NEW YORK--With live catwalk shows, star-studded front rows and parties, New York Fashion Week returns on Wednesday with its first in-person edition in 18 months.
Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera and Tom Ford are among the top designers presenting their spring-summer 2022 collections to a live audience at the Sept. 8 - 12 event, made up of 91 shows and presentations. The COVID-19 pandemic forced brands to turn to digital means to present their lines in the last two seasons, with only a handful hosting live events under strict conditions.
"There is a real sense ... of community, of coming together, of really wanting to put the best foot forward for American fashion, New York Fashion Week," Steven Kolb, chief executive of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, told Reuters. "We're not out of it but we are approaching the business differently: an investment in direct to consumer, looking at production, looking at local production made in New York, made in America, looking at a more sustainable industry."
The pandemic hit the fashion and luxury goods industry hard, with demand shrinking due to store closures and travel restrictions. "The U.S. fashion industry saw a decline of 20% in 2020. It really took a tumble because of the coronavirus pandemic and it was more than a $100 billion loss," said Booth Moore, executive editor, West Coast, of industry magazine Women's Wear Daily.
"So this is high stakes for the industry and New York Fashion Week as part of generating excitement. And retail sales have been on the uptick," Moore said.
One of the challenges designers have been adapting to is the pandemic-driven rush to online shopping. "Designers are being forced to think about how they can create businesses for themselves, direct to consumer, and also kind of beef up their online channels and figure out how to reach people directly," Moore said.
Among the highlights will be the LaQuan Smith fashion show inside the Empire State Building and a star-studded party for Italian jeweller Bulgari. The star-studded Met Gala, whose theme this year is American fashion, will follow on Sept. 13.
This season, fashionistas attending New York shows will need to be vaccinated. Masks are recommended. Some designers, including Badgley Mischka and Oscar de la Renta, will use the digital option again this week.