Can American Malls Make a Comeback?

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The American mall was once one of the bedrocks of leisure time. People could go shopping with friends, enjoy dining, and catch a movie. However, once online shopping came into play, American malls began a slow and steady decline. Rather than shopping in person, consumers began shopping from the comfort of their own home via the internet. It was convenient, clothes could come to you, and you could mail back something if it wasn’t what you expected.

As America’s economy took a hit, particularly during the 2008 recession, people had less discretionary income to shop for clothes and other discretionary items. Once the economy rebounded, the incremental shift to online shopping began to have more of an effect. With the disastrous effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and many major American cities on lockdown, there was more of a shift to online shopping Though many brick-and-mortar stores and malls have reopened, customers are still preferring to shop online for health and safety reasons.

So, where does that leave the American mall? Malls are stuck asking themselves how, and if, they can manage to make a comeback.

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For starters, mall owners will have to reevaluate what to do about tenants and mall anchors. The number of American retailers who have recently filed bankruptcy is staggering. Modell’s Sporting Goods, Neiman Marcus, J. Crew, J.C. Penney, Brooks Brothers True Religion, GNC Holdings, Lucky Brand, and Ascena Retail Group (the parent company of Lane Bryant and Ann Taylor) have all filed bankruptcies this year and have shuttered many of their stores. This has of course reduced the number of malls tenants, and with months of shutdowns, tenants also haven’t paid rent, leaving mall owners cash strapped.

What should have been the cornerstone of the next phase of the American mall has found its dreams deferred, and that is a quite literal assessment. The supersized American Dream Mall in East Rutherford, NJ was seen as the next frontier for the American mall. The American Dream mall was in development for a decade and was a 5-billion-dollar project.  The mall was set to boast entertainment offerings, which included an indoor water park, an amusement park, an NHL regulation size ice rink, an indoor snow park, with around 450 retailers were set to open by spring 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic put a dent in the American Dream mall’s plans.

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The hope for the American Dream Mall is that it is an A class mall. An A class malls houses luxury brands–Bulgari, car dealerships like Tesla, and tech stores like Apple. B class malls are run-of-the-mill types mall that would be anchored by stores like Sears, J.C. Penney, and Macy’s, and C and D type malls that are on the lower end of the economic spectrum. They were already struggling before coronavirus and shuttering their stores for months did not help. And the devolution of the middle class in the US is also not doing C and D malls any favors.

“Most C and D type malls were built when the middle class in America had the preponderance of spending power,” said Lee Holman, lead retail analyst at IHL Group, a global research and advisory firm for the retail industry. “We are talking about the 1960s through the early ‘90s. Any teen movie you saw coming out of the ‘80s and ‘90s was typically based in a shopping mall. What has happened is the transition within society where the middle class has shrunk. The people in the middle class who were diligent were moving into the upper middle class and upper class, and the diligent people in the lower class were trying to move into the middle class and work their way up, but those malls were built where the middle class worked, played, and lived. As the middle class shrunk, so did the traffic in these malls. With the advent of Walmart, Target, and other big box retailers along with Amazon, people didn’t have to go to malls to do shopping, and things got tough for C and D type malls.”

As malls try to reinvent themselves, it is possible that some C and D malls could become dark stores. A dark store is a store where customers do not come in and do actual physical shopping, but, rather, they are in a sense distribution centers that only deal with online orders for delivery. Customers aren’t coming in, but products are going out.

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The anchors for many of these malls, like Sears and J.C. Penney, are shrinking their fleet of stores and finding other large department store retailers to take their place seems impractical. Of course, there are options to use these spaces for other things.

Some malls have tried moving toward more experiential retail but have struggled in their ability to present customers with new experiences. However, experiential retail formats and turning malls into more community type centers could be a way for malls to rebound in the long-term. Malls have been hurt by the rise in e-commerce as more and more consumers are shopping from their laptops and handheld devices. Customers who still prefer in-store experiences rather than online shopping tend to be older. Millennials (born from 1981-1996) and Gen Z (born from 1997-2015) will shop more online, because, compared to previous generations, they socialize online, rather than socialize at a mall. For malls to survive, they must adapt to the way shoppers are living today.

“Malls have to reinvent themselves and repurpose mall space,” said Shawn Grain Carter, professor of fashion business management at FIT. “Malls need more restaurants. Millennials and Gen Z love to eat out. Malls need to become shopping centers and look at adding things like concert halls, spaces for art installations, and exercise studios. This will bring more customers inside the mall. If you want to think of the mall as a new 21st century public square, they need to find ways to appeal to the new generation as well as the older generation who might not be as tech savvy, and another way to do that would be adding health clinics inside of malls. All these things would create a multigenerational public square that would change the way people shop. Malls can become public squares for the community and it’s a thing malls need to think about as they ask why they still exist, and go beyond just shopping.”

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Despite consumers shift toward more online shopping, Grain Carter believes that in a world with a COVID-19 vaccine, people will want to go back to malls because there is pent up demand for in-person human interaction. Because the right to in-person interaction was taken away from people in such a stark way, people now love the idea of doing things in-person. Retailers will still have to look at integrating their omnichannel strategy more successfully. One of the most successful pivots that has come out of the pandemic is curbside pick-up. Customers could order things online, and if it was available at a local retailer, they could pick up there in-person. This became a key revenue driver for retailers during the early reopening phases before they could let customers inside stores once again.

“Malls will have to completely reinvent themselves, offer real reasons to come, entertainment, other services, anything but what they are doing now,” he said. “Also, well over 50 percent of them will not survive the next six months, and that is all depending on a vaccine.  Without a vaccine, then maybe 25 percent will survive. People have tried more online shopping, and are discovering just like with offices, you really don’t have to be physically present. Amazon is getting so good at reverse logistics that even returns are a joy. This makes it easy to compete with a boring retail store, which is what most have become.”

Robert Conrad, the Associate Chair of Fashion Merchandising at LIM College, believes that it was long overdue that malls began rethinking how they use some of their space. Customers want more experiences rather than things, and malls that have or can figure out how to make retail more experiential are poised to survive. According to Conrad, “It’s very easy to imagine a future where 1/3 of the number of malls in America go away. This country has too much space devoted to retail, and mall owners will have to think about how to utilize this space into other things.”

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While middle market retailers are struggling to comeback, the luxury sector is still going strong. According to Conrad that is because, “The stock market is doing well, despite the tumult of this past year. The people who make their living in the ‘work from home’ economy, they might’ve been inconvenienced, but they are still making a good living and shop at luxury stores.”

Although Conrad believes people will return to malls, he doesn’t see mall traffic ever returning to late nineties levels when they were at their peak. Malls that survive can still evolve and thrive, but many will be left looking like “Scooby Doo” ghost towns.

Leslie Ghize, vice president of Tobe The Donneger Group, a retail a consulting and strategy firm, is also in agreement that the market for malls was over saturated. “We have been and are oversaturated in retail, especially in the United States,” Ghize said. “Even before coronavirus, there needed to be an adjustment to that. Coronavirus just pushed the situation further. We have a lot of real estate in retail and it was too heavy to hold itself up.”

Ghize believes that malls will go in two different directions. First, most malls won’t make it. Some malls will transform into real estate players for businesses that need a lot space, like wellness businesses, fitness centers, and food concept stores. High-end stores could start creating elevated types of concepts, like live events and experiences, that are more exclusive and aspirational than a classic US mall.

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Secondly, for malls to help turn themselves around, Ghize believes mall owners need to get more creative and flexible in their lease agreements. “For the smaller, direct-to-consumer, and boutique brands that are on the come up, leasing retail space in a mall under the traditional lease structure is a big commitment, and not one young brands would want to make,” she said. “Mall owners need to give opportunities to smaller, up-and-coming brands that don’t have a lot of brick-and-mortar space yet. Outdoor malls and open-air malls will be better off in the short-term, but in general malls aren’t as appealing a concept anymore.”

Ghize also said that for malls to be at their best operational capacity, at least one third of the malls currently in the US would have to close. While the idea that malls are just dreary and dead is an over exaggeration, there is no question that malls will never return to their former glory. However, through downsizing, experiential retail, and getting younger, boutique style brands as tenants, there is still hope for malls. The start of a real comeback will probably take a COVID-19 vaccine. Let’s keep fingers crossed for 2021.

Kristopher Fraser

Will the Election of Joe Biden Have a Positive Effect on Fashion and Retail Industries?

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The 2020 presidential election is finally over. And though many US and global citizens are celebrating the results, there is still much uncertainty about the future. US consumers have a lot to be concerned about.  

The US economy is still in a deep recession. COVID-19 infections are on the rise, in fact, many US states are in a second wave of COVID-19 infections. And of course, climate disaster is ever present with small woodland fire outbreaks still occurring in California and flooding in some US states.

Still, with the Biden/Harris win many folks are hopeful that the president and vice-president elect will over time turn things around. That said; this new normal is causing some dramatic changes in life and culture in the US. And perhaps, that most dramatic adjustments are happening in the fashion and retail industries.

Fashion is a part of our daily existence, whether it is acknowledged or not. Unlike art that might hang in museums, live stage performances or cinema, we live our lives in clothes, or as some might call it, wearable art. (A nod to Stanley Tucci’s line in “The Devil Wears Prada.)

The COVID-19 pandemic is changing all of that. With many people working from home and cultural events and entertainment venues shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is little need to purchase new garments. This set of events has been catastrophic for retail and fashion industries. However, there could be a turnaround with the new administration.

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With Donald Trump’s election in 2016, there was a dramatic surge in market trading on Wall Street. And luxury brands, particularly those owned by multinational holding companies LVMH and Kering Group saw their profits increase during the beginning of the Trump administration. Even the COVID-19 pandemic has not had a deleterious effect of many global luxury fashion brands. According to the crfashionbook.com, “despite the coronavirus pandemic raging on in the United States, it looks like luxury brands aren’t going anywhere with both fashion conglomerates LVMH and Kering Group reporting strong third-quarter earnings this year.”

And according to many financial pundits, Trump’s massive tax cuts to corporations and wealthy Americans will re-invigorate the US economy if he had been re-elected. However, there are others that have a different perspective of the newly elected Biden/Harris ticket.

According to a survey conducted by Glossy/Modern Retail, as reported in jingdaily.com, “46.8 percent of those polled agreed that the US economy would improve with a Biden win. Only 12.9 percent expressed the same confidence for Trump.” The survey also found that a Biden presidency would also improve China/US trade relations.

Jing Daily also revealed that 20 top American fashion designers—Jason Wu, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, and Michael Kors—supported the Biden campaign. Even Supermodel Karlie Kloss, who is married to Jared Kushner’s brother, put her support behind Joe Biden.

Consider that Biden has promised a tax rate increase on the wealthy and corporations from the current 21% to 28%, which the corporate elite will not be happy about. If you are diehard trickle-down economics advocate, you might believe this Biden tax increase would be bad for business, and ultimately slow the trickle down to consumers.

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Trickle-down economics based their economic theories on the writings of Nobel Prize winner in Economics Milton Friedmann. Friedmann was a distinguished University of Chicago economist for many years. He believed that less government, less regulations and tax cuts would stimulate economic growth. These theorems were the basics of Reaganomics which led the US into an era of deregulation, unparalleled economic growth, particularly for corporate elites, and the defunding of many government programs. The “Greed is Good” moniker came out the Reagan administration.

This era of deregulation, tax cuts, and government program defunding slanted economic growth toward the wealthy. Reagan’s economic projection was supposed to be good for all US citizens because eventually wealth would trickle down to everyone. That did not happen. While there was substantial economic growth during the Reagan era, the average US consumers began to see their wages stagnating. In fact, when adjusted for the cost of living, the average American consumer has not seen their wages increase in over 30 years.

With less disposable income, US consumers relied on credit cards and lots of department store sales to purchase desired garments. And while that worked for over 25 years, we are now in a different era.

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The fashion and retail markets were on a downward spiral before the COVID-19 pandemic. Many major department stores—Barney’s, Lord & Taylor, Sears, Fred Segal, JCPenny, Neiman Marcus, and others—had declared bankruptcy or restructured their debt before the current health pandemic, COVID-19 has only made it worse.

So, what concerns the fashion and retail markets is if the Biden presidency will have a positive, negative, or stagnating effect? Luxury analyst Erwan Rambourg believes that luxury markets will not decrease if there is a Biden win. “Given the amount of wealth in the US, the underdeveloped nature of the luxury market relative to that wealth and the recent shift towards a mentality that says it’s appropriate to reward oneself,” argues luxury anylist Erwan Rambourg. “It’s clear to me that, taking a long view, America’s luxury market has good days ahead.”

Stephen Lamar, CEO of American Apparel & Footwear Association detailed on a Twitter video that, “holiday is the most important shopping day of the year, we put a lot of effort behind it. Its longer, its more omnichannel, where there is a better integration between brick and mortar and online activities and we are really hoping it will be a good year, though its been a really challenging year all along.” And when it comes to the Biden presidency, Lamar contends, “We think a Biden administration will probably be more process-based, more predictable … We’re hoping that they’ll be able to recognize that these global supply chains create a lot of jobs in the United States.”

What will mark a turnaround for US consumer when it comes to purchasing garments is how Biden will handle the COVID-19 pandemic. Studies show that when consumers visit brick and mortar stores, they tend to purchase more product. In 2019, First Insight Report found that “71 percent of all shoppers surveyed spent $50 or more when shopping in-store. This compares to only 54 percent of respondents spending more than $50 when shopping online,” as reported in Forbes. And in-store shoppers are more influenced by impulse buying, 89% of women and 78% of men, compared to online shoppers, 77% of women and 67% of men, also found in the 2019 First Insight Report.

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Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, online shopping has increased. Online shopping still does not outpace brick and mortar shopping. Remember, online spending is deftly influenced by algorithms imbedded in your computer’s cookies and retail stores algorithms; only regurgitating searches you’ve already used before. When you go to a brick-and-mortar store you are not influenced by online sites’ algorithms. You are free to look at everything in the store.

Depending on how President-elect Joe Biden handles the second wave of COVID-19 infections, departments and stores and consumer will open their doors to more consumers and consumers will feel safe among larger crowds, and will not have to wait on long lines to enter stores. And with the Biden/Harris election, most US citizens are celebrating their win. Studies prove that happy people tend to spend more money and spend their money more wisely than people are sad or depressed. A 2016 article on psychsocialonline.com states that happy people often spend more money, but what makes them happiest is spending money on others. And with this Biden/Harris win the retail industry is hoping that consumer spending will increase during the holiday season, the season of giving. 

Only time will tell if the Biden presidency will be good for fashion and the retail industry. However, studies show that when folks are happy, one of the ways joy is expressed is by shopping. If the partying in the streets, celebrating the Biden/Harris win are any indication of the mood of the country, department stores better increase their inventory!!

—William S. Gooch

The Perfect Home Office

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Wasn’t this supposed to be over by now? We were supposed to be back in our offices, getting ready for the holidays just like we were this time last year.  2019 feels like 40 years ago. But there’s no point in wallowing as almost of us will be working from home for the near future. A lot of companies are considering making the change permanent as everyone is feeling the pinch and corporate office space is not cheap. So, now a lot of folks are creating a home office/workspace. But how?

Have no fear, Fashion Reverie is here! We have curated a bunch of great ideas on how to make your home office comfortable, functional, and chic. Money-saving tip; all these purchases should be deductible on your taxes! Check with your accountant.

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Ergonomic Chair

One of the first things you need when creating a comfortable home office is a good chair. The chair you sit in can have a considerable impact on your overall health. And more to the point, who wants to be uncomfortable all day? This Modway articulate ergonomic mesh office chair doesn’t just support your back; it will look good in your home and is affordably priced.

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Standing Desk Converter

One thing that the pandemic has really done is have consumers come off their diets and  gain weight. Snacking due to boredom, all the gyms are closed, and even that little bit of exercise people get walking around the mall is gone! But we need to keep active. One easy way is to get a standing desk converter. For a few hours a day, perhaps in 30-minute increments based on your fitness level, all that’s required  is standing up! You might think it’s a small thing, but little things add up.

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Wall Outlet Extender

So, you’ve chosen your home office and suddenly discover the room you’ve picked has exactly two outlets. Time to invest in a good outlet extender, not just because we all know the horror of realizing we unplugged our phone and never plugged it back in, but because overloading outlets can create shorts that fry our laptops and start fires! This extender is a multi-function USB Wall Outlet: 2 USB fast charging ports, 3-sided power strip, with 6 adapter spaced outlets, and LED night light around the edges.

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Door Sign

Working from home has created some tense moments. Not only is everyone having to deal with being together, All the time!! However, carving out moments to have a private Zoom call with your boss or colleagues can be difficult. None of us can forget when a man, who was being interviewed live on BBC Television, unleased an obscenity-laced tirade on his teenage son when he walked into his office. An easy way to ensure privacy is a door sign from Kichwit. The door sign moves easily between “Do Not Disturb” “Welcome Please Knock” or “Out Of Office.” Held into place by magnets, they won’t move until they are manually changed.

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Ring Light

Having to connect with our colleagues via Zoom or WebX, it can be disturbing to realize how ghastly the blue light of our screens can make us look. Not only that, but often the light can be very weak. Between the blue making you look sickly, and being hard to see, it doesn’t make a good impression! This clip-on ring light from Oternal is an inexpensive way to brighten up your Zoom appearance. Rechargeable through a USB port, it easily clips onto a laptop or phone to create a more flattering appearance on screen.

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Collapsible Green Screen Background

One of the major drawbacks of working from home is having to share our spare with spouses who are also working from home and children who are distance learning. If you live in a small space, sometimes you will have no choice but to have people moving around in the background. The problem is this can be extremely distracting to clients and colleagues, but what can be done? A green screen, that’s what!

This collapsible green screen attaches to your office chair, blocks out distractions behind you, and lets you choose your background. You can even amuse your coworkers by joining a conference call from the deck of the Starship Enterprise!

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Sun Lamp

As if 2020 hasn’t already been a difficult year, many experts are predicting, as we continue our march into winter, Seasonal Affective Disorder will collide with pandemic depression. An easy way to combat this is with a sun lamp. A sun lamp, sometimes called a light-therapy box, mimics natural sunlight.  It is believed that introducing sunlight can increase serotonin levels which helps reduce anxiety and depression.

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Plants

Adding a plant to your home office can remind you of the outdoors and really improve your mood, which is especially important as winter closes in. They can even create better air quality by removing toxins.  Fashion Reverie recommends either the Snake plant or an African Violet.  Snake plants don’t require much attention beyond water and minimal light. Just be careful what kind you get —some varieties can grow several feet high. African Violets can add a wonderful pop of color to your office. They do need light, but lamps will do fine.

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Wall Art

Now is the perfect time to indulge in a beautiful piece of wall art to decorate your home office.  Redbubble has thousands of images available in a variety of styles from posters to tapestries and more! It’s almost impossible not to find something you love at any price point. You may even find yourself overwhelmed with all the choices. But a beautiful piece of art that you love will make you happier and more productive. No rule says you can only buy one!

—Cameron Grey Rose

How Serious is the Fashion Industry About Upcycling?

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Sustainability has been the bubbling buzz word in the fashion industry for a few years and is gaining traction. As weary as some consumers might be of hearing about sustainability, there’s a friendly reminder that there is an actual doomsday clock for saving the planet from almost irreversible environmental destruction.

While sustainability continues to be the must-have and must-do thing in the fashion industry, upcycling has become increasingly popular. Upcycling is the creative reuse of transforming byproducts, waste materials, previously used, or unwanted products into something of new quality and artistic value.

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Luxury Italian fashion house Miu Miu, the “little sister” of the Prada Group, recently released a collection of upcycled vintage pieces. Miuccia Prada, the designer for Miu Miu, was one of the first major luxury designers to hop on the sustainability train and has been a champion of creating more eco-friendly designs. Prada recently launched the Prada Re-Nylon regenerated nylon project which reimagines the iconic Prada nylon bags in a sustainable re-nylon fabrication.

Prada’s commitment to sustainability has caused a domino effect. Luxury brand Rianna + Nina recently released their Kendima collection, a line of dresses made from upcycled tablecloths from the ‘40s and ‘50s. The products were handmade in the brand’s Berlin atelier, and has been well received on matchesfashion.com, which is carrying the line.

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Designer Shie Lyu, who had to relocate from New York to China during the COVID-19 pandemic, thought she would have had a difficult time creating a collection in China where she’d yet to connect with anyone in the local industry. But it was the glory of upcycling that saved her collection. The designer created a series of gorgeous, beaded flapper-style dresses that were made of material acquired from leftover materials from previous projects at Chinese factories. This upcycling process made the collection incredibly affordable to produce.

However, Lyu has made it clear that her end goal isn’t to create a 100 percent sustainable brand, but, rather, she was getting resourceful during the COVID-19 lockdown. This begs the question, is the fashion industry serious about sustainability and upcycling, or is this just a trend for the moment?

 “Greenwashing” has unfortunately become an issue in the fashion industry, where fashion brands give the impression their brands are sustainable, when that is quite the contrary. H&M has been considered one of the guiltiest greenwashing megabrands. H&M has a network of 4000 stores with plans to add thousands of more stores in the future. While this growth stands to bring in more revenue for the company, producing clothes to fill all these stores, no matter how sustainable they try to make them, comes at an environmental cost.

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ReMake, a non-profit fashion company, reported that 80 percent of discarded textiles are globally incinerated or landfill bound. Rather than letting their discarded materials go to waste, why doesn’t H&M create their own sustainable collections?

In October, H&M did take at least one step in the right direction of upcycling and sustainability. Their Stockholm store launched a program where customers can transform used garments into one of three different clothing items.

Image courtesy of H&M

Customers can bring in any garment they don’t want, which will be cleaned and then put into a machine called Looop. The machine disassembles the product and shreds it into fibers that are used to make a new garment with options including a sweater, a baby blanket, or a scarf, all for a very modest fee of $11 to $16. H&M says its goal by 2030 is to have all its products made of completely sustainable materials. The company has also launched a garment collecting program where they give customers a discount on new clothes when they bring in unwanted clothes.

The issue with a lot of fast fashion is the materials used are often synthetic, which can’t be easily recycled. Fast fashion megabrand Zara, in their quest to become eco-friendlier, has said that by 2025 all cotton, linen, and polyester they use will be organic, sustainably sourced, or recycled.

Despite fast fashion’s efforts to curtail their environmental footprint, the 2015 documentary “The True Cost” exposed the problems fast fashion causes by creating mass amounts of new products in weekly production, in addition to creating inhumane working conditions for workers. The environmental cost of fast fashion is also affecting the quality of life for garment workers in Bangladesh and Cambodia. While the price of clothing has continued to decrease, the environmental costs continue to surmount. This causes us to question if H&M and Zara’s steps are sufficient, or just small bandages on a larger problem these megabrands have yet to address?

Luxury brands like Chanel have even come out with sustainability plans, such as the Chanel Mission 1.5 plan which involves upcycling cast-off wood chips to create biodegradable packaging for their fragrances and cosmetics. The company’s sustainability plan also targets things like reducing carbon emissions, shifting to renewable electricity, and financing climate change adaptation by working with communities most impacted by climate change.

While cost has been considered a factor in whether companies decide to become more sustainable, upcycling is actually a very effective way to cut costs. This is effective for both younger brands, as in the case of Shie Lyu, and large corporations who are looking at cost effective maneuvers to help their bottom line.

Some brands are even building their business around upcycling. Denim brand RE/DONE’s entire business model is upcycling jeans. The Los Angeles-based fashion company owes their brand ethos to vintage Levi’s, which they repurpose into new garments. All of their pieces are one-of-a-kind, building a strong following in both the womenswear and menswear markets.

Image courtesy of Beyond Retro

Vintage retailer Beyond Retro has also found brilliant ways to avoid letting anything go to waste. Their buyers search through thousands of vintage pieces, while only very few make it to the sales floor. As for the rest? The fabrics are upcycled and turned into brand new products based on fashion forecasts. The pieces are also very affordable, making shopping sustainably very accessible to consumers shopping at all price points.

One of the founding fathers of sustainable fashion is Patagonia. The fashion brand is considered one of the companies that paved the way for the ethical fashion space beginning in 1993 when the outdoor wear brand started using recycled plastic bottles to make their garments. This recycled plastic is used to create fleeces for many Patagonia outerwear pieces. If you own a Patagonia item that can’t be repaired, it can be returned to a Patagonia store to be reused and recycled.

Upcycling goes beyond just ready-to-wear. Berlin-based upcycling clothing brand Anekdot crafts underwear and lingerie using materials sourced from production leftovers, deadstock, and end of lines. Their company also helps empower women in Poland and throughout Europe by employing them to make the intimate wear instead of outsourcing production for cheaper labor.

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Longevity is one of the key goals of sustainability, and such is the core mission of Los Angeles-based brand Christy Dawn. Every Christy Dwan garment is made in Los Angeles using deadstock fabric to reduce their environmental footprint. The brand also sews a limited number of pieces for each look, each one numbered. This severely reduces the chance of catching someone at a party in the same dress as you.

British-based Fanfare is considered one of the UK’s pioneers in sustainability and is also a major proponent of “slow fashion.” The brand only launches one collection per year and encourages consumers to use their clothes for as long as possible. They also help prolong the life of used clothes by redesigning them into new pieces. The brand upcycles vintage pieces and turns them into new one-of-a-kind pieces.

Images courtesy of FANFARE

While there are still issues in the fashion industry, like greenwashing, in the long run, upcycling and sustainability look like the most monetarily efficient and in-demand direction of the future. As customers continue to become more educated about products and the environmental costs, they are asking for brands to step up and offer better quality and more eco-friendly products. Sustainability and upcycling are moving beyond buzz words, to the inevitability of the future. Say hello to a greener future and a greener fashion industry.

—Kristopher Fraser

Goodbye Karyn

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“There are some who bring a light so great to the world that even after they have gone the light remains.”—Hoda Kotb     

One of things I will always remember about Karyn Collins is her beautiful smile accompanied by her raucous laughter. Never one to rest on her many laurels, Karyn Collins continuously primed her craft, always striving for excellence. She required that of herself, and she also required that of the many journalism students she taught at Rutgers, Seton Hall, Bloomfield University, and other New Jersey universities.

It is with a heavy and sad heart that Fashion Reverie acknowledges the homegoing of someone so full of energy, creativity, professionalism, and kindness. Karyn Collins death has been a complete shock to Fashion Reverie’s staff.

Karyn Dawn Collins started writing for fashionreverie.com in 2013. We sealed her employment with a contract and a handshake.

Karyn Collins at NYFW in 2005. Image courtesy of zimbio.com

While employed at fashionreverie.com as our editor-at-large, Karyn penned several important articles for the site. From her article about rising artist talent Kehinde Wiley to covering Ebony Fashion Fair’s 50th Anniversary to her New York Fashion Week reviews, and articles and interviews with ABT principal dancer Misty Copeland, every article was written with attention to detail, great wit, and passion. In fact, it was Karyn that introduced fashionreverie.com to Misty Copeland’s publicist, cementing an on-going relationship.

Of all the many gifts that Karyn Collins brought to Fashion Reverie, perhaps, the gift that shined the brightest was her professionalism. Her submissions always came in on time, needed very little editing, and helped usher Fashion Reverie into that rarefied editorial world of tight, nuanced, well-researched journalism.

Though Karyn had not written for Fashion Reverie for about four years due to her teaching responsibilities, she informed me that when time permitted, she would return. Unfortunately, that never happened. Karyn Dawn Collins died from a short fight with cancer on October 28, 2020.

Our good intentions and condolences go out to her friends and family.  You are missed and can never, ever be replaced. Karyn was 56 years old.

—William S. Gooch

Fall 2020 Boot Roundup

Image glowsly.com

The temperature is dropping and the leaves are falling, which means it’s time to boot up. In this year of uncertainty, a great fashion wardrobe is the one thing you can be sure of and it can help elevate your mood. As you get ready to add to your fall footwear collection, Fashion Reverie has some great options to keep in mind for boots.

Image courtesy of Karla Otto PR

Brother Vellies by Pyer Moss Tall Mamba Boot $1225

Brother Vellies creative director Aurora James and Pyer Moss creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond teamed up for one of the most awaited shoe collections of the season. The standout pieces were these boots designed in collaboration with exonerated artist Richard Phillips. The boots are an ode to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, whose gospel music was a fusion of gospel and what would later be called rock n’ roll. Let your style rock on in these boots!

Image courtesy of schutz-shoes.com

Schutz Monah Bootie $198

Fringe continues to be a big trend this fall. To up the ante, these boots also come with a chain accent for those who live to accessorize. This shoe literally sways with every step, so you can even make a fashion moment on the windiest of days.

Image courtesy of stevemaden.com

Crocodile Wear Winter Plus Size Western Mid-Cal Cowboy Pointed Toe High Heels Boots $131.99

It’s Legally Blonde’s Elle Woods meets western chic with Crocodile Wear’s pink western boots. For the Barbie girl look those who just love to look pretty in pink, look no further than these boots. These boots could pair well with a fall skirt or even your cowgirl hat. Let these be the new statement piece in your footwear collection.

Image courtesy of vincecamuto.com

Kaitlyn Pan Paige Slim Fit Over-The-Knee $109.99

Let’s get thigh high in these chic over the knee boots. Kaitlyn Pan is known for comfortable, easy to wear shoes, which is not often what you’d expect from a heeled boot. Believe it or not, it is possible to have both comfort and style. These boots will also pair well with a fall trench coat in brown or beige.

Image courtesy of ysl.com

Saint Laurent Opyum Ankle Boots in Alligator-Embossed Patent Leather w/ Black Heel $1795

For the logo lovers, the heel of this shoe is the famed YSL logo. These black ankle boots can pair with almost anything in your wardrobe and take your outfit to new heights (literally).

Image courtesy of giuseppezanotti.com

Giuseppe Zanotti Pigalle $895

You’re not stepping into fall right without a good Chelsea boot. Also, forget the rules about not wearing white after Labor Day. What are seasons in these turbulent times anyways? These white leather Chelsea boots can pair with almost any outfit in your wardrobe and are perfectly comfortable for a fall stroll.

Image courtesy of zappos.com

Harley Davidson Kenwood $133.95

Whether you are stomping through the fall leaves or off to exercise your right to protest, these combat boots are ready. These boots can add some edge to your fall wardrobe and send the message that you are not to be messed with. The breathable mesh lining provides adequate comfort, as well.

Image courtesy of Tory Burch

Tory Burch Lila Embroidered Over-The-Knee Scrunch Boot $748

These over-the-knee Tory Burch boots are all about the details for the woman who isn’t afraid to go maximalist for the season. The pointed tips are gold, the color is described as baked terracotta, the flowers are hand embroidered. These shoes are sure to turn heads wherever you are strutting your stuff.

Image courtesy of Overland

Overland Angelina Wool-Lined Calfskin Boots with Fox Fur Trim $465

For the fur lovers, these fox trim boots have luxury written all over them. The calfskin also makes for durability. The mid-size shaft will also work well for when you are wearing leggings or skinny jeans, because of course you want to show that fur trim off.

—Kristopher Fraser

Political Power Dressing: What Fashion Might Say about Female Candidates’ Political Success

Images courtesy of harpersbazaar.com

There is power in a good outfit. Before people learn anything about us, the first thing they see is our appearance. Whether you are a true fashionista or just someone who isn’t concerned about clothes, some contend we are what we wear.

Beginning in the 20th century, the wardrobe of women in the political sphere became a talking point. Eleanor Roosevelt, who is considered by many historians to be one of the most influential First Ladies in history, was well documented in elaborate evening gowns, fur stoles, and fascinator hats. First Lady Jackie Kennedy is considered one of America’s greatest fashion icons. During the Obama years, First Lady Michelle Obama brought a slate of American designers to prominence and furthered their household name status including Jason Wu, Derek Lam, and Monique Lhuillier.

Image courtesy of youtube.com

When Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton made her 2016 bid for president, she enlisted the help of Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour to assist with her wardrobe choices. Ralph Lauren silk pants suits became one of Clinton’s major staples. Senator Kamala Harris, the Democratic vice-presidential nominee, has also found her choices under a microscope, including a pair of Timberland boots she recently wore on the campaign trail that made waves for helping her look more relatable.

When Sarah Palin, the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, was selected by presidential nominee John McCain to be his running mate, Palin’s wardrobe was completely revamped. Their campaign reportedly spent $150,000 on campaign wardrobe with pieces from top department stores Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. Palin went from being the little-known governor of Alaska to a vice-presidential nominee with a tailor-made image. It was an image of aspiration and political power.

For women in politics, they must also think about the power of their fashion choices, because they have a way to send messages and move conversation in a way that transcends the good old boys club of elected office. If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win the election on November 3, for the first time ever a woman will hold the office of vice president. This also means that Kamala Harris will be setting the modern framework for the image of future female politicians to come, and image, of course, involves fashion choices.

So far, Harris has been the mother of non-invention. Whereas First Ladies are often meant to make a statement with their clothes, and even Hillary Clinton had her entire image revamped to run for president, Harris has opted to keep it as simple as possible. At the vice-presidential debate she opted for an all-black ensemble that was elevated with a pearl necklace and pearl earrings. With every move she makes being under such strict scrutiny, her clothes reveal little for the press and observers to read into. This could be interpreted as  a smart tactic on her part.

Image courtesy of vogue.com

By contrast, Dr. Jill Biden, the professor, former Second Lady of the United States, and wife of presidential candidate Joe Biden, recently made a less than subtle statement in a pair of Stuart Weitzman boots that had word “VOTE” sprawled across them. The boots were completely sold out on Stuart Weitzman’s website within minutes of photos of her wearing them.

Jill Biden also made another statement at the first presidential debate when she wore a fringe dress by Latina designer Gabriela Hearst. Hearst recently won the 2020 CFDA Award for Womenswear Designer of the Year. In a way, it was a subtle nod by Jill Biden acknowledging that Latinos are one of the fastest growing economic and political voting blocks in the US.

Image courtesy of interviewmagazine.com

If there’s a Latina in politics whose fashion choices happen to make almost as much noise as her legislative agenda, it’s New York Congresswoman Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez (AOC). Ocasio-Cortez first made headlines for defeating incumbent Joe Crowley, who was once seen as a likely successor to Nancy Pelosi for Speaker of the House. Since then, she’s not only advocated for one of the most liberal political agendas in modern history, but she also managed to quickly earn the love of fashionistas as well.

In a 2018 Interview Magazine article, Ocasio-Cortez was photographed in a Gabriela Hearst suit, and what made headlines from this interview was the $3000 price tag on the outfit, while some tried to say her fighting for the working class shouldn’t afford her the privilege of wearing pricey designer suits. Ocasio-Cortez quickly clapped back on Twitter saying:

  1. a) The alt-right doesn’t seem to understand the concept of magazine shoots
  2. b) You don’t get to keep the clothes, duh
  3. c) I don’t “pretend” to fight for a Living Wage & Medicare for All. I do it
  4. d) Get used to me slaying lewks because I am an excellent thrift shopper

AOC would later spark similar controversy for showing up in a $580 dress on an episode of The View. She quickly reminded her critics she rents, borrows, and thrifts her clothes, all of which are environmentally sustainable options.

thenewsdaily.com

The fashion industry hasn’t really embraced First Lady Melania Trump due to the left-of-center views of most fashion editors and designers, but that hasn’t stopped her from making headlines with her fashion choices, good or bad. At the 2016 RNC convention, the white Roksanda dress that Melania Trump wore for her speech sold out in record time on Moda Operandi. However, Melania’s biggest misstep would come when she wore a Zara coat that said, “I Really Don’t Care, Do U?” while visiting a detention center for migrant children. The outfit would land her in hot water for what many viewed as her actual feelings toward detained migrants. It was a reminder that female political figures have to watch how their fashion choices speak, whether their clothes literally have a message spelled out or the message is subtle.

Image courtesy of vanityfair.com

Kellyanne Conway, former counselor to Donald Trump, even proved that she, too, could move fashion conversation. While her fashion choices were often considered less than favorable and admirable, Conway became one of the most memed women in America after she wore a $3600 Gucci coat adorned with feline buttons to Donald Trump’s inauguration. The red, white, and blue color-blocked coat was considered quite on message and truly patriotic, despite Gucci being an Italian brand. While Gucci has not opted to openly align themselves with Kellyanne Conway, any press is good press.

Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-American Muslim in Congress, has found the spotlight on her due to her very left of center political positions, but also for her modest fashion choices. As women look for ways to dress up in less skin-revealing clothing while still preserving their religious and cultural beliefs in style, Omar has found herself an inspiration to many. She even landed the cover of Vogue Arabia, cementing her status as both a political and a fashion star. Omar’s choice to wear her hijab on the House floor, which defied a rule that’s been around for almost two centuries, sent the message that she is here to work to lift bans on not just fashion choices, but also anything that can infringe upon human rights and civil liberties.

Image courtesy of voguearabia.com

With Hollywood red carpets on pause due to the COVID-19 pandemic, celebrities are currently out of the spotlight, giving way for political figures becoming the new go-to source from which the public takes their fashion cues. “There is such a platform for women in politics and their fashion choices given the current climate right now,” said Lauren Rothman, a fashion consultant who works with women running for office. “Celebrities have taken a backseat to frontpage news and politics is at the forefront. It’s a unique rare time that the fashion of so many women in politics is on display. When everyone is looking for something to talk about, it is a great time to get noticed whether you are a designer who’s dressing a political figure or a political figure who is discovering their style while in office or running for office.”

The idea of image-making has become more ingrained as part of the platform for women running for office in the past twelve years. Fashion can be used to communicate messages, like in the case of Jill Biden’s vote boots. While female legislators can’t be expected to be dressed in high fashion the likes of First Ladies like Michelle Obama and Melania Trump, there is now opportunity to transform the way working women dress.

“Dressing women who are running for office continues to be an entire growth area for the fashion industry,” Rothman said. “These are people who the everyday person looks up to. The budget of a public official isn’t that high, so you don’t see a lot of people running for office in designer clothes, and I don’t think that’s going to change. There needs to be more collections available for working women to curate a wear to work wardrobe. How do you dress when your workplace is Capitol Hill and The Whitehouse? As designers start curating collections to dress these kinds of working women this will leave room for designers to create entirely new collections and for emerging designers to design new collections to fit this market. Affordability is key and things to need be accessible.”

The wardrobes of women in politics will continue to be conversation pieces. It is a reminder that fashion has the power to move the needle in cultural conversation, and even be a part of changing the world. The future of political dressing is looking empowered, whether it be senators opting for muted colors, so you focus more on their policies, or First Ladies flaunting their fiercest high fashions. Dress for what you want in life, including the office you’re aiming for.

—Kristopher Fraser

New York International Bridal Week Fall 2021 Pre-coverage

Image courtesy of nytimes.com

Are digital fashion weeks working? Well, the verdict is still out on the effectiveness of this new approach to fashion week. While some fashion industry professionals feel that digital presentations are a waste of time, others see the cost savings and the potential expansive inclusiveness of digital fashion week.

That said; it appears that because of the current health pandemic, digital fashion weeks may become the industry’s new normal. And New York International Bridal Week has come on board.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York International Bridal Week switched to a digital format last April. Though it was a pale comparison to bridal shows that had runway presentation, it did go on.

Things have not changed very much since last April. New York International Bridal Week will again use a digital presentation format. And as more and more bridal designers are forced to adopt digital presentations one wonders about the effectiveness of this new format. Like New York Fashion Week and other global fashion weeks, it is important to see collections up close and personal. It is next to impossible to experience how a garment moves watching a video or browsing through a look book. However, right now that is all industry professionals have.

We must soldier on until this global health crisis passes and though this will never go back to the normal of yesterday, perhaps, the new normal will have some shades of the old normal. It’s necessary!!

—William S. Gooch

New York Fashion Week Digital Version, Success or Failure?

Image courtesy of vogue.com

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) spring 2021 season was unlike any other NYFW.  The global COVID-19 pandemic, which has transformed the way the entire world does business, drastically changed what was a standard of global fashion weeks, runway shows.  This season fashion industry professionals had to make due with mostly digital presentations. That said; a few top fashion designers—Jason Wu and Christian Siriano—opted for runway shows. Rebecca Minkoff also staged a very well attended fashion week presentation on the rooftop of Spring Studios, what is typically the main venue for NYFW.

While there were conveniences to fashion week being mostly digital, like the ability to comfortably watch all the runway shows from your home computer, the glitz and glamour of NYFW, the fashion industry reunions and seeing colleagues, and the energy and excitement of a runway show were all gone. That said; what is foremost on industry professionals’ minds is how effective was this digital version of NYFW?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – SEPTEMBER 13: A view of the front row at the runway for Jason Wu – September 2020 during New York Fashion Week: The Shows at Spring Studios Terrace on September 13, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)

Many buyers in the industry were pleased at the convenience of getting to repeatedly watch the shows, giving them more latitude and more opportunity to identify their favorite looks. There was an almost unanimous consensus that it was nice to watch virtual shows during the appointed time slot , versus memories of runway shows being notoriously late. Showing digitally also allowed for fashion designers to take more creative freedom and be far more budget conscious.

Despite some of the pros of a digital version of NYFW, there were critics of this digital fashion week . Chris Lavish, global digital director of fashionweekonline.com, prior to this NYFW would view collections backstage. While he did attend several of the few in-person shows this season, it admittedly wasn’t the same for him.

Image courtesy of Gia Kuan

“We are no longer able to see the textures and fabrics the designers used,” Lavish said. “You cannot see the craftsmanship in the details through a screen. Showing digitally also didn’t allow for networking or meeting potential new clients in order to expand your business. Many businesses revolve around the show at fashion week, and there’s future business transactions taking place prior to and after the shows.”

Lavish also feels the few designers who showed were at an advantage because they got to bring in more VIPS, buyers, and influencers. “The physical shows definitely had more attention on them,” Lavish said. “Watching something through a screen, like a fashion show, is not the same as watching it in person. It’s similar to when you’re watching sports from the courtside seat and saying it’s the same as watching it on my couch in front of my television. There are just some things that need to happen in person.”

With members of the industry already thinking ahead to what NYFW fall 2021 season will be, Lavish is hoping that if fashion designers/brands take a mostly digital approach that fashion designers/brands incorporate virtual reality.  He’s also hoping there are more off-site shows in presentation style formats that will allow for crowd control while still following ­CDC guidelines.

Jason Wu spring 2021 image courtesy of moorevilletribune.com

There were others in the fashion industry who saw the digital approach to New York Fashion Week as a much-welcomed break from the hustle and bustle of running to 50-plus shows over the course of a week. Michelle Blasha, editor of LeHoarder, said, “I personally loved all the smaller socially distanced presentations and shows. It was definitely more cost effective than the million-dollar shows of the past. It also made it easier to connect with the brands and designers that are typically larger than life. As a blogger, it was definitely less pressure not having to plan out looks for months in advance, and it was great getting to watch from the comfort of my home. However, it also meant missed opportunities and connections … and ultimately lost revenue. I was lucky enough to attend Rebecca Minkoff’s rooftop presentation at Spring Studios this week and walking in felt like coming home.”

The scaled down fashion week also led to many of the big-name anchor designers declining to show or opting to show at later dates outside of the fashion week schedule. Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, Michael Kors, Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Prabal Gurung, and Tory Burch all opted out of participating in NYFW. However, this left room for smaller independent designers to shine.

While it was questionable as to whether or not a mostly digital version of NYFW could attract major attention from press and buyers, Roopa Patel, senior vice president and fashion director of Saks Fifth Avenue, Linda Fargo, senior vice president of the fashion office and store presentation at Bergdorf Goodman, and Sam Kershaw, buying director of Mr Porter, were some of the heavy hitters that confirmed their “attendance” of NYFW. Some buyers have even confirmed that they’ve successfully completed most of their spring 2021 buys from NYFW, meaning that more independent designers can be expected on sales floors next year.

Image courtesy of Getty Images

That said; some industry members were not happy with this digital version. A stylist who chose to remain anonymous intimated, “The way New York Fashion Week was done makes me feel like they might as well have cancelled it. This simply just isn’t the same. I had to find motivation just to attend the few in-person shows. I’m hoping by February they have at least returned to doing a presentation style format that can be shot for a digital video campaign and allow for a limited number of in-person guests.”

Despite the challenges the fashion industry has faced from coronavirus, it has adapted to its temporary normal. Digital NYFW might not have had the same sparkle and shine that attendees are used to, but there was still a chance for designers to showcase their collections in a creative way. There’s still hope for a return to the NYFW of yesteryear, so onward and upward!!

—Kristopher Fraser

Virtual Fashion May Erase Some Irritants from NYFW

Photo by WWD/Shutterstock (10555175e)

“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.” —John Maxwell

COVID19 had changed the way the entire globe is operating right now.  A lot of industries have taken massive hits. The fashion industry is experiencing huge losses and a shocking number of fashion brands and retail stores are going bankrupt. Just recently, Century 21 has been dropped by their insurers and, unable to get coverage, has announced its closing. 

New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is so important to the industry that it could not be canceled outright, but safety has demanded radical change. “It’s a very different fashion week in September. Not like we’ve never seen before. And, because of the pandemic, the industry is having to address the way they show the spring ‘21 collections,” said Steven Kolb, CEO at the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), to “Spectrum 1 News.”

The CFDA has opted for a virtual fashion week using a new online platform called Runway 360.  Ninety-five percent  of the designers who had planned to show at NYFW have committed to this change.

“I’m not quite sure how fashion week is going to roll out. Will I miss all the air-kissing and hugging? September Fashion Week was always like back to school. You see everyone,” said Fern Mallis, former CFDA director.

Will these changes become permanent? It’s impossible to say right now, but Fashion Reverie will acknowledge there are aspects to NYFW, as we knew it, that wasn’t so fabulous, and a virtual fashion could possibly eliminate them. Get ready for some truth bombs.

Image courtesy of Cameron Grey Rose

The late start of shows

Many fashion shows start late and we’re not talking about 10 or 15 minutes, some start over an hour late. The photograph above was taken on February 6th outside of Spring Studios while waiting for the Muzkin x Harbin 2020 show. The show was set to begin at 9 am. This photo was taken at 9:10 am when crowds still hadn’t been let inside, which means the show was going to start 45 minutes late!

There are a host of reasons why the shows are delayed but one big cause is the models. With venues so spread out during NYFW, models are often late to shows because they have shows booked on top of each other at venues, spread out over NYC. Also, if the models are not established, they cannot afford a car service, which means they are stuck taking public transportation which can delay their arrival.

Add to that, sometimes models are paid in clothes—called paid for trade—if they are paid at all.  If a paying job pops us, they will jump at it and not show up for the unpaid work, forcing organizers to scramble to replace them.  Just getting the models ready can take a long time. To save money, a lot of the production assistants are young, inexperienced volunteers from FIT (or other fashion schools), and they sometimes make mistakes that create problems.  The simple logistics of getting hundreds of people in and out of small spaces takes time, so as the day rolls on things get pushed back forcing everyone’s schedules off. 

If the shows are taped in advance the videos can simply be aired on a schedule (or watched when it’s convenient for the viewer).

Image courtesy of dailybeast.com

 Front row tyranny

One basic reality of fashion week, unless you are a buyer, an editor for a major magazine, or a celebrity, you won’t be sitting in the front row. How it works: after you RSVP for a show, you will receive an email confirming your attendance for that show.  Once you arrive, if you are lucky, you are assigned a seat. Sometimes you are placed in the standing section.

Right before the fashion starts, PR interns will ask standing room to move to the empty seats. The last-minute scoot forward can create big problems. Sometimes people will be moved up to the front row only to have the person who was assigned that seat show up. The person who was moved up now has no choice to go to the back row. Anna Wintour’s last-minute appearances plus any A-list guests she brings with her will automatically be seated in the front row regardless of who is forced to move.

If you have any social or industry standing, the first two rows are the only place where people seated will be included in pictures.  Above is a pic of Fashion Reverie’s Cameron Grey Rose in the third row at Taoray Taoray in September 2019.

Before his passing, Oscar de la Renta grew so weary of front row politics he would snake an extra-long runway through a room with exactly two rows and only close personal friends and the critical staff were invited.

Virtual fashion week means that everyone has a front row seat while viewing from their laptop or smartphone.

Image courtesy of fashionspot.com

NYFW burnout factor

Due to the extreme delays in scheduling, you will spend 90% of NYFW standing in line, waiting to get into venues or sprinting between shows. Many people complain that their feet hurt for DAYS after NYFW. Taxis are few and far between and good luck competing with two hundred people for the handful of Ubers available.  Journalists, buyers, models, and other industry professionals were forced to endlessly race all over the city. During the painfully warm month of September, you are dripping in sweat and packed like sardines at the shows.

Watching the shows from your couch suddenly sounds like heaven—it conserves time, energy, and you don’t have to worry about being crowded by other people.

Image courtesy of Vogue Business

The production costs

One of the dirty little secrets of the fashion industry  is that despite the appearance of glamour and wealth, most designers are BARELY earning enough to support themselves. The reality is the clothing alone seldom turns a profit and design houses must rely on accessories like purses, shoes, fragrances and cosmetics for their bread and butter.  According to Vogue Business, hosting a show at NYFW can cost anywhere from $125,000 to upwards of $300,000 with costs skyrocketing if you choose a unique venue.

That number does not include the production of runway samples.  Designers say showing at NYFW is critical for visibility but appraising a show’s return on investment is difficult.  Christian Sirano told Vogue Business, “I think when our investors go through the numbers, it’s really hard for them to see an actual return. There are ways to tell if a collection is more successful than another, but that doesn’t necessarily have to do with the show.”

Virtual shows may reduce or eliminate many of the costs of production, not only making brands more profitable but allowing smaller independent designers the ability to participate in NYFW.

Image courtesy of Air Charter Service Canada

NYFW’s Carbon Footprint

Hopefully, by the time this goes to print the California wildfires will be out and Hurricane Sally’s destruction will have been cleaned up and everyone in Mississippi and Alabama will have electricity again. Our planet is facing a dire crisis. Global warming has been dramatically changing weather patterns and producing deadly storms that are destroying entire ecosystems. This has been ignored for far too long and humanity is running out of time.

Another thing that cannot be ignored when you attend NYFW, the sheer volume of people who fly from Europe or Asia to attend the shows. According to the New York Times, buyers and retailers will fly nearly 12,000 miles every year to attend showrooms at fashion weeks. Travel to and from during NYFW produced the biggest carbon numbers of the four fashion capitals.  There are private airlines that cater exclusively to providing high-end travel to and from fashion weeks.

In July 2019, Stockholm simply canceled their fashion week due to ecological concerns. The bottom line is NYFW in its previous forms is simply not sustainable. There can be no debate; NYFW needs to change the amount of resources it consumes.

A virtual fashion week could go a long way to eliminating a tremendous amount of carbon emissions generated by air travel.

Fashion never stops evolving, and neither does the fashion industry. Hopefully, with guidance from skilled leadership and a little bit of luck, NYFW with grow into a new incarnation that perhaps could be a bit kinder to everyone involved. But for now, as we the deadly rollercoaster that is 2020 continues, we will have to wait and see. 

—Cameron Grey Rose

 

 

 

 

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