Guys: We made it. Not only did we survive yet another season of New York Fashion Week, but we managed to do so during a particularly unpredictable season. With the industry being in a state of flux as of late (see: designer musical chairs, "see now, buy now," etc.), there was no telling how the week — okay, nine days — would play out. But exactly one dreadlock-triggered controversy later, we've arrived on the other side, ready to unpack spring 2017.
To be fair, NYFW went largely as expected. In terms of "see now, buy now," some brands (including Ralph Lauren, Rebecca Minkoff and Tommy Hilfiger) embraced it and actually sold some pieces, while others avoided it altogether. With Alexander Wang's music festival (#WangFest) and Hilfiger's fashion carnival (#TommyxGigi), elaborate "experiences" outlived more standard runway shows on Instagram. And much to our delight, age, racial and body diversity played a much larger role on the catwalk.
While the week didn't exactly feel cohesive, it did seem to be headed in a more standardized direction. As fashion continues to evolve, this season was a hint of what's to come as early as when the February shows roll around. With 121 runway shows under our collective belt this season, we compiled our predictions for the future of NYFW. Read on.
Shows and presentations will become more experiential
If #WangFest and #TommyxGigi were any indication, show-goers (present company included) still thoroughly enjoy a creative presentation; what's more, designers and brands seem eager to deliver that experience to consumers, this season especially. For smaller brands seeking coverage, it's a near-foolproof way to get editors, bloggers, buyers and the like to RSVP. Not only do attendees enjoy a break from an otherwise repetitive schedule, but it allows show-goers to capture a much-sought-after moment on Instagram and — ugh! — watch the likes roll in.
At Maryam Nassir Zadeh, models memorably smashed a table full of pitchers, plates and vases on the floor, while Raquel Allegra and Assembly New York put on a rather chic basketball game. For its NYFW debut, streetwear retailer Kith put on Kithland, a half-hour show that featured 90 looks and three performances from Fabolous, The Lox and Mase. All of the above were memorable, immersive and, in some cases, cost-effective events that we didn't want to miss.
Which brings us to...
Brands will place a heightened emphasis on "Instabait"
With unique show experiences come a plethora of social media opportunities, the likes of which we saw with the 27,043 (!) and 2,842 Instagram posts tagged #TommyxGigi and #WangFest, respectively, at press time. Minkoff worked overtime for her own runway extravaganza, which, like #TommyxGigi, was open to the public and enlisted the help of power influencers Chriselle Lim, Arielle Nachmani of Something Navy, Gala Gonzales, Caroline Vreeland and Shea Marie — all of whom have a combined 3.5 million Instagram followers — to walk the runway.
Minkoff's casting choice wasn't just a fun gimmick. Fashion and beauty brands are investing more in influencer marketing than ever, according to a January study published by the Fashion and Beauty Monitor that polled more than 300 marketing professionals. It's a crucial marketing tool for retailers such as Revolve, which flew in influencers from 12 different countries — including one Kim Kardashian — to a Hamptons mansion this past July. TL;DR? Influencers sell product, and it's in a brand's best interest to provide a plethora content opportunities as a result.
There will be a growing bifurcation of "see now, buy now"
As buzzy (and for consumers, sensical) as "see now, buy now" may be, it's just not feasible for many smaller designers. Many non-direct-to-consumer brands will likely stick to showing six months ahead of the date that its clothes will hit the shop floor. And for companies that don't have the power that Tom Ford and Burberry have to partner with retailers, it's much more cost-effective for them to only produce pieces based on what buyers want.
That being said, we should plan for a broader divide between those brands that are both willing and able to adhere to a consumer-facing format and those that aren't. Should the so-called "high-street" retailers like J.Crew, Topshop and Club Monaco continue to have a presence during NYFW, "see now, buy now" could work well for them in ensuing seasons.
Street style will be more orchestrated by brands
With influencers being as successful, sales- and marketing-wise, as they've proven to be, it's no surprise that brands would want to utilize them as fully as possible. Gifting is an enormous operation within NYFW in and of itself, and it's likely that brands will continue to dress influencers, ensure they get photographed and try to get those images placed at sites like this one. It's a much less organic process than, say, Chiara Ferragni going out and buying a sweater that she liked, then wearing it for photographers for nine straight days — but it's an effective one.
Runways will (finally) become more diverse
This season, we named three brands (with three honorable mentions) as having the best age (Rachel Comey), racial (Brandon Maxwell) and body (Christian Siriano) diversity of NYFW. Each runway show made a ripple in a larger, more institutionalized issue, but it represented a progress the likes of which we haven't seen previously, either at home in New York or abroad. Take Demna Gvasalia, for example, who failed to cast a single model of color in either of his fall 2016 casts for Vetements or Balenciaga. After the widespread acclaim that designers Comey, Maxwell and, particularly, Siriano received for their casting, the tides seem to be shifting — albeit slowly, but in the right direction.