So this is what they mean when they say “this is why we can’t have nice things”: Fashion’s Night Out is dunzo, folks, and it’s all your fault. No, I’m just kidding. Kind of. See, Americans have a way of taking a perfectly good, maybe even ingenious idea and blowing it up into a different beast entirely. More often than not, said beast is terrible.
Let’s start at the beginning: Fashion’s Night Out, the brain baby of Anna Wintour, launched back in 2009 as an attempt to resuscitate the recession-slammed New York City economy. Heralded as “a global shopping spree,” it was part of a master plan to get people back in stores and making purchases, and it was a massive success. Free drinks, celebrity and designer appearances, discounted merchandise, an overall “party” atmosphere but in your favorite stores and amongst the impossibly chic with whom you’d normally never rub elbows — that first year, it was a dream come true for fashion lovers, and the stores that hosted them.
And then it evolved. Devolved, perhaps? Regardless, it changed. People took advantage. Stores filled with the shop-hopping bridge-and-tunnel crowd, drunk off free alcohol and not intending to buy a single thing. I happened to be in the Meatpacking District, home to shops all over the spectrum (from Diane von Furstenberg and Christian Louboutin to Ed Hardy — that kind of spectrum), on Fashion’s Night Out last year, and it was miserable. The words “epic shitshow” come to mind. Vomit and broken glass on the streets, hoards of guys with goatees all in Affliction t-shirts, a roaring line spanning 4 blocks to maybe catch a glimpse of Alexa Chung through a window. It was like last call at the club, but it was 10 o’clock and everyone was either from New Jersey or 13-years-old (shown, a scene from last year’s event at Saks Fifth Avenue). And really, I cannot emphasize this enough: everyone there was out looking for free shit. They were waiting on giveaways, or walking down the avenue and stopping in every store for a free drink on the way. Nobody was buying anything.
So really, I’m glad to hear that Fashion’s Night Out is “on hiatus” in America for the time being. I was over it, and everyone else was, too. The hard work and resources that were put into it had become more valuable than the end result. CFDA chief executive Steven Kolb said of the decision, “You look at the event from many different angles, and we would always return to what was our original mission and purpose and that was to reinvigorate the shopping experience and the consumers’ engagement in stores. After this last one, we felt we had really created this renewed presence at retail that really brought added value and a fun experience back to shopping.” Bottom line: it served its purpose. Now let’s move on. [WWD]