Welcome to Glossy’s New York Fashion Week newsletter, bringing you on-the-ground insights and analysis from straight off the runway. All week, we’ll be sending behind-the-scenes glimpses and interviews with industry members straight to your inbox. Sponsored by Shopify Plus.
As conversations swirl about the relevance of New York Fashion Week, one theme that has already emerged is the lack of pomp and circumstance-filled, experiential shows.
Tom Ford has decamped to Los Angeles to align wth the Academy Awards this Sunday, Ralph Lauren is planning to show in April, Tommy Hilfiger is showing in London, and newer guard designers like Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss will drop a collection, but not have a formal show. Other downtown types known for quirky, talked-about experiences like Opening Ceremony and Maryam Nassir Zadeh either no longer exist as they were or they are simply skipping out.
Ralph Lauren was probably best known for its over-the-top spectacles, see its 50th anniversary celebration in Central Park in 2018 or its jazz nightclub experience last September.
“Developing unique experiential shows continues to be a primary focus for the brand to engage consumers, maintain a series of freshness and add an element of surprise,” said a Ralph Lauren spokesperson, indicating that the company is not abandoning its experiential format, but rethinking it.
There are plenty of factors for the lack of designers showing at NYFW this week, including the cost-prohibitive nature of staging a show, the rise of social media and the questions around if the ready-to-wear seen on the runway connects with the end consumer.
To that end, 3.1 Phillip Lim will skip out on a traditional fashion show this season and instead have an open house at the brand’s Noho store on Feb. 10. Its seasonal collection will be on view.
“As we increasingly move toward a direct-to-consumer business model, it’s important that we really speak to and connect with our audience and those who have supported the brand all of these years,” said Wen Zhou, 3.1 Phillip Lim co-founder and CEO. “We are welcoming everyone: friends, family, customers, the general public and our creative neighbors and businesses on Great Jones Street.”
Making NYFW more relatable for shoppers is why IMG has expanded its consumer-focused Experience arm, which allows fashion lovers to purchase tickets to certain shows, meet-and-greets and full-day experiences for $500 to $1,999. After piloting the program with Rag & Bone, Chromat and The Blonds x Moulin Rouge last season, IMG will give customers access to 10 shows this NYFW.
“We intentionally kept it small last year to see what worked and what didn’t, but it was very successful,” said Mahmoud Youssef, president of experiences at Endeavor (IMG is a subsidiary of Endeavor). “We are showing a mix of designers at Spring Studios and those outside like Monse.”
Youssef would not disclose how many tickets were sold last season, but said attendees were a mix of “super fans,” “industry professionals” and larger companies that were buying group seats.
While some insiders are displeased that NYFW can now be attended by industry outsiders, Youssef sees Endeavor’s Experience as a way to support designers financially.
“Our goal, ultimately, is to show designers how we can work as a partner to them. We are offering them access to new revenue streams, helping them offset costs of these incredible productions and connecting them directly to new fans and valuable future customers. In the past, these designers were showing to customers they already knew,” he said. “Traditionally, fashion shows cost money, but they haven’t made money for the designer. I think some designers will use this opportunity to relaunch.”
Whether this kind of program will bring designers back to NYFW is not clear, but Rag & Bone is one example of a fashion company utilizing this format to its advantage.
“There is no magic bullet in our industry and no magic event,” said Zhou. “What works is to deeply connect with clients, put our best product out there and evolve as necessary.” — Priya Rao
4 Questions with Miss PR Piggy
Just as anonymous Instagram accounts like Estée Laundry and Diet Prada have both called out and made fun of the beauty and fashion industries, Miss PR Piggy is doing the same for the public relations sector. Since quietly debuting last September, the lighthearted meme account that uses Miss Piggy as its face chronicles the changing dynamics between editors and publicists, as well as fashion brands and influencers. Ahead, the publicist talks to Glossy exclusively.
What was the reason for starting Miss PR Piggy?
I have worked in fashion for a while now and felt like we were due to hear from PR people. It’s weird to say this, given the nature of what we do, but it is rare that PR people have an acknowledged or visible presence in the fashion world. Miss PR Piggy is an evolved and unassuming industry voice that appropriately is in meme form. For me, working in fashion PR is a constant source of fun and angst. It can be beautiful, creative and thought-provoking while wildly frustrating, too. Thankfully, I haven’t run out of material yet.
Do you think the demand for fashion PR is changing with the recent and very public closings of Black Frame and Siren PR?
The reality is that small emerging brands are popping up constantly and are looking for PR services to break into the market. I think it is super important right now to hold a mirror up to these new brands, and ask, “Why do you exist?” and “Why are you different?” The market is saturated right now, and the industry in all facets is collectively fatigued by the excess: too many brands, too many shows, too many appointments, too many launches, too many emails in everyone’s inbox, the list goes on. The more that PR people work with new brands and help them strategize and hone in on their identity while streamlining their message, the more the editorial world will trust what you’re doing. Fashion PR is very much in demand, but we could be doing it better. The areas we must grapple with are being strategic, managing expectations, reading a room, staying authentic, maintaining integrity and being conscientious. Surface-level, sloppy PR efforts — i.e., begging for favors just to get a story — is not chic in 2020.
What is your take on the editor-publicist relationship and the influencer-publicist relationship today?
The fact that editors are switching from editorial to PR roles says a lot about how those imbedded power dynamics are changing. The PR-editor relationship is more mutually beneficial than it ever has been. Those who have not yet embraced that and like to pretend it is still 2005 will be forgotten pretty soon. Influencer
Do you think Miss PR Piggy is the publicists‘ version of Estée Laundry and Diet Prada?
These voices add a lot of value and a dose of perspective to the world we work in. I never really saw myself as a “callout” for the PR professionals, but I do find my followers love to engage with me about the state of the industry in my DMs, even though I am rooted in humor. I am excited to have conversations about making fashion more progressive. — Priya Rao
Rihanna is expected to bring some much-needed zhuzh to Bergdorf Goodman tonight via the BG launch of her Fenty fashion line.
Image courtesy of Tanya Taylor