Change on the fashion front


Despite the plummeting temperatures and snowy weather conditions, thousands gathered for the biannual fashion event of the season: Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week. From Wednesday, Feb. 11 to Thursday, Feb. 19, designers, models, photographers and bloggers flocked around the fountain of Lincoln Center to observe and report about the Fall/Winter 2015 collections. But this season, there were changes in the air that no one saw coming.

This was the last season Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week will be held at Lincoln Center.  Originally, the event organizer, IMG Fashion Week, signed a contract in 2010 that would allow them to use the venue until the year 2020. But according to The New York Times, on Dec. 12, 2013 the group was sued by the New York City Parks Advocates for violation of the city’s contract by using Lincoln Center for non-park purposes.

According to the settlement, reached in Dec. 2014, “The City and Lincoln Center Performing Arts intend to further expand public access to the Park by not entering into agreements for commercial events [similar to] Fashion Week.” The New York Parks Advocates stated that the event’s equipment had caused damage the environment of  Damrosch Park, the space in question, which now requires restoration before being returned to its original use as a public park.

New York Fashion Week is currently held at Lincoln Center. Photo by Meagan O'Shaughnessy.

On Jan. 5, 2015 Women’s Wear Daily announced that after five years, Mercedes-Benz will no longer be affiliated with IMG-produced Fashion Week. Mercedes-Benz financially contributed twice a year to this event as well as providing extreme exposure for the shows and events. As of next season, the official event will simply be named New York Fashion Week. IMG has confirmed in a statement in Women’s Wear Daily that they are moving fashion week to “a not yet confirmed downtown location.”

Both designers and attendees have had issues with the venue in the past. According to The New York Times, show attendees constantly complained about the check-in process, security guards and sponsor booths.  Due to the location's high cost, tight security and venue limitations, many designers have either opted out of Lincoln Center completely or chosen to do a presentation instead of an actual show. To put it into monetary terms, Lincoln Center charges $15,000 for its smallest space and up to $50,000 for the largest venue. Everything from lighting to seating arrangements are included in this cost. However, brands must cover the cost of models, public relations, stylists, model casters, catering services, hair and make-up artists, etc. The New York Times reported that even most celebrities who grace the front row are paid upwards of $100,000. With all of this considered, an average show costs in the middle to high six figures.

Many people outside the industry don’t understand Fashion Week and sometimes see it as a waste of money. However, in a recent congressional report lead by New York representative, Carolyn Maloney it was revealed that New York Fashion Week generates $887 million annually in economic impact. Of that number, $547 million comes directly from visitor spending on hotels, restaurants and cab fares.

"Until I started working on this report,” said Maloney according to Women's Wear Daily. “I didn't realize the importance of the fashion industry to New York City… I hope this new report helps reawaken lawmakers and policy makers to understand and appreciate the huge financial impact of the fashion industry."