For the first time in 22 years the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced it would rethink the format of one of the most iconic events within the industry: New York Fashion Week. Since a phenomenon called “the burnout” caused many of fashion’s biggest influencers to leave, the fashion industry has been under close scrutiny. The infamous “burnout” was sparked when many leading industry creatives such as Alexander Wang, Raf Simons Albar Elbaz and now Grace Coddington stepped down from their roles as head designers and creative director of Vogue, respectively. It was announced in December that the CFDA sought out the Boston Consulting Group, whom the CFDA previously sought out to conduct a study regarding the future of the fashion, to conduct a study specific to the future of fashion shows.
The current format of New York Fashion Week consists of two shoes a year, where spring/summer collections are presented in September and the fall/winter collections are presented in February. The upcoming collections are presented well in advance of their in-store premiere. As a result, consumers are confused since the coverage and social media posts are delivered in real time.
Consumers now have 24/7 access to fashion shows through their Instagram feeds and industry influencers’ Snapchat accounts. Newspapers and magazines are no longer a consumer’s sole source into the elite world of fashion. So what does that mean for the media, who have dutifully reported fashion news and trends? It means news must evolve.
Looking ahead at this coming fashion week, it will remain true to its traditional roots with a few exceptions. As we saw last season, long gone are the traditional white tents of Bryant Park and the chic shine of Lincoln Center. The industry has traded in for the minimalist and industrial Skylight Clarkson Sq. Designer Rebecca Minkoff told Women’s Wear Daily she would be presenting her spring collection rather than her fall/winter this February. She did so in an effort that agrees with CFDA President Diane Von Furstenberg’s vision for the future of fashion week. A vision of a fashion week that is for the consumers rather than the press. Moreover Minkoff is going to make sure 30 to 50 percent of her audience are consumers.
Minkoff may be one of the first designers to move in this direction but she certainly won’t be the last. The format of New York Fashion Week is outdated and elitist for an industry that has made great strides in recent years to open itself to the masses. New York Fashion Week must and will evolve.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Jan. 25 print edition. Email Gabriella Bower at [email protected]