New York Fashion Week kicks off in flux

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New York officially kicks off the global spring/summer 2017 fashion merry-go-round Thursday, but one thing’s clear: fashion week is over as we know it.

The biannual event is a calendar staple in a city home to a $98 billion fashion industry, headquarters to 900 fashion companies and which generates huge turnover even if Paris and Milan lay claim to more avant-garde couture.

More than 200,000 people flood into New York to attend its September and February fashion weeks combined, where hundreds of shows, deals and parties rake in nearly $900 million before the seasonal bandwagon decamps to Europe.

But this year’s 10-day stretch, inaugurated by warm-up acts from Rihanna for Puma on Tuesday, Kanye West’s much hyped Yeezy Season Four with Adidas and Tom Ford’s retro chic on Wednesday, is on the cusp of revolution.

The program may say spring/summer but an increasing number of designers are abandoning the traditional calendar to unveil fall/winter collections, because well, cooler months are just around the corner.

The drive is designed to cut out the months-long time lag between catwalk shows and customers being able to buy the clothes. Attention spans are contracting in the digital-driven 21st century and fashion houses are playing catch up.

Here are top five trends to watch:

Instant gratification

“See-now, buy-now” is the catchphrase of the moment as folk led by the likes of Tom Ford, Thakoon and Tommy Hilfiger allow clientele to shop the collection straight from the catwalk.

Hilfiger is throwing an extravagant pier party on the waterfront complete with ferris wheel, hot dogs, tattoos stalls and lobster rolls to showcase his Tommy x Gigi capsule collection on Friday night.

The collaboration with It model Gigi Hadid will see customers purchase items straight from touch-screen shopping walls at the party, or hit up their nearest Tommy store the next day.

“I think it will work from a retail standpoint,” Ford told the Los Angeles Times. “I’d be very surprised if we don’t get a lot of women in here the next day who watched (online) or looked at photos from it and want to buy it.”

Climate change

A heat wave may be forecast for New York this week, but watch for the designers showcasing fall/winter or cross-seasonal collections, think coats paired with silk dresses, for example.

Some big-name brands are quietly sitting on their hands, preferring to show spring/summer 2017 collections next February as they slowly tailor their vast production outfits to Northern hemisphere climates.

Calvin Klein, which hired former Christian Dior designer Raf Simons last month, cancelled the presentation to which press were originally invited.

Oscar de la Renta, which broke with Britain’s Peter Copping in July, has recently hired the design duo behind on-trend start-up Monse but is also reportedly unveiling a small team collection.

Consumer first

The customer is traditionally always right and now the customer is coming first. Almost all shows are live streamed in order to reach a maximum audience.

Half the tickets for Tommy Hilfiger’s show were distributed to fans and the “Tommy Pier” will be open to the public on Saturday, the day after the show.

Gender equal

As with Ford on Wednesday night, look out for men and women’s clothes increasingly inhabit the same space rather than being separated weeks apart at rival fashion weeks. Rag and Bone is another to watch out for on Monday.

‘Sartorial spaghetti’

Designers will favor presentations, eschewing the runway in favor of showcasing a living breathing look-book, such as Diane von Furstenberg who has schedule a series of appointments rather than a big runway bash.

“Sartorial spaghetti is being thrown at the wall to see what sticks,” wrote New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman. “But something will, and then the whole sparkly, chiffon-clad edifice could tip.”

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