Is Social Media Making Fashion Week Less Relevant?


Front row seats at New York Fashion Week may be in less demand now that the world-famous fashion displays have been turned into a second-screen experience of sorts as more brands take their collections digital. 

Designer Rebecca Minkoff is setting the pace with plans to debut photos of her new looks on social photo app Snapchat moments before the models strut their stuff on the runway at Lincoln Center in New York City. Given the 10-second life of the app, users must request to connect to Minkoff for the brief preview. 

“There’s been a lot of debate this year about fashion shows and the circus around it; some people are cutting back,” said Uri Minkoff, CEO of Rebecca Minkoff and Ms. Minkoff’s brother, according to Mashable. “We believe in a different approach. We believe the consumer is part of [fashion week], and that their inclusion is going to grow. The consumer has a voice and say in [our] brand, they should get special perks even if they can’t attend the show.”

This year’s shows will be live-streamed online on Mercedes-Benz’s dedicated Fashion Week website, making it even less necessary for fashionistas to attend the shows in-person.[more]

Minkoff also just wrapped up another digital social campaign through a partnership with Tumblr and Nordstrom. The social talent search crowdsourced a design for a t-shirt and tote bad, a model to wear it and a photographer to shoot the look, all of whom will win $5,000. The look will be available in Nordstrom stores the same day it debuts on the runway. It’s the ultimate in “immediate gratification, ” according to Jeffrey Kalinsky, Nordstrom’s EVP designer merchandising. 

And therein lies the rub. As digital and social continue to disrupt more traditional forms of business and entertainment, some iconic brands risk being lost in the clutter. Fashion Week, which has been an industry staple since 1941, has done its part to accomodate bigger, better and more digital displays, but is the reward worth the work?

“To the outside world, Fashion Week may look like the most fabulous party on earth, but insiders are getting a little tired of all the fuss,” the New York Times comments. “The real point of Fashion Week, to promote collections to editors and retailers several months before they will be in stores, is becoming lost in the age of instant online accessibility.”

Fashion, its seems, is struggling to move at the speed of digital despite growing efforts by Minkoff, J.Crew and other digitally-attuned design houses. With of-the-second social gratification spreading ferociously, fashion brands may need to suit up or risk being left behind.