Fashion’s Night Out Draws Critics – 09-12-2011
Marking its third year in the U.S. last Thursday, Fashion’s Night Out drew a horde of people, lots of media attention and not many shoppers. But was the spectacle enough?
Some think so.
“What I love is to see youngsters,” Dior CEO Sidney Toledano told Reuters in Paris. “All (these young people) will not become clients, but we need to seduce them today to have them tomorrow.”
Indeed, most stores reportedly broke even at best or more likely lost money for the night, paying for the booze, hors d’oeuvres, giveaways, DJ’s, models, musicians, celebrities and other entertainment. Some on the record said they believe that was enough if the one-night event celebrated fashion for existing customers and reached some old or potential new ones.
Australia Vogue’s editor-in-chief Kirstie Clements told The Australian that with the rise of online shopping, stores have to be more experiential. She said, “It’s really about sales, not celebrity.”
The fashion fiesta, spearheaded by Anna Wintour, Vogue’s worldwide editor-in-chief, has spread to 250 cities in the U.S., and 17 countries around the globe.
But Bud Konheim, CEO of Nicole Miller, lamented that no purchases were being made.
“FNO is a hype where anybody can go and get a free drink in any store in New York,” he told Women’s Wear Daily. “What does it do for business? Nothing. FNO doesn’t move the needle, but it adds to the perception that fashion is fun. We have to make people feel good or else we’re out of business. In terms of the money we spent on FNO, we didn’t get it back.”
A particularly vocal critic has been New York Times fashion critic Cathy Horyn, who in 2010 called for an end to the event. She wrote at the time, “What are you really celebrating? Not art or great books. You’re celebrating shopping.”
This year, she wrote that the event made sense in 2009 when traffic was sparse and small stores were closing, but “now it’s become a party, an institutionalized kickoff to Fashion Week, and though it apparently raises money for some causes, I have to believe that the costs of security, crowd control and entertainment, not to mention the traffic headaches, outweigh the actual benefits.”
She further noted that major stores are now thriving and “smart and fashionable, not safe” merchandise is drawing traffic to stores across the city. Concluded Ms. Horyn, “You really don’t need outside influences to shop these days.”
Discussion questions: What is your assessment of Fashion’s Night Out? Would you advise retailers to participate? What would you do to improve it?
The critics need to chill. This is like a Saturday downtown art walk or music festival. Not meant for immediate sales, but rather to increase awareness and passion. Fashion, my friends, is art. The Vogue Fashion Night Out allows the industry to celebrate the art and fun that is fashion, as well as raise money and awareness for various supported causes. The long-term viability of the fashion industry is helped by bringing in more aficionados and aspirational fashionistas. Yes, many will just enjoy the giveaways but as Dior’s Toledano astutely declares, “All (these young people) will not become clients, but we need to seduce them today to have them tomorrow.”
Mike Osorio, your Dare to be Contagious! ™ strategist
What do you think? Please add your comments and add to the discussion!
Go to the full discussion at Retailwire.com: Fashion’s Night Out Draws Critics
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