By  on December 3, 2007

NEW YORK — Can New York support a dedicated men’s fashion week?

Two of the apparel industry’s most influential organizations, trade show producer ENK International and fashion show organizer IMG, have partnered in an effort to create a unified and vibrant men’s fashion and market week. Their plan calls for encouraging men’s designers to stage runway shows during the traditional men’s market weeks in mid-January and July—when ENK’s Collective and Blue shows, as well as Advanstar Communications’ Project, are held—rather than during the currently sanctioned fashion weeks in February and September, which are dominated by women’s shows.

ENK and IMG are working to recruit designers for a small-scale men’s fashion week during the upcoming round of New York trade shows, scheduled for Jan. 20 to 23. Designer Andrew Buckler, who has shown during New York Fashion Week for several seasons, was the first to commit to moving his show to the new time slots.

“Quite a few years back we had a designated men’s week, and we are very excited for this new effort,” said Fern Mallis, executive director of 7th on Sixth, the IMG-owned entity that oversees New York Fashion Week. “We’re seeing a lot more creativity and attention to men’s wear in recent seasons, but there hasn’t been an opportunity to give it the proper platform it deserves. The market dates for men’s are very different from women’s. This is the perfect opportunity to work with ENK to create something that works for everyone.”

IMG is controlled by private investment group Forstmann Little & Co., which also owns a significant stake in ENK International. IMG will work with ENK to create a runway show venue on Pier 92 this January, adjacent to ENK’s Blue show and a short walk from The Collective on Pier 94. The two companies hope to stage four to five shows there in January, as this initiative gets off the ground.

“This is just the beginning for us as we think there will be a bigger designer presence in July,” noted Luis Padilla, president of ENK International. “The timing of the spring shows in September is even worse for men’s designers, as they are a full two months after market week. We think this new combination of fashion shows and trade shows will create a compelling package for men’s designers, vendors, buyers and press.”

Of course, it remains to be seen if designers will be ready to abandon the headline-making glitz of the traditional New York Fashion Week calendar. “It’s definitely a pioneering move but someone has to do it,” argued Kelly Cutrone, founder of People’s Revolution, a PR and show-production firm and a consultant to ENK and IMG on this new initiative. “I think men’s designers like Buckler are much more likely to get covered in this new format than during New York Fashion Week when you have shows double- and triple-booked in the same time slots.”

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