Debating Fashion Week’s Role in the Digital Age-------
“When I started New York fashion week in 1993, digital cameras did not exist and photographers used actual film,” Fern Mallis told a crowd of students, bloggers, and aspiring designers last night at the first in a series of conversations presented by Fashion GPS. “Today is a different world, everyone is a critic and the only photographer that uses film is Bill Cunningham.”
The introduction was apt. The evening’s topic was “Technology and Fashion Week”—close to home for Fashion GPS, which manages fashion-show invitations and RSVPs digitally. Moderated by Parsons’ fashion school dean Simon Collins, the panelists were Jenne Lombardo of Milk Made; Peter Levy of IMG; Rachna Shah of public relations and production firm KCD; and our own Dirk Standen, editor in chief of Style.com. Among the hot-button issues: The role of live shows in a digital age, new marketing strategies like 3-D and film, and rethinking fashion week. “The fashion calendar is an extremely antiquated system,” lamented Lombardo, whose multimedia company showcases the work of emerging designers online. “It does not necessarily make sense for a younger breed.” Standen defended the live show, while noting that it was somewhat ironic for the editor of a digital leader like Style.com to take this position. “There is a real value to having critics and buyers go in person,” he said.
As part of the evening, Fashion GPS CEO Eddie Mullon unveiled the company’s newest platform, Radar, an iPhone application that gives editors and buyers instant access to collections, allowing them to upload images to social networks like Facebook and Twitter and to request looks in real time. One hope is that this might alleviate the need for attendees to be constantly taking iPhone pics of the runway action. “Wouldn’t it be nice to see people actually looking at the shows?” mused Mallis. Meanwhile, Bryan Boy (installed in the front row, as usual) expressed nostalgia for the nearly bygone days of print. “I miss the good old paper invites,” the blogger admitted to Style.com. “Marc Jacobs was my first fashion show in New York and getting the invite was a really important moment. I had it framed.”