A Sneak Peek at Fashion Week

date: 9/10/2015

A Sneak Peek at Fashion Week

Fall clothes are barely in stores, but the spring 2016 collections hit the runway this week in New York. This season, the city’s gritty, crowded fashion week is drawing fresh attention from European luxury brands.

On Friday, Givenchy will show in New York instead of its home, Paris, and give away 1,200 tickets to the public, in addition to the fashion editors and store buyers who typically attend shows. The brand took requests on a first-come, first-served basis and let the winners know earlier this week. The publicity stunt comes as many European brands seek to expand in the healthy U.S. luxury market, now that markets like China and Russia are cooling off.

New York is the first of four fashion weeks, followed by London, Milan and Paris. The U.S. city’s designers may also benefit as ultraluxury retailer Net-a-Porter scouts catwalks for the sort of midprice “contemporary” labels in which New York specializes. Net-a-Porter’s strategy to sell more commercial clothing is aimed at attaining profitability after the London company’s steady net losses.

Roughly 190 labels will show on New York’s official calendar—sometimes piled five labels per hour. That is more than the Milan and Paris fashion weeks combined. (Milan and Paris feature about 68 and 95 labels, respectively.)

Europe remains the standard-bearer for luxury brands, though. The Row, a young and high-priced New York label designed by former child actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, is seeking to establish itself among luxury labels by shifting its show to Paris from New York.

For those without credentials for these invitation-only events, it will be easier than ever to see the fashions this season as digital peeks proliferate. Designer Yigal Azrouël will unveil part of his collection to the three million consumers on the mobile style app Covet Fashion before his runway show on Friday. Misha Nonoo will present a digital-only show Saturday morning, rather than her usual runway.

Twitter plans to aggressively promote its Periscope live streaming, Vine video sharing, photo filters, and other image-sharing capabilities in a series of fashion week events and partnerships. Twitter hopes to bolster its position against rival Instagram, a photo-friendly social app that has been widely adopted by fashion designers. It is already gaining momentum and says that tweets mentioning “fashion” rose 17% from August 2014 to August 2015.

Barraged with images from the catwalks and backstage—consumers will be encouraged to use what Twitter employees are internally calling “fashtags” to help hype the week. Anyone who hashtags #NYFW will find attached to the tweet a revolving set of fashion-related emoji that Twitter designed.

There will be “Tweet cams”—-special cameras set up at shows to snap a photo and send it to Twitter users who use a special hashtag created for the event. There will also be Twitter “mirrors”—iPads that will allow attendees to snap a selfie that can then be broadcast.

IMG, the entertainment conglomerate that is organizing many shows during New York’s fashion week, is partnering with Twitter in a number of events and has a big digital push of its own. Its shows will be live-streamed, and a team will be editing and posting images and video steadily through the week. “We want designers to feel like showing with us is about the awesome experience of being there but also about creating a global event,” says Dan Porter, head of digital at IMG.

This is part of a recovery effort at IMG, which had seen the departures of designers including Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore and Diane von Furstenberg from its famous tents. Designers and attendees complained of a sponsorship-heavy convention-like atmosphere at the tents. Now without former namesake sponsor Mercedes-Benz, IMG has moved its shows to several locations further downtown and launched a new website,

There seems to be no end of other companies seeking to glom on to the shows. Netflix has created a list of streamable fashion-related programming. It includes educational shows such as “Unzipped” and “Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf’s,” and what it bills as “fashion packed fun” such as “Ready to Wear” and “Zoolander.”

Fashion weeks exist so that designers can put forth the ideas they hope will drive styles for the coming years, while selling these concepts to stores and magazines. One concept that will clearly take a stronger hold is athleisure, the combination of athletic and day wear that may be more a permanent movement than a flash-in-the-pan trend.

Tory Burch will launch Tory Sport—like Lululemon but dressier—at a pop-up shop downtown. The label Creatures of the Wind has paired up with Adam and Ryan Goldston of Athletic Propulsion Labs to offer a capsule collaboration of designer running shoes for the runway aimed at those who want the sport look in stingray.

The move to a more casual lifestyle is emerging even for dressy occasions. Katie Ermilio became known for her dressy dresses, but says her pants are her best-sellers lately—even for evening. “Evening wear is so modern now,” says Ms. Ermilio.

A peek at some of the designs and inspirations behind these collections suggests there will also be a continued interest in the kitten heel, in indigenous looks, and in transparent looks.