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The future of Fashion Week

The future of Fashion Week

Over the past few weeks you may well have been reading all about Air New Zealand Fashion Week in this section. But within the next few years, it could be you sitting in the front row at Fashion Week. All over the world, from New York to Russia, Fashion Weeks have been changing there is now more public involvement than ever and pundits believe this will continue to grow.

Imagine this: a few small shows attended by, oh say, a couple of hundred key members of the fashion industry that nobody else ever hears about. Sounds boring, doesn’t it? And then crikey huge, fabulous extravaganzas for thousands featuring sparkly gowns, deliriously good looking models and all sorts of theatrical tricks and treats. This could be the future of Fashion Weeks everywhere, including our own.

Since New Zealand Fashion Week started eight years ago, the event has evolved a lot. And, as is only natural, those involved have started asking questions. Such as: what is New Zealand Fashion Week really for do designers want to sell garments to stores or do they want to get lots of coverage in the press?

Why focus on European media and boutiques the British Vogues and the American Barney’s when we sell far more in Australia and Asia? Who cares what the woman at the local paper thinks about those dresses when after all one’s taste in clothing is a subjective matter, and we get to judge the outfits for ourselves as soon as they appear on the internet anyway? Is Fashion Week for the general public or is it for the fashion industry?

There’s a lot of public interest in New Zealand’s Fashion Week even though the event is, basically a trade fair. Aucklanders invited to a runway show get excited, dress up, drink champagne, gossip, dive upon the goodie bags. Basically it’s shorthand for a good time. And they are even willing to pay the fashion shows held the weekend after the trade fair cost punters between $65 and $100 a seat. This increasing public participation and interest (and willingness to pay for it) is in keeping with global trends. By selling tickets to fashion shows, the designers or event organisers are able to pay for the shows as well as getting the public exposure they desire.

Besides you, the general public, the other interesting presence at this year’s Fashion Week was Simon Lock, the founder of Australian Fashion Week. Lock is now the managing director of IMG Fashion in this region, which owns New York and Los Angeles Fashion Week, along with fashion events in Bombay, Moscow and Berlin as well as holding interests in London and Milan Fashion Weeks and managing some of the world’s top models, including Kate Moss.

Apparently the snow mad Lock had been on a skiing holiday in this country before “popping in” to the front row at every second fashion show. Didn’t take long for the rumours to start was the erstwhile Mr Lock about to stake his claim in New Zealand Fashion Week?

Talking to those involved, including Lock himself, it doesn’t seem likely that this is going to happen. What did emerge toward the end of the week was a far friendlier relationship between the two events there was talk of closer transtasman collaboration, even suggestions of holding winter shows in Auckland and summer shows in Sydney featuring a mixture of Australian and New Zealand designers.

At the Westpac Workroom, a sort of business forum for local designers and experts held last week, Lock said that in Sydney the fashion shows are getting smaller while the public events are getting bigger Sydney now has a whole Fashion Festival. He also felt Australian and New Zealand fashion could be more focused on the huge Asian market.

All of which is why the future of New Zealand Fashion Week could include some, or all, of the following.

Firstly, small shows for key media and buyers, who need to see collections a season in advance, because of their business. They’ll all be over within two days, they’ll be boring for anybody who’s not in the biz and then the most important international delegates will be able to whiz back to the European and American events. There may also be online only fashion shows.

And secondly, there might be huge, glamorous, publicly accessible shows during which designers display what is about to be available in their local stores.

And having bought a ticket, that’s where you, the loyal Viva reader, will be sitting: right there, in the front row.

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