Hundreds of thousands of models, designers, journalists and spectators are in New York City this week for New York Fashion Week (or #NYFW for those who, like me, are obsessively following it on social media).
These nine days in September will define fashion trends for the foreseeable future. Or, at least until the next biannual NYFW occurs in February.
NYFW was first held in 1943 when it was attended solely by fashion editors who wrote about it in their respective publications. Today, social media coverage is arguably the most important method of spreading information about the shows. Instagram posts about the spring 2015 NYFW were liked and commented on over 140 million times, according to Instagram statistics, and most of the shows are live streamed.
Fashion news outlets including Vogue offer clips of each show, edited into concise YouTube videos alongside interviews with the designer and the show’s notable guests. The video for Jason Wu’s spring 2016 ready-to wear collection show, which occurred Friday, included analysis and commentary from actress and model Jamie King; Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships at Instagram; and Roopal Patel, fashion director at Saks Fifth Avenue.
There are websites that document every outfit from each of the hundreds of shows, some that provide commentary on evolving fashion trends and others that indulge an interest in NYFW attendees, from celebrities to those with noteworthy street style.
One designer, Misha Nonoo, even decided to forego the traditional format of a fashion show and present her collection on Instagram, with each look divided into several posts that created one large image when viewed horizontally.
Although NYFW’s global impact is undeniable — in its many collections, trends will emerge that will take hold in celebrity and fashion culture before appearing in department stores and boutique apparel — its location is the key to its importance, according to designer Michael Kors in a Vogue article previewing the week’s events.
“The energy of it,” Kors said. “You can sit back and watch five completely different women with completely different styles walk down the street. I’ve always said that a New York sidewalk is the ultimate runway.”
There are other fashion weeks in various countries throughout the year, but by its numbers alone, fall NYFW is the largest, according to a New York Times article. It is attended by over 100,000 people a year, and according to a 2012 statistic, it “contributed $850 million a year to the local economy — about twice the economic impact of the 2014 Super Bowl, held near New York City in East Rutherford, (New Jersey.)”
In addition to the commotion that NYFW creates, September is an important month in its own right: Fashion magazines’ September issue is consistently the largest and most impactful effort. This year’s Vogue September issue was 832 pages long, about 615 of which were advertisements, according to a Fashionista count. (Brand advertising is arguably an important part of fashion magazines’ content in addition to why they are able to exist, but that’s a topic for another day.)
When this week concludes, NYFW will have brought in hundreds of millions of dollars to New York City and immeasurable value to the fashion industry. It will have attracted attendees from all over the world and inspired countless articles, videos, Instagrams and Tweets.
But most importantly, with its digital presence, NYFW will have influenced countless fashion fans who weren’t able to attend, but were still able to participate in discussions of trends, beauty and art. The fashion industry will never be wholly democratic, but with increased access, it might be more available to those outside of its bubble.
Collegian News Editor Ellie Mulder can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @lemarie.