New York Fashion Week Fact Sheet
Feb 21, 2011 - by Lester Brathwaite
We all know what Fashion Week is, but, tell me Alfie, do we know what it's all about? Let's take a brief road trip down History Highway to discover what New York Fashion Week was once upon a seam and from whence it came. I'd buckle up because mom's already gotten into the wine coolers.
- The first fashion show was probably staged in New York City specialty store, Ehrich Brothers in 1903 as a means to lure middle-class women.
- By 1910, many big-name department stores were holding shows, though mostly of French or French-inspired clothing.
- 1914, Fashion Fete, an event to benefit the war-relief effort is organized by former Vogue editor (1914-1952), Edna Woolman Chase.
- By 1920s, fashion shows were common and had Parisian, Persian, Chinese, Russian, and Mexican themes, among others.
- Shows grew so popular merchants had to obtain licenses when using live models; in New York, police even threatened to put an end them altogether.
- When the Germans occupied France in 1940, buyers, editors, and designers were unable to travel to Paris to see the few remaining shows.
- Enter fashion publicist, Eleanor Lambert. She established the first Fashion Week, dubbed Press Week, in 1943 to publicize American fashion and gain control of the market.
- Lambert hoped to give editors a chance to see and write about the work of American designers; they would stay on-site, usually at the Pierre or Plaza Hotels while buyers were forced to visit the designers' showrooms.
- Soon Vogue and Harpers Bazaar, who had previously featured exclusively French designs, began embracing American fashions and crediting the names behind them.
- 1970s and 80s, designers began holding shows in lofts, restaurants and clubs; after a series of mishaps in small, unsafe locations in the early 90s, Fern Mallis, then president of the CFDA, spearheaded a movement to have all the shows in one place.
- Striking a deal with Bryant Park to house the shows in tents, the Spring 1994 collection was the first Fashion Week to be held there.
- The event at the tents was officially branded Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in 2009 to reflect corporate sponsorship.
- After numerous disputes between the Park's management and the shows producers, IMG, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was moved to Lincoln Center for the Spring 2011 collections, though many designers still opt to have their shows away from the tents.
- Each year, about 232,000 people attend New Yorks Fall and Spring Fashion Weeks. This accounts for approximately $466 million in direct visitor spending and about $1.6 billion in tax revenue to the citys fashion industry.
- $40 million - restaurants; $30 million - taxis, Town Cars, and public transportation; $56 million - hotels.
So there's a method to the madness after all. And that method is spelled with about 8 zeros. See you in the Fall!