Author: Nicole Fitzsimmons
A behind the scenes look at the fashion world, as told by a fashionista and a PR intern. We see you walking up the slope in stilettos. We want you to try one thing, in two words. Do less.
As the Autumn/Winter 2015 fashion shows come to a close, the absence of Fashion’s Night Out looms in the hearts of many American shoppers. After a four-year stint, FNO is cancelled until further notice. While the consumer celebration may have showcased engagement in fashion, the excitement certainly did not reflect in sales.
To boost the industry’s economy during the 2008 recession, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and NYC & Company joined forces to launch Fashion’s Night Out in New York City. The mission was to relight the shopping spark. The event was introduced a year later during New York Fashion Week. From department stores to luxury brands, retailers promised free alcohol, merchandise promotions, and star-sightings. An overnight success, FNO spread into 500 U.S. cities as well as 30 others worldwide. Aligned with the designer shows, FNO enabled the everyday consumer to participate in style, affording quality goods at discounted prices.
Despite positive media coverage, FNO posed several logistical problems for New York fashion designers and store owners alike. NYFW overlapped with FNO, mounting the pressure for designers. Retailers hired additional help to keep doors open late. Within the city’s five boroughs, over 800 stores participated until 11 p.m. Accounting for the night’s celebrity appearances and unlimited booze, the price of hosting such an event outweighed the profit. Given the overabundance of free samples and festivities, not much merchandise was actually purchased. Despite FNO’s intentions for shoppers to return to stores, retailers’ revenues did not compensate for the event’s extravagance.
According to Margaret Chin, a CFDA member representing Soho, FNO had grown into too great a sensation to manage in a city like New York. Luring customers with bottomless booze and live music, retailers worried about intoxicated shoplifting. In 2010, two Haider Ackermann leather products–each ticketed at $2,000–were stolen from the If Boutique in Soho. With hoards of customers descending on reduced merchandise, local boutiques were left to fend for themselves with little support from FNO sponsors. As mayhem spread across the city, Fashion’s Night Out resembled a street festival more than it did a soiree of style.
Unless the CFDA finds a solution to hosting FNO in New York, start planning your trip for next year’s festivities. Several of the participating countries are hosting the event in two or more cities this year. Other fashion capitals celebrating FNO include Sydney, Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Shanghai, Beijing, Paris, Berlin, Dusseldorf, Mumbai, Rome, Milan, Tokyo, Osaka, Seoul, Mexico City, Amsterdam, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Madrid, Taiwan, Bangkok, Istanbul, and London. Russian Vogue will be hosting Fashion’s Night Out for the first time in Almaty, Kazhakstan.
Why the success of FNO in other countries? One explanation is that the purchasing power of international consumers differs from that of Americans. Given the over-saturation of fast-fashion brands in the United States, American customers have an array of products to choose from and are constantly shopping regardless of any special event. To ensure FNO’s international success, each fashion capital will have to customize the night’s events to fit customers’ needs. Only time will tell if FNO will continue as a global phenomenon.