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Alexander Wang's pilgrimage to Brooklyn is only the latest in a series of NYFW shakeups that have caused plenty of raised eyebrows in anticipation for the upcoming FW14 season. If last season was all about how disappointed everyone was with the un-fun circus that NYFW had become, this season is all about trying to appease those who had voiced their concerns.
What does that look like? For now, it means getting back to the business of the shows, which translates (so far) to fewer invites, a call for more innovative show spaces, and a whole lot of uncharted territory.
"This season is very exciting for us as we begin to see the first set of event upgrades both cosmetically and operationally to take effect," Jarrad Clark, IMG's VP and Global Creative Director, told Racked. "We conducted an industry-wide survey that included designers, publicists and show producers to give us honest and anonymous feedback and outline what they truly need from our platform as we began to develop and evolve Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week."
Charlotte Ronson SS14 presentation via Getty
IMG's changes include a new show space for designers, The Hub at Hudson, which is located a few blocks away from Lincoln Center. Charlotte Ronson will be one of the first designers to try out the space this season. "We wanted to try something new, and IMG is trying really hard to change up the format so we thought we would give it a try," Ronson told Racked.
Trina Turk will also be showing at the Hub this season instead of the Box at Lincoln Center, where the brand has shown its collections for the past two seasons. "Constant newness and constant change fuel the fashion industry and I think change is a good thing," Turk told Racked. "The new options have made designers, including myself, think twice about where and how they want to show their collections."
Others are still adjusting to one of the other big changes IMG recently announced— the pared-down approach to the guest lists. The initial announcement about the matter spawned many an op-ed about the necessity of fashion bloggers in NYFW's ecosystem, but it seems as though the designers themselves are supportive of the new measure. "With the rise of social media, bloggers and digital marketing, fashion shows have become quite the spectacle so I do applaud IMG for their efforts," said Turk. "I just hope the playing field isn't leveled too much as I think the involvement of all of the above in fashion help make our industry more democratic."
"They [IMG] are making it much harder for people that are not involved in the industry to attend, which may be beneficial to the designers showing," said Ronson. "It will give the shows more credibility and make them more serious, but it also limits the range of people who get to experience fashion week."
However, IMG's got an answer for that too. Live-streamed shows via the new MBFW Digital District are aiming to raise the bar when it comes to the virtual fashion show experience, perhaps to assuage the feelings of past showgoers who may find themselves without a ticket this season. "Ultimately, our job is to ensure we are providing designers with the best possible platform to achieve their business goals," said Clark. "We will continue to have an open conversation with designers and the industry to hear their feedback and will monitor our success by theirs."
EDUN's show at Skylight at Moynihan Station. Image courtesy of Skylight Group.
Outside of IMG's reach, other companies in charge of hosting runway shows for designers in NYC are waiting to see how the upcoming seasons will be changing the face of NYFW. Jennifer Blumin, CEO and founder of Skylight Group, which counts Prabal Gurung, Rag & Bone and Philip Lim among its clients this season, wondered if this new, spread-out approach to the shows will only continue in the coming years. "Will the Culture Shed, the Hudson Yards project, become the new hub for NYFW, or will it create a Javits Center of fashion against which all designers will rebel? I think designers will want to find other 'homes,' and fashion week will come to fully represent what is wonderful about NYC—wandering from place to place in a city so condensed, high energy, and diverse that the experience of getting from show to show will become part of the spectacle."—Erika Graham
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· Launch NYC Aims to Sell NYFW Clothes On-Site, Immediately [Racked]