Fashion GPS kicked off a conversation series last night with a “Technology & Fashion” panel that raised question such as whether technology has replaced the need for Fashion Week.
Simon Collins, dean of fashion at Parsons The New School for Design moderated a group of speakers that included Peter Levy (managing director of IMG Fashion), Jenne Lombardo (fashion director of Milk Made), Rachna Shah (SVP of public relations firm KCD Worldwide), and Dirk Standen (editor-in-chief of Style.com).
Fern Mallis, who is credited with creating the first centralized fashion week in New York City in 1993 opened the evening. “During those first shows, technology was not a word associated with fashion,” Mallis said. “Cell phones were the size of bricks.” Mallis says today it’s hard to take in a runway show without fighting to see through a sea of iPads.
Talk turned to topics including how much Fashion Week has changed in recent years, the fashion calendar, and whether showing at Fashion Week is even necessary anymore.
“We [Style.com] used to put all of the shows up together at five or six in the morning [during Fashion Week]…Everyone would say, ‘I can’t believe you can get that up in 24 hours,’" Standen said of how much technology has changed Fashion Week in recent years. "If we did that today we would be dead.”
Public relations pro Shah said she wishes more people were paying attention at the shows instead of burying themselves in their smartphones. Technology has been a boon to many of the fashion brands she works with. “For many of my clients this is their one big moment to express their brand and technology has helped them expand that moment," she said.
Of whether Fashion Week is even necessary during the technological age, Shah said: “To be honest, not every brand needs to do a live show.”
IMG’s Levy said: “[Fashion shows] are really the unveiling of spectacle…how do you encapsulate that moment of performance.”
And Standen asserted: “There is something special about the live experience, that’s not going away.”
The biggest issue facing the Fashion Week calendar, according to a few of the panelists, is the lag time between runway shows and the delivery of clothes into the stores.
“Everything has speeded up except the manufacturing of clothes,” said Standen.
“The customer is really now the buyer,” said Lombardo.