Is NYFW Losing Its Relevance?

New York Fashion Week is underway, and it seems that people are feeling a bit … lukewarm about it. Hey, the times are changing, and so is the face of one of the most anticipated fashion events of the year. With up-to-the-minute news (and clothes) available on the Internet at every turn, is New York Fashion Week losing its relevance? Could it be on its way to a demise, or at least a very heavy change of pace? And would that necessarily be a bad thing?

Fashion Week, which has made its home at Lincoln Center these past few years, has been a staple of the industry for decades. In the last several years, the fashion world has been forced to accommodate the addition of the likes of twitter, tumblr, street style blogs, and instant online shopping to the action. While the internet can be a huge advantage to the industry, the exclusive air of seeing NYFW shows in person is losing some of its cachet. Designers have taken to streaming their fashion shows live so everyone and their cousin can watch from home on the couch. This certainly saves time for the press and allows accessibility for thousands of consumers, but what does it mean for fashion’s power players? When minute-to-minute updates are being tweeted and blogged and instagrammed all over the world, is the live event devalued?

On top of this comes an increased fascination with the behind-the-scenes side of the event, with bloggers and photographers often featuring well-dressed spectators instead of models on the runway. With the internet, fans now have a medium to send their own fashion views out across the globe. Style bloggers freely share their unique takes on a look, creating entirely new ways of thinking about clothes. This industry has long made a habit of separating “haves” from “have-nots” and thriving on the notion of a select few customers owning a style that others can’t have. These days, with all of this widespread content sharing, fashion is more universally accessible than it ever was. When it comes to dressing themselves, people are thinking more out of the box than ever before – enough to question whether shoppers are still even looking to the “rule makers” often found at NYFW to tell us what they should and shouldn’t wear.

The mood surrounding those who will actually attend Fashion Week seems more begrudging than anything else. A cloud of hostility and exhaustion follows the crowded, fast-paced happenings at Lincoln Center. The tendency for shallow “rules,” snooty attitudes, and body-shaming rubs some people the wrong way. The designers themselves are under tremendous pressure to continually churn out more collections without much time to pause or recollect, and all of that culminates this week. The surrounding neighborhood isn’t too happy either — Lincoln Center area residents are dreading the loud spectacle they will have to pass on their walks home.

Maybe a reform of Fashion Week’s traditions (or even a collapse of it all) could be an end to an institution that often leans toward negative and elitist. Maybe it could make way for a more fresh-faced, technology-friendly generation to take the lead in an industry that could be reaching burnout mode. It doesn’t seem that Fashion Week will disappear completely anytime soon, but it could definitely use a facelift.