New York Fashion Week has historically brought thousands of attendees from around the world to the city every year, but 2020 is no ordinary year. With how the ongoing coronavirus pandemic in the United States was going, I simply assumed NYFW, which had opted to add a digital component for this year’s show, was going to be held remotely in its entirety. I was surprised when I saw invites in my inbox for actual in-person shows this September.
The Beauty & Style section at Washington Square News has the privilege of being a college newspaper with the opportunity to attend and cover NYFW. I’ve worked one-on-one for two seasons now with my fellow editors at the Culture Desk to RSVP for shows, manage dozens of schedules, host workshops and send writers and photographers to shows at the start of every semester for coverage.
However, with the pandemic occurring, none of us initially knew what steps to take forward. I finally decided that WSN would not be covering in-person shows at NYFW, as we would not be sending writers or photographers to shows we were invited to. Though the Culture Desk has often had a stance of primarily covering in-person fashion shows, as opportunities for multimedia and photography are much more abundant, we could not continue that trend in good conscience this year.
It was not hard to come to this final decision. New York City took the hardest brunt of cases and deaths back in April, and has arguably worked its hardest in the US these past couple of months to decrease the spread of COVID-19.
To send students who have also come from different parts of the country or world to these shows, despite the city bouncing back in recent months, potentially puts students at risk of contracting the virus. These students could potentially spread it to not only fellow students on campus, but staff, faculty or other workers on campus and the NYC community that encompasses our campus as a whole.
It did not sit right with me to have the option to send students to shows where these things could happen, especially as the virus is known to disproportionately affect Black and brown communities. These communities make up a significant population not only in the NYU community, but the surrounding neighborhoods and community of our campus locations.
While the University is one of the relative few that has made the decision to reopen campus for students to return this year, it is also attempting to enforce certain protocols to keep students and faculty not only on campus, but safe on campus.
If students were to gather in large groups, such as the one held in Washington Square Park last weekend, disciplines include potential suspension as well as investigation from NYU’s COVID-19 Prevention & Response Team. Attending a fashion show could potentially constitute the same discipline, which is not a position we at WSN want to put others at risk for, especially given the larger consequences of attending said show.
So how does an in-person fashion week tie into all of this? As students who are visitors to the city while attending classes, it is a privilege to attend these types of NYC events and we must keep in mind that we are visitors to a city that has done its best during the pandemic these past couple of months. Being mindful of the residents of the city we share a neighborhood with should be one of our top priorities this year. It is a privilege to even have this opportunity to cover a fashion show, but it is also a privilege to even have the option to stay put and not put those who are essential workers any more at risk than they already are.
An in-person Fashion Week with an audience is not essential, and while hard work and dedication into covering these shows will be missed, the promise of staying safe and keeping those in our community safe is more important. When I first left campus last semester and was worried about my possessions, my grandfather told me, “Things are replaceable, lives aren’t.”
Email Bella Gil at [email protected]