images of Alexander Wang’s studio courtesy of The Selby
In the frenzied lead up to New York Fashion Week, it seems there is a quiet revolution taking place behind the scenes. The conversation that surrounded Alexander McQueen and his decision to stream his other-worldy runway parade in real time over the internet has barely become a whispered memory and already countless designers are electing to stream shows of their own.
The Cut blog has reported that Alexander Wang, Calvin Klein, G-Star Raw, Rodarte and Marc Jacobs will be streaming their runways shows live from the catwalk at NYFW. As a fashion marketer and self-professed advocate of new media I feel like I should be penning each online event into my diary with excitement, but I can’t help but feel a little apprehensive.
One of the first posts I ever wrote for my blog posed thoughts on the speed of new media and its effects on the fashion industry. I wrote the post, A Reflection, in response to thoughts that crept into my mind after I saw The September Issue film, musing that the speed of new media such as Twitter is contradictory to the integrity of the fashion industry at large. I consider this discussion more relevant than ever given the immediacy of a live show stream.
backstage at Rodarte, image courtesy of Fashionista.com
On one hand, streaming their runway show on their own terms allows a designer to reclaim some control of the conversation that takes place about their brand during and in the moments after a show, without relying on those in the front row to do the tweeting. Each of the confirmed show streamers plan to do so via their own branded websites, with the exception of Alexander Wang and Rodarte (who have chosen to stream via ShowStudio.com). Showcasing the clothes directly to the masses lets the clothing speak for itself, in a language that is as on brand and as on message for the collection as it could possible be; streaming a collection live from the runway is an authentic reveal.
That said, exposing a consumer to a collection a season before it even becomes available to order, let alone touch or try on, is a dangerous flirtation. Starting a trend that can’t be bought into immediately is frustrating for consumers who have been conditioned by a culture of immediacy by the very same media channels that bring them the live stream in the first place. The time it takes for a designer to fill orders and produce enough pieces to fill the orders that pour in post fashion week is an eternity compared to the time it takes for a high street store to produce an army of replicas, and most consumers won’t bother holding out for the real thing.
There’s no doubt that new media is a critical ingredient of the fashion marketing mix, but with so much conversation still to be had, is the speed of online communication outpacing the motion of the fashion industry?