Future of Fashion Shows May Be Online

Discussion
Dec 11, 2009
George Anderson

By
George Anderson

As
David Lauren, marketing chief for Polo Ralph Lauren, told Time, “The
cost of a fashion show has become prohibitive.”

The
expense of putting on the lavish shows and accompanying parties
associated around events such as New York’s Fashion Week has designers wondering
if there isn’t a better way to introduce new lines.

For
some, the answer appears to be the internet. A number of top designers
have streamed shows online and Lauren is behind a virtual fashion show
that will have models strutting on treadmills in front of a green screen
rather than sauntering down a catwalk.

The
cost difference between a traditional fashion show and one of the virtual
variety is stark. According to Lauren, the company spends somewhere of the
vicinity of $1.5 million to attract 700 retail buyers and members of the
fashion press. Taking their show online only costs the company about $50,000
and it will attract upwards of 40 million page views.

Of
course, saving money isn’t everything, and as the Time report points out,
past stabs at going completely virtual have not worked to the advantage of
designers taking that approach.

Polo
Ralph Lauren is planning virtual shows for some of its less expensive lines,
including one for children, but isn’t ready to commit to an online only approach
for its most prestigious brands.

Discussion
Questions: What do you think about designers shifting from traditional
fashion shows to virtual presentations of seasonal lines? How will
online affect the fashion business in the years ahead?

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8 Comments on "Future of Fashion Shows May Be Online"


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Bob Phibbs
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

This doesn’t have to be an either/or, but simply an and. Smart fashion houses can get customers in many ways, just like retailers.

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

All manufacturers need to find innovative ways to save money. Many are turning to the Internet. Why should fashion be any different? Ralph Lauren is trying the virtual fashion show for some of his less expensive lines, while retaining the shows for his more prestigious brands. This makes sense. A one-size-fits-all approach means wasted money.

Paul R. Schottmiller
Guest
Paul R. Schottmiller
11 years 5 months ago

I agree with Bob; this is an “AND.” The richer the media experience becomes, the greater the opportunity to shift to more virtual approaches. Additionally, virtual approaches not only can replace some live venues, but also allow for new models of interaction. Changes in approach and economics are inevitable.

Warren Thayer
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Yup, it’s an “and.” Years ago, I covered the fashion industry as a writer, and I’ve been to NYC fashion shows. For the low- end middle-tier lines, the Internet is fine. For the “prestige” lines, you need the shows, which are an ego event with lots of insincere hugging, kissing the air, nasty cracks and “being seen” in the right get-up even as a spectator. (No, I don’t miss it. Can ya tell?) Anyway, the above-mentioned frivolity is part and parcel of the whole thing on the high-end, and I don’t see that going away.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 5 months ago
Being a fashion geek, I had Alexander McQueen’s virtual show time flagged as a reminder on my calendar and it was thrilling (for me anyway) to see it “live.” Fashion shows by Chanel, Galliano, Viktor and Rolf and others now rival Broadway productions which these days, gives them a taint of conspicuous consumption. Some fashion designers like Marc Jacobs are alleviating this and keeping things interesting by pursuing lower-cost, more offbeat locations. I think the “modern” solution (to get all Karl Lagerfeld on you) is a threefold approach: 1. Pared down fashion shows combined with 2. Virtual coverage of the shows augmented with unique online-only content and offers, supported by 3. Multimedia art happenings that are revenue-producing and brand-expansive. I love the mobile art pavilion project that Chanel did with Zaha Hadid, for example. Comme des Garcons designer, Rei Kawakubo continues to take on interesting off-the-runway projects like her recently-designed Barbie (which sold out in Tokyo last week and is heading to CDG stores in the U.S.) and ongoing pop-up guerrilla stores around the world,… Read more »
Marge Laney
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

Buzz is the name of the game in fashion. Fashion shows create buzz, just ask Victoria’s Secret. Adding a virtual component to the fashion show strategy is a great idea because it gives the masses a peek into the exclusive, invitation-only runway shows and builds brand awareness. I agree with Bob…it’s an “and.”

Christopher P. Ramey
Guest
11 years 5 months ago

It’s the beginning of the democratization of fashion; opening the door for emerging fashion brands.

William Passodelis
Guest
11 years 4 months ago

The “show” of the show is VERY important for many of the people attending–possibility to network and meet and be seen–this goes on around the drama and worry of the designer and designer staff and all the work that they are doing. Perhaps a combo approach where a show is actually performed in person in Paris and “simulcast” real time, in a time of day appropriate of course to both locales, with primary focus on Paris and New York and of course London and Milan, WITH parties hosted by important representatives of the firm in the primary locations around the globe so that the show can be done once with costs absorbed once but with bells and whistles still intact. Relatively, that might be a good approach and would still be available to 40 million but the local experience of the attendees beyond the main show should not be underestimated.

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