Do We Still Need Fashion Week?

For an industry known for dishing out harsh criticism in a cruel vernacular of in and out, hot and not, and a few “what the *%$@# was she thinking”s thrown in for good measure, the fashion world is on the receiving end with what might be the most cruelly ironic critique of all: many accuse fashion of being out of touch.

Yesterday, the industry’s official organization called the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) took a major step addressing this accusation by discussing Fashion Week, the industry keystone whose growing ineffectiveness and obsolescence represents the out-of-touchness that faces the industry.

In a town meeting attended by the likes of Donna Karan, Anna Wintour, Andre Leon Talley, Jack McCollough of Prouenza Schouler, and CFDA prez Diane Von Furstenberg, industry insiders candidly discussed problems like fashion’s screwed-up timeline and the Internet.

The bigget issue: because of the Internet, consumers view— and subsequently want— new fashions right off the runway, as well as on celebrities who are styled in not-yet-available clothes straight from designers. But the runways shows are a whole season ahead. Five months later, the magazines scramble to tell readers something they don’t already know, and the clothes finally hitting stores no longer seem fresh… and they’ve arrived so early before the season that when consumers are actually ready to shop, the prices are already slashed. Confusion ensues and money is lost. The whole system begs the question: what exactly is the point of Fashion Week and the delayed fashion calendar anymore?

Suggestions for addressing these questions were varied, such as Donna Karan’s longstanding wish that fall Fashion Week and spring Fashion actually take place in fall and spring, Anna Wintour’s potential and highly illegal committee to essentially fix prices and sales, and wacky Betsey Johnson’s stroke of brilliance: “I would love to show at Madison Square Garden! I wish Fashion Week for the public can be like Christmas, and maybe we’ll put up green and pink lights everywhere.”

Well, at least they’re sitting down and talking.

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