion Week, But Are Brands Fully on Board?
The designers, publicists, and organizers seem to grasp the importance of the digital world with live streams, embracing social media, and online outlets (bloggers), but do they really get it? I can list literally a handful of shows that had their social media handles and a hashtag on their programs. The first thing I do when I sit down at a show is grab and sift the run-of-show (program), and wouldn't it make sense, be convenient, and encouraging to Tweet, Instagram, etc with that info in hand, instead of having to search for it on my own?
Thinking about how the brand is involved, interacts with followers, and what it expects as its return on investment during Fashion Week is an interesting topic, delved into via this WWD article, “At NYFW, Brands Focus on Social Media's ROI.” Here's an excerpt:
“Kristen Joy Watts, Instagram community lead for fashion, said “the next big thing” in digital is happening right now and doesn’t rely on one flashy initiative.
“We’re seeing it with people creating stories at fashion shows,” Watts said, noting that the creative community on Instagram, especially in New York, has become a lot more sophisticated. “We’re all familiar with the obligatory runway photo, [but] the expectation is that you will have people telling digital stories at your shows, presentations or events.””
At the end of the day, the only return on investment that counts is revenue, so to be able to see how social media can be tracked and eventually lead to dollars is important to brands.
Some brands are doing more than others to craft a robust social experience, while others are certainly more passive about it. The reporter, Rachel Strugatz, states that, “Implementing digital programs is no longer novel or newsworthy — it just comes with the territory. Just as brands buy print ads as a matter of course in their businesses, they also dress and encourage online influencers to share socially from the front row.” It's interesting to see how digital is evolving, but as its stated that having digital programs is a given now, I'd like to see more brands carving out a comfortable digital space during fashion week for those who are actually helping out the brand by sharing what walks down the runway via social media.
Where you at fashion week this past season? Anything you'd like to add?
[Image credit: Style.com]