CFDA Announces NYFW Changes in Order to Fashion a More Compelling Week

It is hardly a secret that New York Fashion Week has routinely been less of a draw than the bigger ticket weeks in Europe. As a result, editors, buyers, and influencers have often skipped the first few days of the bi-annual NYFW's in February and September, descending on New York in time for the biggest events, such as Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Alexander Wang, Oscar de la Renta, and Marc Jacobs (who has customarily shown on the last day of the week) - just to name a few. And designers – when inevitablyestablished enough – skipped out on NYC to show elsewhere (namely, Paris).

The Council of Fashion Designers of America ("CFDA"), the official scheduling body for NYFW, wants to change this and seemingly attempt to position NYFW in a more compelling light not only to draw the crowd it wants (to support the designers that fall under its umbrella) but to keep those designers here.

As reported by WWD on Tuesday, changes are afoot. Not only will the official week be a day shorter – six days as opposed to seven – the CFDA has secured some stunning bookends for the week. For Spring 2018, new opening acts include Calvin Klein and Tom Ford, who will kick off day one of NYFW and Marc Jacobs will close the week.

These tweaks are likely an attempt to get the desired industry individuals to New York to take in all of the shows (Calvin Klein under the helm of Raf Simons is the most highly-watched among the fashion elite, after all) and to stay for them. It is in the CFDA's interest as the organizer of the week and the governing body of its American design talent members to secure buyers and editorial interest in collections that come down the runway.

Mark Beckham, the CFDA’s vice president of marketing, who oversees the calendar, said feedback from international press and retailers was that the eight-day schedule was becoming too long and costly. So, it is safe to say that at least part of the newly-announced changes are aimed at remedying that.

Additionally, there is the very real practice of designers outgrowing New York Fashion Week, so to speak, or abandoning it for a season or two, which does not bode well for the CFDA’s calendar and the esteem of the week.

Proenza Schouler and Rodarte are the latest to up-and-leave New York in favor of Paris, and they are hardly the first. American designer Thom Browne, who is based in New York, also shows his menswear collection in Paris. Phillip Lim – who shows his womenswear collection in New York – chose to begin showing his menswear collection in Paris in 2011. Rick Owens, the California-born designer, completely relocated his business to Paris in 2003, just under ten years after he launched it. Recently-folded Hood by Air also opted out of New York in favor of Paris several seasons ago.

There are also the one or two-off season switches. The Olsens have taken to Paris to show their label, The Row, in the past, ultimately returning to New York. Tommy Hilfiger and Rebecca Minkoff recently took their shows to Los Angeles and according to WWD, "weren’t guaranteeing a return to New York."

It seems that practical/business-oriented concerns are uniform grounds for most of the designers that have decamped to New York’s French counterpart thus far. Practically speaking, for many designers, showing in Paris generates far greater visibility for their brands in terms of the international fashion press, as well as the world’s most sought-after buyers. And this is certainly part of the equation for New Yorkers that make the move.

As for whether the CFDA’s newly revamped NYFW will help to dissuade some designers from opting out of a domestic fashion week is yet to be seen. And the question always remains: Which brands will be next to go?

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