Now that “fashion month” (the consecutive New York, London, Milan, and Paris fashion weeks) is over, it is interesting to note how much the fashion show has changed. Originally, NY fashion week was solely a means for editors to view collections. In 1943, buyers were not invited, and the general public had to wait until images hit the magazines, which was a relatively long and slow process. Skipping forward to 1994, the vast majority of fashion shows in NYC were located under the tents at Bryant Park. Invitations were sent out to an increased pool including buyers, online editors and traditional magazine editors, celebrities and brands’ biggest clients. The rise of the fashion blogger and street style icon was certainly underway at this point as evidenced by the select few seated in the front rows.
In 2009, NYFW was branded as Mercedes-Benz fashion week and the internet was playing a notably larger role in the fashion scene, especially since designers are no longer just selling clothes, they are selling their brands. Along with the availability of garments for sale on designers’ websites, fashion bloggers were in full-force. The bloggers provided pictures and insight on the shows on their blogs within minutes of the models hitting the runway (as did many show-goers with an iphone or blackberry), and detailed images of each look were also available on numerous style sites within the hour.
The seeds of fast fashion were planted and the fashion industry had arguably come full swing: haute couture to fast fashion! Shows were not the highly exclusive, private events they once were. Quite the opposite, actually: they were essentially available to anyone with a computer. Not all designers have embraced the media-driven nature of modern day fashion. For instance, Tom Ford, who returned to womenswear in 2010, has not protested quietly. He called fashion too immediate, overexposed and lacking in freshness. As such, for his first show back, Ford prohibited any photographers (including camera phones) and only invited 100 people. It was his attempt to return to the fashion show of a previous era; a less media-focused show.
It was not until this year’s showing of the Fall 2012 collections, which is now located at Lincoln Center, that the internet played its largest role. PR giant, KCD, made shows available online via a password-protected website for editors, who simply cannot make it to all of the shows each day due to the large number of shows scheduled everyday of the various Fashion Weeks.
What the fashion show evolution means for American fashion is not entirely clear. However, it is certainly an understatement to say that there is a delicate balance between technology and fashion, just as there is a fine line between creativity and showmanship, and the business of fashion, the underlying need to sell clothes. In order to hold its spot in the top four of fashion locations, NYC (and American designers) need to constantly be innovating and maybe this is what the internet revolution in fashion is all about.