Designers moving away from New York Fashion Week is something unheard of when it comes to fashion. New York is the epicenter of fashion when it comes to North America. New York has lost a good chunk of its new garde compared to Paris and Milan.
What’s worrying is that designers are highly susceptible to group think. In 1998, all it took for New York fashion week to move from fourth position on the circuit to first was Helmut Lang. In the wake of the Austrian outsider’s move, Calvin Klein, who had expressed his own frustration about the lateness of New York fashion week, quickly adjusted his date, with the rest of New York falling in line shortly thereafter. The optics in that situation were good: New York had become the global fashion leader, chronologically speaking, at least. The recent wave of departures is a less positive development. It suggests that Paris is a better place to do business.
This is no surprise to me seeing how fashion has moved more towards a European classy style compared to the loose relaxed fit that america is known for. Also when it comes to fashion people are learning more about fabrics, quality, and cuts normally designers and retail stores from the European market take the lead on this aspect of fashion. I understand now why they would want to go to Paris first and then come to New York to present their collection.
Not so fast, says Steven Kolb, the president and CEO of the CFDA, which manages the city’s fashion week calendar. “New York is absolutely open for business, this is where you can grow your business,” he said on the phone earlier today. “Not one of these brands would be able to show in Paris, if it weren’t for New York. They’re all winners of the Fashion Fund or participants, and they were able to get their start because of how democratic and open American fashion is.” Pointing to brands like Stella McCartney and Valentino, which show in Paris despite maintaining home bases elsewhere, he continued, “we helped support these brands grow, and they’re at the point now where they can go to Paris. There’s a sense of pride in that.”
Kolb suggested the recent changes, which have also seen Tommy Hilfiger take his show to LA (last season) and London (Spring ’18), have been prompted by the Boston Consulting Group’s 2016 study, which encouraged designers, in the face of a “broken” fashion system, to “try different things.” Kolb also indicated that these shifts could be temporary. “The truth is we’ve seen New York designers go to Europe and show, and come back to New York.”
“Fashion Week was created to meet the needs of designers, buyers, and editors,” Kolb said. “We meet the demand. As long as there’s demand we’ll do it. I don’t see it diminishing, I just see it changing.”