The Assemblist Letter 21 - Weighing In On New York Fashion Week

When I started in this industry more than 10 years ago I was so excited for New York Fashion Week (NYFW). I mean don't get me wrong, I still am!

But, the fact of going to a show and what it meant, was something. There were much fewer brands on the calendar back then and it's interesting to see how many people try to get into the mix today. The landscape of brands has more than quadrupled. It’s interesting to see all of these people needing to get eyes on their products and how they’re doing that, which is now a mix of runway shows, presentations, private appointments and of course, social media. I think over the last couple of years on all sides - brands, editors and buyers have gotten frustrated with the over-packed schedules as they want to see everything but there’s no possible way! It’s funny and interesting, though frustrating and exciting at the same time obviously to have all of the buzz around this week.

We even tried our first foray into fashion week last year with our YouTube collaboration which was amazing. We were able to get six super talented designers out there a little bit more. Of course we obviously experienced the challenges that a first time NYFW goer endures: making sure that you get the designers in front of editors and getting some face-time. It’s definitely something that we can see doing in the future, it’s just a matter of what makes sense and allocation of time! We try to, at least on the buyer side, capture the traffic that is here for fashion week, for the business side of things. One of the reasons we created The Brand Assembly Square in the first place was to help brands get in front of both buyers and editors, with an extended market week. We strive to create an environment that's not overly-packed and welcoming.

Over the last couple of weeks there’s also been a huge chatter of the consumer-facing NYFW, which for me personally on the business side is something that I have mixed feelings about. Generally I think NYFW gets the buyers excited about what they’re seeing and purchasing. It also gives them a road-map on how they’re going to lay out their dollars for the season. If that switched fully to being consumer-driven, there still has to be something for the buyers and editors six months ahead when it gets delivered to the consumer. It’s also a matter of doubling expenses for the designers, by having to go through the motions twice of doing something for the consumers, and then again for the buyers and editors. It’s an interesting topic of discussion, and I don’t have strong feelings either way but I do think that it is important to have a consumer involved, especially since things are moving towards being more e-commerce oriented and searchable.

Obviously I think NYFW and fashion shows generally are really important for designer-level brands. They’re the ones that started and pioneered NYFW. Though the idea of “contemporary” which we’ve been talking about since the launch of The Assemblist, is interesting and important. I think contemporary designers do a good job of thinking outside of the box a lot more. They're showing it’s not necessarily big fashion shows that are the go-to anymore. At the end of the day I hope that the idea of collaboration and community is one of the ways these contemporary brands can get their designs out there. Let's see what the week brings!

- Hillary France, co-founder and CEO of Brand Assembly


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