The Democratisation of Fashion: Consumers Come First at NYFW
By Sarah Owen

As disruption in the fashion industry is the key topic this week, designers refocus on the consumer during NYFW

Feb 18, 2016
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backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fall 2016 show during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Park Avenue Armory on February 15, 2016 in New York City.

Backstage at the Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Fall 2016

In an attempt to focus on consumer inclusivity and revive the archaic fashion system, early adopting designers have begun to implement strategies this fall season. Off the back of talks in December when the CFDA proposed fashion weeks to be consumer-facing events, brands such as Banana Republic, Rebecca Minkoff, Tommy Hilfiger and Yeezy have quickly jumped on board.

Perhaps it was Givenchy who set the precedent for the democratisation of fashion week, opening their spring 2016 show to 820 members of the public via a lottery system. But then again, fashion shows around the world such as Melbourne Fashion Festival and Couture Fashion Week were founded with the consumer as top priority, charging anywhere from $50 to $220 for a ticket.

Opening the doors to the public has its pros and cons, and many industry tastemakers share the belief that this monumental change could reinvigorate consumer interest and stimulate full-price sales. Social media has challenged the consumption landscape and by the time collections are dropped instore (six months later), they’ve already seen enough of it on Instagram and have begun to crave newness.

A view of the runway set at the Tommy Hilfiger Women's Fall 2016 show (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger)

A view of the runway set at the Tommy Hilfiger Women’s Fall 2016 show (Photo by Nicholas Hunt/Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger)

Tommy Hilfiger announced that their spring 2017 would be immediately available to purchase across all sales channels in an attempt to realign the retail calendar for the instant gratification generation. “I founded my brand to be accessible and inclusive, and I’ve always considered the consumer to be the most important aspect of our business,” says Tommy Hilfiger in a statement post-show. “In the past 30 years, we’ve paved the way in fusing fashion and entertainment. This philosophy has always been a part of my dream to connect our global consumers to inspiring, unexpected fashion experiences. We’ve been building towards this for a long time, and the natural progression of this approach to democratising the runway is to make the full excitement and energy of NYFW directly accessible to our consumers in a globally impactful way.”

While it felt more organic for performer and designer Kanye West to include the consumer at his Yeezy presentation-cum-performance – 18,000 of them who purchased tickets for anywhere between $50 and $135 – it was a new strategy for Rebecca Minkoff. “To have them seated at the show is very new,” says the designer on inviting the public to view her fall collection. “About a third of the room are consumers and they have all been invited via our department stores, media partners such as InStyle or Glamour, and our own stores and our own ecommerce. So that makes about 150 people.”E52B3314

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