Since his election as chairman of the Council of Fashion Designers in March, Tom Ford has been hard at work.
One of the designer’s first orders of business was to shorten New York Fashion Week. It’s a gripe of many in the past decade, especially as events have ballooned from industry-only to more consumer facing (for better or worse, depending on whom you ask).
For the spring ’20 season, which starts this week, Ford and the CFDA were able to shorten the duration of its schedule by one day, going from a Wednesday-to-Wednesday schedule to a Friday-to-Wednesday run. Ford moved his own show from the Wednesday eve of NYFW to Monday night. And Marc Jacobs, fashion week’s traditional closer, already moved from his longstanding Thursday night slot a few years ago, to Wednesday evening, in order to help condense London’s and Milan’s fashion weeks.
It’s a move that many could appreciate, but it’s still a symbolic one. The fact of the matter is that NYFW is not any shorter this season.
Yes, the CFDA calendar is shorter. But IMG’s NYFW: The Shows already began Wednesday, two whole days earlier than the CFDA’s official start day, kicking off with the Parsons MFA graduate show. Even Ford acknowledged that this put a damper on his efforts to make the week more concise. “This was new to me. I’m like, ‘IMG — who? What? Well, I’m glad to know this because I will have to take them on next season…But yes, the point of trying to do five days is trying to do five days,” he told WWD.
For any buyer, editor or executive whose business it is to survey all that fashion has to offer each season, this means that NYFW starts on a Wednesday and ends on the following Wednesday. It’s still a weeklong event — shorter than the grand, seemingly-never ending finale that is Paris Fashion Week, but longer than London and Milan.
The CFDA has named any shows outside of their schedule as “off calendar.” But if the industry still feels compelled to attend, does it matter what they’re called? Only until the competing forces of NYFW unite in a more cohesive way, in terms of venue, calendar, and overall organization, will the event ever feel different. Until then, count on fashion folk to continue to bemoan the lack of a Labor Day weekend holiday in the face of an overflow of email invites.
But Ford’s efforts are not all for naught. His more recent changes will have a more profound impact on affecting real change on the CFDA and NYFW in future seasons.
On Tuesday, the CFDA announced four new members to its board: designers Maria Cornejo, Carly Cushnie, Virgil Abloh and Kerby Jean-Raymond. It’s a selection that tells of the council’s specific effort to make itself a more diverse and inclusive body of authorities in the industry.
The addition of these designers should help the CFDA in multiple ways. It could help to bring some prestige brands (Altuzarra, Rodarte) back to NYFW. One might even wonder if Abloh’s nomination would lure him to bring his own Off-White label to New York, as a gesture of goodwill to the council.
But more importantly, the move will hopefully help foster real diversity and inclusion to the CFDA, especially in the realm of emerging designers. What is exciting about New York Fashion Week is the potential of the new. But the cost of putting on a show, of actually getting to NYFW, is prohibitive even for young designers with traction. And aside from designer like Tommy Hilfiger, consumer-facing events are still not fully realized. Hopefully, the CFDA’s new board members can help to actually breathe a new, modern and finally exciting life into NYFW. And that will be worth the extra day.