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How Can New York Fashion Week Stay Relevant?

Can New York Fashion Week stay relevant in a discounted, fast fashion, digital, “buy now, wear now” retail environment?

The short answer is yes, however, in a new report by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), the association said it will be up to each brand and designer to determine the next best steps.

The CFDA employed The Boston Consulting Group to question 50 fashion industry stakeholders on hot topic issues such as in-season relevancy and shifting delivery dates. The study identified three challenges in the current system: the downward affect early deliveries are having on in-season product, the lack of perceived newness from consumers who are exposed to next season’s trends via social media and fast fashion, and designer burnout.

While the report said the fashion industry is “ripe for change,” the CFDA concluded by stating that it does not promote only one specific idea or solution. Instead, the organization encourages the industry try and experiments with new concepts.

Brands will still have to present their upcoming collections to press and buyers several months before deliveries, but the CFDA said brands can “alleviate the pressure” to host large-scale presentations and re-allocate resources to activate sales when collections are available at retail.

Here’s a look at some of the concepts and ideas suggested by interviewees and the CFDA:

  • Retailers shift their delivery date calendars later.
  • Host smaller retail and press appointments 4-6 weeks before deliveries to ensure better control of released images. Consider holding an in-season or “consumer-relevant” event during or after New York Fashion Week. In the report, CFDA said these events can be a fashion show with or without consumers in attendance, or range from digital campaigns and small parties to short films.
  • Produce a main show, but include a capsule collection available for sale immediately.
  • Combine men’s and women’s shows.
  • Merge design for main and pre-collections.