It was announced today that the yearly free-cocktail-and-shopping bacchanal—otherwise known as Fashion’s Night Out—will not be returning to the U.S. for the first time since it launched in 2009, reported Women’s Wear Daily.
The event—held in September and regarded as an unofficial kickoff to Fashion Week—was launched at the height of the recession in New York with an aim to jump-start the city’s economy by boosting retail sales. The sponsors of the event—Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co.—apparently made the joint decision to go on hiatus so retailers and designers can focus their efforts on projects that are more in line with their specific objectives, rather than a big one-night event, according to WWD.
While its intentions were noble, FNO became something of a thorn in the fashion industry’s side, largely due to the massive crowds beating down the doors of various stores, and the fact that it’s unclear whether FNO actually brought in additional sales for participating retailers. However, on the flip side, it was also something the non-industry public looked forward to immensely.
Here, we break down three reasons we think the hiatus could be a good thing, and why it might not be.
It’s canceled—here’s why that’s a good thing
1. It’s a challenge to make an event truly successful if the players behind it don’t fully support it. In the past, we’ve interviewed designers and fashion insiders who’ve rolled their eyes and scoffed at FNO—off the record, of course—and said they only take part because they feel they have to.
2. New Yorkers not participating in FNO dreaded the yearly event mostly because of the sheer amount of people—mostly wide-eyed fashion fans willing to wait on hour-long lines to play beer pong with designers at department stores, or the chance to mingle with celebrities at boutiques—that fill the streets. Since nearly every store in the city takes part, no neighborhood is safe from the maddening crowds.
3. As WWD pointed out, it’s debatable whether FNO actually nets participating retailers additional sales. Specialty items created for the night—like a DVF-designed tote or a limited-edition T-shirt—often sell, but those items are fairly inexpensive and they’re created as just another vehicle to get folks into the stores to buy the core merchandise. Factor in the cost of staging such huge events (free booze, food, DJs, celebrity appearances, giveaways, staffers’ hours of planning, etc), and it’s easy to see why it just might not be worth it for retailers.
It’s canceled—here’s why it’s not so good
1. FNO was one of the few events that offered the public a sense of inclusion. The fashion industry is notoriously closed off—cliquey, some might say—so opening its doors to anyone who wanted in made folks feel like they were part of the action, even if it’s just for a night.
2. Though there’s a chance the event didn’t immediately boost sales for some retailers, it might have afterwards. One of the objectives was to get people into stores they normally wouldn’t enter, which in turn raises brand awareness, potentially boosting sales at a later date. (For example, a young fashion fan may never have been aware of, say, Ferragamo and ducks into the into the store for free Champagne on FNO. While there, they might decide they absolutely love the brand).
3. Over the past four years, WWD reported that FNO raised more than $1 million for the NYC AIDS Fund, making it worthwhile from a charity standpoint. However, CFDA CEO Steven Kolb told WWD that the organization is “something we’ll continue to support in other ways.”
Keep in mind the hiatus only applies to the U.S. Nicky Eaton, a spokeswoman for Condé Nast International, confirmed to WWD that FNO will continue internationally in 19 countries.