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Fashion Week Beyond the Photo Shoots

What would the retail industry be without Fashion Week, the twice-a-year event series during which major designers launch their women’s ready-to-wear lines? What we see on the catwalk during this week highly influences consumer tastes – and sometimes behavior – in the coming season.

Fashion Week began in 1943 and seventy years later the event has grown into a series lasting more than a week, across four global locations, with major sponsors, streamed live to the public. This year Fashion Week in the U.S. takes place September 10 – 17. Last year, there were more than 275 events in the U.S. and this year’s calendar is similarly packed.

What most people know of Fashion Week they learn from pop culture. Whether Sarah Jessica Parker, Gwyneth Paltrow, Angelina Jolie or Kim Kardashian, readers want to know: who’s in the front row? Who’s wearing whom? Yet Fashion Week has more of an impact on the business world than a magazine spread.

Last year the New York Times published an economic report on Fashion Week at home and abroad. The article compares New York, Milan, Paris and London. New York lagged behind the other three locations in share of luxury brands using its event series to exhibit their clothing and accessories, but it has the most mainstream commercial appeal by a landslide. In 2012 it was reported that Fashion Week contributed an estimated $850 billion to the New York City economy. Fashion Week in the U.S. also has broader appeal as it is the only city among the four that also hosts a Men’s Fashion Week.

This year, U.S. Fashion Week will take place in a new location, moving out of Lincoln Center into two new spaces from The Skylight Group. The Skylight Group, an event venue and development firm, is the force behind redeveloping six New York City properties into raw event space. Fashion Week’s new destinations include a former post office processing facility and a former freight terminal. As this annual rite evolves and draws new, younger designers and followers, it also shows an increasing interest in the reuse of urban space to link past legacy with future potential. In addition, it’s clear that the high fashion world is as focused on the entire customer experience as mass-market retailers are.

Of course, we can’t leave this blog post without a note about how technology has changed the way people experience the retail world. Last year, Louis Vuitton developed an app to make the Fashion Week experience accessible, and more interactive, for people who are not able to be there in person.

While Fashion Week may be a peripheral event to many, the upcoming week’s events will lay the groundwork for the adoption of trends and technology throughout the retail industry.

Related topics: Retail