IMG Fights to Bring Back Exclusivity, Designers to Lincoln Center

Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week is getting a makeover, right down to the invite lists.
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Alyssa Vingan Klein
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Mercedes-Benz New York Fashion Week is getting a makeover, right down to the invite lists.
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Twitter was abuzz on Thursday morning about an article in the Wall Street Journal discussing an impending makeover of IMG's Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week this coming season, which, at first read, seems to be all about upping the innovation -- and the exclusivity.

At MBFW, which is based at Lincoln Center, attendees seem to have multiplied season after season, and while the landscape of New York Fashion Week changed, IMG's show venues have not evolved with it. In a press release, IMG's SVP and managing director Catherine Bennett said:

“In recent years, the global fashion week landscape has seen a major shift. What used to be a platform for established designers to debut their collections to select media and buyers, has developed into a cluttered, often cost prohibitive and exhausting period for our industry to effectively do business.”

Every season, IMG holds open registration for bloggers, writers and photographers to get credentials for Lincoln Center, and everyone who is approved is allowed to roam freely around the tents, regardless of whether or not they're invited by designers to a show. This means that the grounds are often overcrowded with folks trying to get their pictures taken by a street style photographer, catch a glimpse of a celebrity, or sneak their way into shows, sometimes by nabbing an invited editor or buyer's seat.

One of IMG's main objectives next season is to reduce audience capacities at its venues. According to the WSJ, "the media guest list will be cut by 20 percent, primarily through tighter accreditation guidelines, to make sure the invited are 'of value to the designers.'"

In the release, IMG also states that it aims to make "invitations once again an exclusive pass for true fashion insiders." It isn't explicitly said, but we're betting that fashion bloggers will be the group that's most heavily affected. This is understandable, but it seems like a catch-22: Should MBFW alienate the same individuals that helped to make it so popular internationally in the first place?

The tents themselves will also undergo a huge transformation from their traditional setup: instead of rows flanking a straight runway, expect a sections of seats with models walking in an "x" configuration (pictured in the WSJ article). Spaces also promise more customizable production with state-of-the-art lighting and sound, offering more freedom when it comes to sets. The changes echo what you see at hot-ticket shows, like Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler and Jason Wu, which happen at unique, off-site venues.

Finally, MBFW is introducing The Hub at Hudson, which is a venue four blocks from Lincoln Center that offers "urban and downtown charm." The Hub sounds like it could be IMG's answer to MADE Fashion Week at Milk Studios, which has become the go-to venue for buzzy, up-and-coming fashion brands, as well as those who identify with a more indie, "downtown" consumer. To be frank, Milk Studios is where the cool kids tend to congregate during NYFW, and this could be an attempt to keep them -- and the designers they want to see -- closer to Lincoln Center.

We applaud MBFW for changing with the times, but do you think that -- despite how ambitious these changes might be -- Lincoln Center will be able to draw back the designers it has lost over the years? And could the new guidelines mean the end of the NYFW circus for good?