NEW YORK — The Council of Fashion Designers of America is aiming to grab a bigger piece of the New York Fashion Week action.
With the goal of unifying all fashion week activities and raising NYFW’s visibility, the CFDA has unveiled a new logo and brand campaign for the shows, which are officially organized under the Fashion Calendar. The CFDA acquired the Fashion Calendar in 2014, which serves as the official schedule of New York Fashion Week.
“This is the first time [having a logo and campaign], and it’s really the result of the process of creating New York Fashion Week as a brand,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA.
The idea came from a meeting he and Diane von Furstenberg, president of the CFDA, had with Mayor Bill de Blasio, where they spoke about the city, the fashion industry and the importance of fashion week to the city. Von Furstenberg and Kolb shared the idea that so many people come to New York during fashion week, and so much happens during that time, they should create a brand connected to the city and make an umbrella, “so all the wonderful stuff that happens can fit in the umbrella,” said Kolb.
The CFDA worked with Redscout, the brand strategy and innovation agency, to develop a visual identity for NYFW. The goal was to align all facets of the city’s runway shows and presentations — from central locations to off-site venues and events — within the brand.
“The campaign unifies New York Fashion Week as a whole, including runway venues and independent shows that are not part of a major venue, which account for almost two-thirds of the two main women’s seasons,” Kolb added. “We want to bring across the message that New York Fashion Week is connected to the entire fashion community and industry.”
Overall, there are about 350 fashion shows that take place during NYFW. This September, there will be somewhat fewer shows since the men’s wear shows have pulled out for their own fashion week, which starts today.
In the past, WME/IMG has united many shows under the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week umbrella, but Mercedes-Benz has pulled out as the title sponsor. IMG will refer to its slate of shows as New York Fashion Week as well. IMG will develop its own NYFW logo that will differentiate its events; that logo is expected to be revealed later this month. Some 50 to 55 designers will participate in the IMG-sponsored shows, which will take place at Skylight at Moynihan Station and Skylight Clarkson Sq. Another 30 to 35 designers will participate in Made Fashion Week, which IMG acquired last winter and which supports emerging designers, with shows at Milk Studios and the surrounding neighborhood. There are no plans to name a new title sponsor, but sources indicated a few big sponsors are expected to be named shortly. IMG officials declined comment.
Most of the major New York designers — such as Marc Jacobs, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors, Alexander Wang, Proenza Schouler, Tommy Hilfiger and even von Furstenberg — show outside the IMG venues and thus are likely to use the CFDA-backed logo.
By the look of things, it appears that the CFDA, a not-for-profit trade association, seeks to exert greater control over fashion week, and Kolb isn’t denying that.
“When you look at the city, you have a couple of key pieces involved. You have what IMG does at their new venues. That’s a significant part of fashion week, and obviously critical because they create space that is needed for designers that otherwise might not be available. Then you have what Made is doing, which is also a significant part of the shows. Collectively, that’s about a third of the shows that are happening. You also have a lot of shows at Spring Studios and Pier 59 and some of the other Skylight facilities. We wanted to create a New York Fashion Week brand that unified the group venues and the independents,” said Kolb.
Asked how CFDA’s plans fit in with what IMG does, Kolb replied: “What IMG does is still a significant part and nothing’s really changed. Their role is the same as it always has been. This is really meant as more of a unifier to all the things that happen beyond just what IMG does.”
He said when they started the idea of a campaign, they met with IMG and Made. “The campaign was developed with their knowledge, understanding and support. It’s not news to anyone. It’s all part of a bigger strategy for the CFDA. It connects to the calendar. It’s the extension of the official schedule. We are the keeper of the schedule. It definitely has a direct connection to that. For us, it’s the full breadth of what happens during NYFW and connecting all of that,” said Kolb.
He stressed that the CFDA has no interest in becoming show producers again, as it was when it was running 7th on Sixth prior to selling it to IMG in 2001. The CFDA is producing Men’s Fashion Week because the industry rallied and the group stepped forward, said Kolb. “But we won’t step back into producing any venues. We’re overseers, we’re organizers, we’re schedulers, we’re oversight, that’s all we are. NYFW is more than just a group venue, it’s all the shows that happen in Chelsea galleries, in people’s studios. We’re creating a connection. You still have the power and the importance of what IMG does and the significance of what Made does. It connects everything that happening,” said Kolb.
NYFW could encompass the fashion schools, museums, restaurants, or a brand with a store in Paris, who wants to advertise “as Seen in New York Fashion Week,” he said.
“It’s meant to create great visibility for New York Fashion Week, which is such an important cultural influence and economic boost for this city,” added Kolb. He noted that London, Milan and Paris all have neutral generic brands, and “we’ve created the same thing.”
The campaign and logo will be launched for New York Fashion Week: Women’s, which is scheduled from Sept. 10 to 17. The CFDA will promote and share content from NYFW on CFDA.com and its social channels.
The primary colors of the launch campaign – orange and blue – are taken from the flag of New York City. Splits in the lettering suggest both garment stitches and city street lines, while the city’s grid of the five boroughs is used as a graphic overlay in some campaign images. The campaign will be used for all fashion markets, including New York Fashion Week; Men’s (next season), bridal and the resort and pre-fall collections.
Retailers, cultural institutions, fashion schools and others can support New York Fashion Week by using the official fashion week logo, subject to approval, said Kolb. To obtain usage rights, they must follow specific guidelines and submit an application to the CFDA. There is a $25 processing fee to be applied to CFDA programming. The association plans to promote the campaign through a joint marketing effort with NYC & Co., the city’s marketing and tourist organization, and is working with venue producers, designers and media firms to place the campaign. The CFDA will work with NYC & Co. for the outdoor campaign, which will feature fashion imagery and photos of collections.
“Each season will have different art direction,” he said.
Kolb said the campaign gives people an opportunity to use NYFW, regardless where they show. For example, if you’re a designer in Brooklyn and you’re not part of a group venue, you can use that logo. “It’s a mark to celebrate and to create more visibility to NYFW, the industry and the city,” he said.
In February, de Blasio, a strong supporter of New York fashion, unveiled a $15 million initiative to support “Made in New York” fashion. He outlined new and enhanced programs that are expected to directly support and spotlight manufacturers, emerging designers and students in the city.
“CFDA’s new campaign will further strengthen New York Fashion Week’s global impact — providing an inclusive brand for all to use throughout the week,” said de Blasio. “The fashion industry is more vital than ever when it comes to our city’s economic future — employing 180,000 people and generating $2 billion a year in tax revenue. That’s why we’ve tripled our investment to support and elevate the manufacturers, designers and students here in New York who make this industry and this city so great. New York Fashion Week is key to that work, highlighting New York City’s centrality to the industry and attracting people from across the globe.”