In 2017, four prominent young American fashion brands decided that they would show their new collections on the runways of Paris.
These were largely business decisions and would mean little to the average customer. But cumulatively, within the fashion industry, they constituted an exodus: confirmation of a broader nagging feeling that New York Fashion Week, which typically had attracted 150,000 attendees every February and September, was losing its cachet.
For the next three years, that narrative persisted: New York Fashion Week was either dying or already dead. (Even after two of those departing brands, Proenza Schouler and Rodarte, came back to New York in 2018.)
Now, one long quarantine later, there are signs of resurrection.
The other half of the departed — Altuzarra and Thom Browne — will return to NYFW in September after three years in Paris. All but Mr. Browne are committed to staying in New York for at least three more seasons.
produces the “NYFW: The Shows” calendar, sponsored this year by the “buy now, pay later” start-up Afterpay.
In exchange for a pledge to remain until 2022, IMG will help fund and provide support for a total of 11 designers’ shows or events, which can cost upward of six figures. The goal, IMG said Wednesday when announcing the incentive program: “Ensuring a bold return and bright future” for New York Fashion Week.
It comes as no surprise that IMG, which represents models, photographers, production designers, stylists, hair and makeup artists and more, wants fashion to return to the runway, after 18 months of collections presented largely through “digital activations” (a lot of short films and look books).
2019 report on the economics of fashion week.
Outside the outsize bubble of Spring Studios, IMG’s fashion headquarters, there are more signs of life for New York Fashion Week. The highly anticipated America-themed Met Gala has moved from May to September to close out NYFW. Pyer Moss, arguably the city’s buzziest brand, will also show in September, ending a two-year runway hiatus. Tom Ford, president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, announced Monday that he will present a collection, too.
For Joseph Altuzarra, the decision to bring his runway shows back to New York — much like his decision four years ago to take them to Paris, where he was born and raised — was “a very emotional, personal decision.” He made it while working in the city during the pandemic.
“I felt a really strong kinship with the city that I hadn’t felt as deeply in a long time,” Mr. Altuzarra said. “I missed the energy.”
He felt that despite best efforts, no brand had found a “compelling substitute for a show,” he said. The civility of IMG’s initiative also appealed to him. Several designers, including Mr. Altuzarra, signed a letter last May pledging to adhere to a more reasonable seasonal shopping calendar — a rare show of cooperation in fashion.
“Prepandemic, there was very much a sense that everyone was doing their own thing,” he said. “People are so much more open now to thinking about different models and different ways in which we can do things, and building community.”