The democratization of fashion: why consumers come first at NYFW

In an attempt to focus on consumer inclusivity and revive the archaic fashion system, early adopting designers – those that are usually the first to embrace and pioneer change – have begun to implement new seasonal strategies this Fall. Off the back of talks in December when the CFDA proposed that fashion weeks should be consumer-facing events, brands such as Banana Republic, Rebecca Minkoff, Tommy Hilfiger, and Yeezy have quickly jumped on board.

 


Patience was required when queeing up last season for Givenchy's Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show in New-York. (photography by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION)

 

Perhaps it was Givenchy who set the precedent for the democratization of fashion week, opening their Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show to 820 members of the public via a lottery system. But then again, fashion shows around the world such as Melbourne Fashion Festival and Couture Fashion Week were founded with the consumer as top priority, charging anywhere from $50 to $220 for a ticket.

 

 

Opening the doors to the public has its pros and cons, and many industry tastemakers share the belief that this monumental change could reinvigorate consumer interest and stimulate full-price sales. Social media has challenged the consumption landscape and by the time collections are dropped instore (six months later), they’ve already seen enough of it on Instagram and have begun to crave newness.

 


Tommy Hilfiger's Spring/Summer 2016 ready-to-wear show, New-York (photography by Gio Staiano for NOWFASHION)

 

Tommy Hilfiger announced that their Spring/Summer 2017 would be immediately available to purchase across all sales channels in an attempt to realign the retail calendar for the instant gratification generation. “I founded my brand to be accessible and inclusive, and I’ve always considered the consumer to be the most important aspect of our business,” said Tommy Hilfiger in a statement post-show. “In the past 30 years, we’ve paved the way in fusing fashion and entertainment. This philosophy has always been a part of my dream to connect our global consumers to inspiring, unexpected fashion experiences. We’ve been building towards this for a long time, and the natural progression of this approach to democratizing the runway is to make the full excitement and energy of NYFW directly accessible to our consumers in a globally impactful way.

 


A very proud Kanye West at the Yeezy Season 3 show at Madison Square Garden in New-York. (photography by Anna Palermo for NOWFASHION)

 

While it felt more organic for performer and designer Kanye West to include the consumer at his Yeezy presentation-cum-performance – 18,000 of them who purchased tickets for anywhere between $50 and $135 – it was a new strategy for Rebecca Minkoff. “To have them seated at the show is very new,” says the designer on inviting the public to view her Fall collection. “About a third of the room are consumersand they have all been invited via our department stores, media partners such as InStyle or Glamour, and our own stores and our own e-commerce. So that makes about 150 people.

 

 
VIDEO | REBECCA MINKOFF READY TO WEAR FALL WINTER 2016 NEW YORK

VIDEO | REBECCA MINKOFF READY TO WEAR FALL WINTER 2016 NEW YORK

Posted by Nowfashion.com on Saturday, February 13, 2016

 

The recent disruptions to the fashion landscape indicate a much-needed wave of change, especially to re-excite consumers. For a long time now, the fashion industry has operated in a silo mentality but with social media platforms  and the increase of information overload, consumers need to be top of mind for anyone in the business. It’s time to extend invites to the public and reignite interest from the people these collections were initially intended for. They are, after all, the people dropping big bucks on these garments, tagging them on Instagram, and creating envy among their own social network.

 

DISCOVER THE LATEST IN NOWMAGAZINE HERE.

 

Sarah Owen is an Editor at trend forecasting agency WGSN reporting on youth trends from a runway, retail, street, and cultural point of view.
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