Published on September 11th, 2012 | by Charu Suri6
The Glossy Subculture of New York City’s Fashion Week
Twice a year, some 1% of the city’s crème de la crème designers, buyers and fashion obsessed will visit the hallowed grounds of New York Fashion Week (also known in the industry as “the tents”). What happens inside these tents is something along the lines of the Las Vegas campaign: it’s very much insider culture.
Not that the fashion-loving public won’t love to actually sit down to see a show (most would, if anything to go celeb spotting). This is a glossy subculture of New York City, and a glamorous one that’s far removed from the concerns of unemployment, political debates, educational reform and taxes. But does it raise New York’s profile when it comes to being a luxury destination? Absolutely.
“I do think Fashion Week attracts people to the city,” says Ayren Jackson Cannady, a Washington D.C. based beauty writer. “Fashion/celeb lovers from other parts of the country come to be in the middle of the action–if only for a week. Economically, it’s got to be great for the city. There are tons of parties going on where people spend money (i.e. Fashion’s Night Out). It also helps New York remain at the top of the list when the ‘fashion capital of the world’ discussions start happening.”
Mayor Bloomberg recently unveiled winners of Project Pop-Up NYC, which is an economic initiative created to ensure that the city grows as the global capital of the fashion and retail industry. But unless you’re a model, reporter, buyer or celebrity, chances are that you’re not sitting inside the tents to see a show (unless you have good friends in high places, and that’s always nice to have).
So, what exactly is the allure of Fashion Week to the bystander? Does he or she really have an opinion? Does the average professional even care? “Yes,” says Andrew Romeo, a management consultant. “Even though most New Yorkers absolutely hate anything that clogs traffic. New York City is the capital of fashion, regardless of the fact most of us just want a friggin’ cab.”
But over the years, Fashion Week has changed from something really exclusive (a hush hush private dinner type event) to something that everyone can enjoy, thanks in large part due to the livestream videos that have been recently introduced. So, if you own a computer and are plugged in, you can watch the shows in real time. The benefit of this option is –of course—slaking your own curiosity and enjoying the eye candy, unless you happen to have some significant change sitting in your bank account for impulse purchases.
What’s also interesting is how brands are approaching Fashion Week.
Walgreens has a sponsored kiosk at the corner of MILK Studios (15th Street and 10th Avenue) filled with delicious treats including Reese’s Pieces and newly minted copies of New York Magazine, “Haute” launches for models and bottles of SmartWater.
American Idol star Katharine McPhee stops by the Birchbox Lounge to curate her own
Birchbox, a monthly beauty box subscription, has sponsored a Fashion Week lounge for the first time for editors, bloggers and other online influencers to visit the lounge. Visitors could stock up on beauty samples, curate their own Birchboxes, get manicures in the lounge, and also pick up ready made sandwiches from Wichcraft. It’s product—and branding—heaven. Says co-founder Katia Beauchamp about the idea for the lounge, “We wanted to target it to the Fashion Week influencers—the bloggers. We created it specifically for them.”
The Daily Suite is also an example of how brands are glorified: the Daily, a Fashion Week magazine, hosts a large suite for the glitterati and showcases new brands from Hanes to Disaronno.
The result of all these shows and lounges is the trickle down effect: influencers visit, tweet and write about the brands and shows, and all this reaches the consumers. New York City has always been creative when it comes to attracting travelers, and the bi-annual Fashion Week is yet another magnet.