(Click on image for full size - photo credit: BFA)
New York Fashion Week is notoriously chaotic. Though Lincoln Center serves as the hub, there are over three hundred shows and presentations which take place all over the city often overlapping with four or five events scheduled simultaneously during any given hour. Fashion GPS to the rescue! Fashion GPS, a web-based virtual employee, started in 2006 and today organizes the fashion industry by handling the entire process of sending out and following up on samples, creating reports, managing requests, forecasting, taking reservations and displaying look books. Launched in late 2011, GPS Radar is a web and iPhone application created specifically for the fashion community. GPS Radar’s main purpose is to streamline the traditional fashion show process. Radar users are able to manage invites, map out events, create personalized look books and share them through various social media outlets.
On Monday evening bloggers, PR specialists, designers and even students gathered at the House of Bumble (a lovely, airy space with huge windows and impressive views of the river) in the Meatpacking District to kick off a series of conversations initiated by Fashion GPS and to celebrate the debut of the newest features of GPS Radar. “Technology and Fashion Week,” the evening’s theme, was the first in an ongoing series which will explore the fashion industry’s connection with technology and its rapidly evolving digital demands.
Fashion GPS CEO Eddie Mullon had just flown in from London and despite battling a bit of jet lag and a cold, the polite Brit mingled with guests during the cocktail hour. Later, he took the stage to say a few words. “We started this series to communicate so that we can listen and deliver the right technology to you,” he said. “Our goal is to improve and foster communication within the industry.”
Prior to the commencement of the panel discussion, the creator of New York Fashion Week and consultant to Fashion GPS, Fern Mallis recounted life before modern technology when cell phones were, as Mallis put it, “as big as bricks” and digital cameras did not exist. “At the end of each show, the crew cleaned up the photographer’s platform and there were thousands of film cases left behind,” Mallis said. “Probably the only person who still shoots with film today is Bill Cunningham and he is too much of a gentleman to leave his canister behind.”
Parsons Dean of Fashion Simon Collins served as the evening’s moderator. The expert panel included of some of fashion week’s key players from different arenas: Dirk Standen, Editor-in-Chief, Style.com; Peter Levy, SVP Managing Director, IMG Fashion; Jenné Lombardo, Fashion Director & Curator, Milk Studios and Milk Made; and Rachna Shah, Senior Vice President, KCD Worldwide.
Collins asked all the panelists how things have evolved for them and what changes have they encountered over the last several years. The common denominators were speed and volume. Standen responded, “Three or four years ago we published all the reviews and pictures by six in the morning so that people could see them when they got to work.” He continued, “At the time, everyone thought it was so amazing to have the shows up within twenty four hours, but if we did that today, we’d be dead.” Rachna Shah expressed the need to accomplish more in a timely manner. She also said, “There are so many designers who want to show and so many brands that need to be exposed. So, how can we help share their message and make it more enjoyable for them?”
A hot topic of the evening was live shows versus online shows. On one hand, Lombardo felt that social media and e-commerce drove sales and, therefore, believed that digital and online were important. “Designers should be creating content and putting money into building their brand image until they get to the point when they can show,” said Lombardo. On the other hand, Standen debated that there was still something special about the live experience. “There is often a different quality that you can see live that you can’t always appreciate online,” he said.
Collins took a few questions from the audience before wrapping up and when asked (by the editor of this publication) why it seemed as though many of the big designers didn’t show at Lincoln Center and opted for other venues throughout the city, IMG’s Peter Levy didn’t exactly answer the question, but may have had the best reply of the night. “If Marc Jacobs decided to show on the moon, you’d better believe we’d figure out how to get a rocket ship there.”
Sponsors for the event included: Bumble and bumble, in.digital, SVEDKA, fancy girl table and VOGA.
- Stacy Lomman
2012 Rising Star Finalist – Women’s RTW