Fashion’s Night Out
NYC’s Fashion’s Night Out shocked the world this morning with an announcement via Twitter that after four huge years the event would not be held in 2013.
Founded in 2009 by Vogue Editor-In-Chief Anna Wintour with a mission to reignite consumer shopping in the midst of the recession, the event has served as a lavish celebration of fashion with events hosted all over the world.
“Fashion’s Night Out brought great energy, optimism and enthusiasm to the city’s retailers, who make up a thriving part of our economy. We can always count on fashion industry leaders to use their creativity and savvy to benefit New York City — whether they are helping us recover from a national recession, a natural disaster or whatever the next challenge may be,” said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
However the celebration has failed to produce results where it really counts. Designers and retailers found that they had to invest more and more of their resources to maintain a high level of quality while financial returns just haven’t stacked up. The sponsors of the event – Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co. – made the joint decision to go on a hiatus so retailers and designers could “focus their budgets on projects that are more in line with their specific objects, rather than a big event on one night in September.”
An argument could be made that Fashion’s Night Out was a “stimulus package” for the industry or at the very least a way of “saving face” when the country was at risk of losing its glamour. However, the irony of the event being described as a “party” and that canceling it would allow retailers to “focus on their bottom line” can’t be lost.
The Fashion Show Bubble Bursts
While the star-studded event is inarguably fabulous and sensational, news of the cancellation comes all too close to the introduction of our 2012 Fashion Tech Industry Report that claimed a “Fashion Show Bubble” had taken place in the San Francisco Bay Area and that that bubble had burst.
Despite the economic downturn in the last four years, fashion shows have exploded in popularity and frequency. In 2010 San Francisco alone had both two competing fashion weeks and two competing fashion show awards. New fashion designers were popping up left and right while some even came out of retirement. Santana Row exploded as a fashion mecca in Silicon Valley and we even found that the San Francisco Bay Area is one of the largest spenders on fashion in the country.
In 2012 that spurt quickly ended and the trend seems to be spreading elsewhere. What makes this shift a bubble and not just some experiment is that it all happened in defiance of economic reality. In some ways the problem is that there just aren’t enough sponsors in the Bay Area to support the inflated scene. But beyond that, the Bay Area is defined by the technology industry and the technology industry isn’t very fond of flashy clothes.
The great assumption was that fashion shows are a crucial element to fashion business and that if done right they could accelerate the Bay Area fashion industry. As no clear “winners” have been established in this game (either of fashion show producers or fashion designers) this clearly isn’t so.
Fashion shows are an incredibly costly and inefficient media stunt that attract neither buyers nor consumers. Even despite Helium’s own attempts with innovative media strategies, they don’t create valuable relationships with those who do attend and they attract the wrong kind of attention.
There’s just no way for 200 looks from 20 designers to be flashed before 400 people in 60 minutes to convert into sales that will pay for the many expenses. It doesn’t work at fashion shows in San Francisco and it isn’t working for Fashion’s Night Out for New York.
And so, the fashion show is dead.