Rebecca and Uri Minkoff

Is Los Angeles becoming New York Fashion Week West come February? The latest designer to decamp to the warmer climes of the City of Angels is Rebecca Minkoff, who will present her see-now-buy-now runway show there.

She will join Tommy Hilfiger, Rachel Zoe and Tom Ford, who all plan to show their collections in Los Angeles in February ­— lending credence to the growing importance of the city as a fashion capital.

Of the four designers, three of them — Minkoff, Hilfiger and Ford — all showed see-now-buy-now collections last September during New York Fashion Week. The fourth major brand to do so at NYFW last season — Ralph Lauren — will continue to show in New York.

Minkoff, who pioneered the concept, will hold her spring runway show at The Grove, Rick Caruso’s retail, dining and lifestyle destination. She will partner with The Grove on several consumer experiences integrating retailers at the lifestyle center with her brand, providing a runway-to-retail experience. The plan has been in the works for several months.

The show will take place on Feb. 4, five days before New York Fashion Week begins.

“Last season, when we took our [September] show to the streets of SoHo, we saw just how eager our consumer was to be part of the brand experience. There was a three-hour line around the block just to get into the store to shop,” said Uri Minkoff, chief executive officer of Rebecca Minkoff. “This season we wanted to take the experience to one of our biggest markets: Los Angeles. Besides allowing her to see the runway show and see the collection, we will give her one of the biggest luxuries that we see our Millennial consumer craving — the luxury of experience.”

Minkoff plans to partner with health and wellness, beauty and technology partners to bring their customer a full-day experience. “We see this as a spark in retail, not only for us, but for everyone involved,” he said.

The reasons the brand decided to go to Los Angeles were threefold: The company really enjoyed last season showing outside, the theme of the spring show has to do with California and a female discovering different parts of the state and the brand does a significant amount of e-commerce in California.

Minkoff partnered with Maybelline last season, which launched a product at the same time of the show. “It got us thinking that, ‘What if fashion week was beyond a fashion brand? What if we could take several different brands and partner together where the fashion event was a crescendo experience, but several partners could align together to do something?'” the ceo said.

The company plans to tie in with different brands outside the fashion space that have stores or are retail participants at The Grove. He’s still working out details as to which brands will participate. Minkoff plans to open a pop-up shop at The Grove during the month of February.

Minkoff said he chose The Grove because there’s been so much discussion about the troubles with retail, the slowdown in traffic to the mall and the growth of online.  The company felt that if it could introduce a new type of experiential model, it could have participating partners invite their own consumers, and each of the companies could show off their new products.

“You can actually create a localized retail rebirth. You have fashion, you have beauty, you have wellness, you have restaurants, you have electronics, you have auto possibly. You have all these different partners that are releasing new products or providing different experiences for their customers, and the fashion show becomes the halo and the big finale moment,” said Minkoff.

The show is planned for sometime around sundown. It will take place outside, and models will walk along the center’s trolley tracks. He said he expects between 5,000 and 10,000 people to be there. Minkoff plans to use a mix of models from New York and L.A.

The Los Angeles show will be the third see-now-buy-now one for the designer, who launched the idea at her spring 2016 show. The model has proven to be successful for the brand, with sales at its SoHo store increasing 128 percent since implementing the new concept. Minkoff’s brand spans ready-to-wear, bags, footwear, jewelry, eyewear and tech accessories. Accessories represent 85 percent of the business, but the designer’s freestanding stores do a healthy ready-to-wear business, said Minkoff. The designer has freestanding stores on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles, Chicago, in addition to locations in San Francisco and New York.

The Grove, developed by Caruso Affiliated in 2002, has tenants including Elizabeth and James, Barneys New York, Diane von Furstenberg, J. Crew, Apple, Vince, Nike, Nordstrom, Shinola, Tesla and Topshop Topman.

As reported, Hilfiger also decided to have his see-now-buy-now show in Venice Beach in Los Angeles, where he will show his women’s sportswear collection, as well as his Tommy x Gigi capsule collection. The show will be designed to reflect the California beach lifestyle that inspires the collection. The company will fly in most of the models, as well as hair and makeup for the show.

More than 3,000 press, buyers, industry influencers and consumers are expected to attend Hilfiger’s oceanside runway show on Feb. 8, the night before NYFW, which is Feb. 9 through Feb. 16 in Manhattan, kicks off.

“TommyNow is about inclusivity, fusing fashion and entertainment, celebrating pop culture, and connecting our global consumers to inspiring, unexpected fashion experiences,” Hilfiger said. “The casual, cool, chic look that is leading the fashion world this season was born and bred in L.A., and I knew this show would feel at home on Venice Beach.”

As for Zoe, she plans a presentation in Los Angeles on Feb. 1. She plans to show fall 2017 and some “see now buy now.”

“I’m still a small designer; I can’t take over the Griffith Observatory, but I felt it was time to own being an L.A. designer,” said Zoe earlier this month. The designer took her apparel business in-house this year. Zoe said she decided after her last New York show that it was time to switch coasts “for a minute.”

“It was our biggest and best-reviewed show yet, but I felt it was getting too big, and I’ve always been about a more intimate vibe, not a massive event,” she said. “I leave that to Tom, Tommy, Ralph and Marc, who have earned it.”

“No matter what, it will be glam and uncomplicated,” said Zoe, whose design offices and sales showroom are in New York, but whose company headquarters are in West Hollywood.

Ford plans an L.A. event as well, but details couldn’t be learned at press time. In February 2015, he held a fashion show in Los Angeles on the eve of the Oscars, and attracted such celebrities as Gwyneth Paltrow, Julianne Moore, Miley Cyrus, Jennifer Lopez and Scarlett Johansson to Milk Studios. This past September, Ford held a see-now-buy-now show in New York at the Four Seasons. The entire fall collection was shopable mere minutes after the models stepped off the stage.

On the city’s appeal to designers, Just One Eye owner Paola Russo said, “Los Angeles is becoming a bigger city with huge potential. New York real estate developers are coming to Los Angeles, and so is fashion. It’s just the beginning of it. I have been in the fashion business for almost thirty years and it’s exciting to see designers and brands embrace the West Coast lifestyle.”

Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, supports the movement West, saying, “I think it’s an opportunity to explore the [see-now-buy-now] idea in another market with a lot of consumers.” He also said it’s a chance to further the idea and generate business.

“This is an idea that some designers like and are embracing and think has value. Clearly L.A. is a big market with a lot of consumers. It’s a great opportunity to take that concept there and speak to those consumers directly and I think it’s a great thing,” said Kolb.

In terms of scheduling, Kolb said Hilfiger’s show is the Wednesday night before NYFW starts, and he assumes Ford will align with the Oscars again, but he doesn’t know for sure. And Minkoff is Feb. 4, the Saturday before NYFW.

“From logistical purposes, it doesn’t impact what’s happening in New York during NYFW, which will again will have a mixture of shows from see-now-buy-now to preview and hybrids, and also given the strong number of talented designers, we won’t be short on any talent that week. I think it’s a good thing. The whole idea is to explore different approaches to a fashion show, and falling outside of a defined week in a different city, it’s a great exploration.”

Catherine Bennett, senior vice president, managing director of IMG Fashion Events and Properties, show organizers for NYFW, said, “As we saw with our MADE LA event, Los Angeles is a dynamic market for designers interested in exploring the intersection of fashion, entertainment and art. It’s exciting to see designers bring their visions to new audiences, whether by showing in a different city, going direct to consumer through offerings like The Shops at New York Fashion Week, or exploring unique content opportunities that live globally.”

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