New York Fashion Week is undeniably in a period of transition. With major New York-based designers decamping to Paris Fashion Week in what feels like droves and the week itself shortening by a day, questions about what NYFW is — and where it's headed — abound.
IMG has at least part of the answer. On Tuesday, WWD announced that IMG will be introducing NYFW: The Experience, a consumer-facing program aimed at high-end customers and corporate clients, in September.
Behind-the-scenes tours, prime runway seating, fashion VIP meet-and-greets, runway photo opps and more are all part of the offering. The result will be that fashion outsiders — or at least those who aren't press, buyers, or celebrities famous enough to get invited to shows — get to see fashion week for themselves, rather than through the social media accounts of the fashion people they follow.
"Fashion shows are the ultimate mega-marketing event, and historically the consumer has been outside the door," co-president of IMG Mark Shapiro told WWD. "To be able to get a front row seat to the action is such a unique experience."
Of course, that "front row seat to the action" will be structured in such a way so that those who opt in see only the most glamorous parts of fashion week. In other words, rubbing shoulders with models and star designers will be a yes, but scrambling to shuttle between shows, having late nights paired with early mornings and dealing with general exhaustion — in other words, living through fashion week like many who actually work in the industry do — will be a definite no. To that end, luxury gift bags and access to an exclusive gourmet food bar and hospitality lounge are also part of the bundle.
The opportunity to participate will only be available through IMG-sponsored shows, and the hope is that it will give designers and brands a chance to connect more directly with their high-end clients. It's a step that logically arises from the way that social media and instant streaming has increasingly turned fashion week from an industry insider event to a consumer-facing entertainment extravaganza.
"We've had incredible demand from brands, designers and people who recognize that NYFW and global fashion weeks are changing and evolving," said Shapiro. "Everyone is wondering what goes into creating fashion week? What is it actually like to be behind the curtain?"
Whatever else NYFW: The Experience does, it's sure to leverage that curiosity into cold hard cash with the yet-unlisted but undoubtedly pricey tickets.