IMG Fashion, the company charged with producing Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in New York, recently announced that its bi-annual fashion week will be run a bit differently in the near future. An IMG exec said: “What used to be a platform for established designers … has developed into a cluttered and exhausting period for our industry.” IMG plans to restructure Lincoln Center to accommodate fewer people and cut media guest lists by 20 per cent to weed out the “unessential” attendees. Not surprisingly, every major media outlet has published a story dedicated to this new development, including predictions about what exactly these changes will mean for NYFW attendees. Headlines include: “IMG Fashion to Make Major Changes,” “NYFW Changes Aimed At Minimizing Chaos,” “Bloggers will be dropped from next year’s fashion weeks,” and the like. Most articles suggest that bloggers have taken precedence over buyers (which may or may not be true) and that they are the ones who will be targeted by the new rules.
So, will IMG’s plans to revamp NYFW remove bloggers and street style stars from the mix? No. Will it somehow make the chaos disappear? Probably not.
In case you missed the memo (it seems IMG may have to some extent), fashion is a business, and street style and personal style blogs are big businesses. Their reach is wide. Their traffic is high. And since magazines aren’t selling quite like they used to, blogs have fast become one of the most powerful tools in marketing. Bloggers and street style stars are international tastemakers. If the Man Repeller wears something, her 200,000 Facebook fans notice. The fashion industry at large and beyond takes notice, as her image will be plastered all over her own personal site but on the vast array of fashion news sites, street style sites and whatever other sites post street style pictures during fashion week. For a brand, that is pretty major, and it is a lot cheaper than getting Gisele to pose for an ad campaign.
I understand IMG’s desire to limit the chaos caused by street style and attention-starving bloggers. Over the past several years, the focus has steadily shifted from the catwalk to the sidewalk, and that seems like a bad thing (it may not be). Also, given the overly styled and staged nature of “personal style,” it would be refreshing to return to a time of authenticity. We all probably know by now that “personal style” in the capital “F” Fashion context currently operates according to an intricate system. A system in which companies exist solely for the purpose of pairing bloggers with brands that want exposure; styling those bloggers, getting them into events, having their “street style” images taken by professional photographers, and then having the bloggers post those images on their sites. So, let’s not reminisce about the past too much because it is just that: The past. We have reached the point of no return, so to speak. Street style stars have been made. (We can thank Scott Schuman for quite a bit of that. Just ask him). Brands have reaped the benefits of relatively free publicity, and this is advertising as we know it now, in addition to the seasonal ad campaigns on the pages of Vogue and W.
For this reason, bloggers will continue to be invited to fashion week. The individuals that cause the most chaos, the ones garnering swarms of paparazzi-like street style photographers, the ones sitting in front row seats, will continually be invited and will not be affected by IMG’s new rules. The Russian Fashion Pack (think: Miroslava Duma, Anya Ziourova, and Elena Perminova, etc.), a handful of styled editors, the professional “it” bloggers like Leandra Medine, Bryan Boy, Susie Lau, and Chiara Ferragni (among many others whose names I do not know but whose faces I would recognize and you probably would, too) and the people who I don’t actually know what they do other than attend events (don’t make me name names) … These are international tastemakers.
These are the new supermodels in this alternate form of advertising. Getting one of those big-names in your brand during NYFW is a major advertising win. So, these people will continue to be invited to shows and most will stop to pose for pictures in fully-sponsored looks and the chaos will ensue. And then everyone will leave for London.