MEXICO CITY — Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico lifted its profile by integrating rival show Nook and Mexico’s Fashion Film Festival into its latest fall edition and staging it in some of the capital city’s key tourist spots.
The latest edition featured seven different locations, including the former Vizcainas convent, a colonial gem, and the Chapultepec Park Lake House.
It also showed the first fruits of last year’s merger between Fashion Week Mexico, Nook and MFFF, now in its second edition, in what Fashion Week Mexico managing director Cory Crespo said was a win-win alliance that helped bolster the week’s image against regional rivals Colombiamoda and São Paulo Fashion Week.
“This joint project is the maximum value we can have,” Crespo said. “It’s not just fashion and models but also fashion and filmmaking which is a macro-trend and is becoming very interesting from a content perspective,” on top of helping organizers reach new audience demographics.
MFFF, which teamed with its Berlin and Copenhagen peers to organize the show, involved a fashion-film contest (won by Spanish director Kevin Speight) to develop the genre in Mexico.
Johann Mergenthaler, now Fashion Week Mexico’s creative director, said the alliances stem from the platform’s desire to “grow and build a unique fashion week with a stronger impact.”
He said Nook — which had gained traction from highly creative shows — faced liquidity challenges, prompting him and Crespo to join forces last fall when the shows previously were held in Mexico City’s Campo Marte exhibition center. Mergenthaler’s Paragon Model Management had earlier supplied Fashion Week Mexico with models so the young executives had a working relationship.
“Johann has had a great creative and content influence and has brought designers that have enhanced our platform,” Crespo said. “In this industry, a merger of one-plus-one equals three.”
Those designers include Jakampot and Kris Goyri, as well as Colombian star Juan Carlos Obando. They all staged well-received shows during the week, where the dominant overall trends included retro, vintage and Mexican-chic looks.
Crespo expects revenues from the newly enlarged edition to rise 20 percent to an unspecified sum. Big investments to improve quality and production will pressure profits, however.
Fashion Week Mexico is set to create a new and larger company in which Mergenthaler will share ownership with Crespo, who also runs the expanding Colours public relations agency, and several other unnamed shareholders.
The week also drew new institutional and corporate sponsors, including the Mexico City Tourism Secretariat and Procter & Gamble’s Colgate and Head & Shoulders brands. Spanish jeweler Tous, which is expanding aggressively in Mexico and Latin America, was also a key sponsor alongside MAC, which provided model makeup.
Mexico’s National Entrepreneur Institute also took part, with business competitiveness director Mario Lopez revealing that the institute hopes to launch a fashion cluster to coach up to 30 designers this year and provide over $40,000 in financial support.
“This is the right moment for Mexican fashion,” Lopez said. “There is huge creativity and Mexico City’s government is realizing that.”
While past editions have drawn up to 35,000 people, the latest iteration had high digital goals with organizers hoping to double Facebook, Twitter and Instagram interactions to 100 million from 50 million last April.
During the fourth day — organized in partnership with a Vogue and GQ Magazine event exploring the meaning of luxury and featuring actor Colin Farrell — the platform was on its way to achieve that with hashtag activity surpassing Madrid Fashion Week’s last edition and coming close to New York Fashion Week’s, Mergenthaler claimed.
Thirty local and four international buyers attended Fashion Week Mexico, which featured 25 runway shows. Crespo declined to provide sales forecasts but said the staff is working to bring more international buyers and help bolster designer revenues.
“The first strategy is to polish our calendar and understand our locations well,” Crespo said, adding that the next edition will likely take place in various locations showcasing city landmarks. “In past editions, designers came but we didn’t have much to show [from a commercial perspective]. There was runway creativity but the business structure was not set up for them to sell.”
“In the next edition marking our 10 years there will be a specific focus and initiative to bring new buyers and accompany and follow-up the sale,” he added.
The shows drew a string of soap opera stars and actresses like Jacqueline Bracamontes (who is hosting singing talent contest “The Voice of Mexico”) as well as actor Steven Cole of “Game of Thrones.” Mexican emerging model Alejandra Guilmant was a fixture on many designer runways.
Mexican department stores Saks Fifth Avenue Mexico and Liverpool sent buyers.
“It was very good,” Saks buyer Rafael Ortega said of the show, adding that he will buy Jakampot, French-Mexican designer label Cihuah, Pink Magnolia and Sandra Weil, which it carries in its Santa Fe district store.
Ortega liked Alfredo Martinez, whose line of “Paris retro-chic” dresses won praise, and new designer Jorge Ayala, who showed a range of colorful and high-end poncho looks. But he said he won’t buy them until he gauges future collections.
“We have to see how they evolve,” Ortega noted. “We’ve had collections that were great one season but not so good the next.”
Observers stopped short of saying the week, which has often been viewed as a socialite party instead of a serious fashion event, is coming of age. Mexican fashion expert Anna Fusoni, who runs a designer-development platform, noted there is still much work to do.
“It’s improving and the idea of doing multiple venues makes it more eclectic, more fun,” she said. “They have boosted their image but now they have to live up to the higher expectations. Increasing your image is one thing but to bring the quality shows and designers you need [on an ongoing basis] is another.”