Here we go again.
IMG has announced a partnership with Spring Studios that will see New York fashion week move to the Tribeca space starting in February, WWD has reported. Some have called the location fashion week’s “new home”, but given the recent transience of the “localized” hub, it seems more apt to consider it NYFW’s new, temporary, Airbnb, especially since the CFDA is widely understood to be developing its own venue for the event at Hudson Yards, slated to be in session toward the end of next year. Don’t get too comfortable, comrades.
IMG has tellingly chosen not to expound on the terms of this partnership with Spring, but it will certainly be the venue in which sponsors will be sold space, and in which brands with tighter belts can get room on a budget—I’m reminded of the similarly named Springhill Suites. We’ve only had Skylight Clarkson Square since 2015, and before that a slightly more tenacious run at Lincoln Center—five years—but that luster dulled in scant few seasons and designers scattered. Before that, back in the olden days, before iPhones, BuzzFeed, and Bored Panda, when people didn’t need such sustained stimulation, we had good ol’ Bryant Park—17 years in those erected tents (Fern Mallis, you legend). Since then, though, we just can’t sit still—fashionable (probably Millennial) ants seem to be in everyone’s pants, and we must keep it moving.
Like the sleazy streets of Times Square in the ’60s, there are pros and there are cons. We all want an easy life, and schlepping from a show down at the South Street Seaport, all the way up to the Park Avenue Armory on 66th Street is neither easy, nor, more importantly, productive. A more centralized system is in everyone’s interests. Unfortunately, many of the designers who end up showing in these recent IMG-subsidized studio spaces, which are intentionally blank to be transformed by big-budget brands for their photo and video shoots, don’t have the wherewithal to transform anything, and you end up watching show after show in a big white box. Yes, the clothes should speak for themselves, but there is an undeniably essential element of conveying a more visceral vision, which is why designers, large and small, go to great lengths to find special spaces in which to present their collections.
For our ongoing piece on the industry’s perception of NYFW, we asked Neiman Marcus’ fashion director and SVP Ken Downing for his thoughts. “We have a bit of disorganization within our New York fashion week that needs to get fixed so we feel like a relevant industry and not an industry from the past,” he said. “I would like to see a central hub that creates a synergy and an energy for fashion week so that more shows are centrally located.” I think we can all agree on that, but it will only work if everyone is on board. You have to wonder why Designer A, who is showing at two o’clock downtown, hasn’t spoken to Designer B, who has found the perfect space uptown for his show at three. Go figure. It is undoubtedly important to have a centralized space, for myriad reasons, and Spring Studios is by far the chicest space NYFW has ever had—new, sleek, and suffused with so much sunlight, it’s like if God hired Philippe Starck to sex-up Heaven. If I was a betting man, I would bet there will still be the brands who ski off-piste, and that’s okay. But, just like Downing says, a little extra organization would go a very long way.