New York Fashion Week grinding to a halt?


Going out on a limb here, but fashion shows are doomed, a relic of another time. Designers are wise to look for new ways to monetize their creativity. And they might want to cast a glance at the culinary world for inspiration.  Young, influential chefs today are more likely to dream of creating the next Shake Shack vs. some rarefied, high end fine dining spot.  (There are so many similarities between the restaurant biz and fashion it’s definitely worth exploring the approach taken by restaurant operators – especially since they’re winning when it comes to spending.)

Read on below for my take on what ails the business of fashion and what will separate the winners from the losers.

Let’s start with fashion shows.  There is so much wrong with them – starting with the cost (around $400K to host one show – crazy right??). Then there’s the lag between the shows and when the clothes are in stores, and the lag before shoppers want to buy/wear them. In the meantime, the fast fashion folk are ripping off the best of the shows and getting the styles into their stores (at a fraction of the cost) months before the designers ship. On top of that, the shows are primarily for fashion editors – and really, who reads magazines or cares what Anna Wintour has to say anymore?

Designers are starting to take note. Rebecca Minkoff (who has an incredible digital footprint by the way), announced last month that she will show on the NYFW calendar in February. BUT she will show her current line vs. Fall 2016. And the audience will consist of “top customers” of the brand vs. department-store buyers and magazine editors. (Minkoff will still show next-season merchandise to the industry – but only via appointments.)

So where do we go from here:

1. Astute designers will make it a priority to build their own digital eco-system to support their fashion businesses (more direct to consumer, seasonal pop-ups, e-commerce, savvy partnerships within and outside of the fashion world).

2. The Moda Operandi model for the fashionistas with big cash who are looking for the most exclusive designer names.

3. Up-and-coming designers/retailers who create strong, personal brands for themselves will optimize their chances of survival (altho it’s not a given) e.g. Supreme has done a phenomenal job of becoming an iconic brand over the last 20 years.

4. For those of us, who like fashion well enough but shop at COS or H&M or Zara, the absence of fashion shows may impact what we see in stores i.e. there’ll be less inspiration available to fast fashion design studios.

5. More fast fashion retailers will bring in elite designers for limited edition lines or even permanently (the best designers would be smart to go the gig route).

So all things considered, I am sticking by my bold prediction: THE END OF FASHION SHOWS and a complete retool of the high end fashion business.  There’s absolutely no way the business can survive the way it is currently configured.

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