I am just going to go ahead and say it: I do not like attending New York Fashion Week. And I mean that in a genuine way, not in the way someone may say they hate it while secretly being excited about it and mentally computing the outfits they’re going to wear even as they explain to you how much they don’t enjoy it. I sincerely do not like it—a fact that could be considered ironic given that I love fashion, obsess over designers and generally enjoy New York. And yet still, Fashion Week holds no real pull for me. My magnetic force, it seems, is immune.
Why exactly this is true is something I’ve given a lot of thought to since I last went a few years ago. It was then I realized I wasn’t enjoying it, and the next season I sent an editor from the magazine I was running so that I didn’t have to return. I haven’t gone back since.
Photo: Getty Images
So what was it that turned me off? Truth be told, it was a few things. I was last there during the February shows so there was the weather factor, which that year was a mix of driving rain and snow topped off by brutally cold temperatures. (Please note that while I reside in LA, I actually love both winter and snow, so it was not the cold that scared me but the intense combo of the weather with the already challenging city that is New York.) The conditions didn’t only make getting from show to show difficult, it made getting dressed nearly impossible. There is so much pressure around dressing a certain way for Fashion Week—something that was hard enough for me when packing my LA wardrobe into a New York-bound suitcase—but factor in the need for legitimately warm pieces and (somewhat) sensible shoes that could stand up to the elements and getting dressed became a puzzle I just couldn’t crack. I either veered toward something that resembled costuming or something that felt far too boring. Each morning I was paralyzed by the thought of putting together an outfit, which resulted in a feeling of defeat before I even got a foot out the door.
Then once I made it to a venue—usually soaked through to the bone—there was an endless stream of bloggers, vloggers and the like dressed to the nines (and, judging from their ensembles, seemingly immune to the freezing temps) vying for the attention of street-style photographers outside. I started to wonder: Were the shows supposed to be inside the venues or outside them? With all the crazy ensembles and contrived posing taking place outside, I wasn’t really sure.
Photo: Adam Katz Sinding
Once inside the shows, the feeling of being at the wrong lunch table in high school was only magnified. As I looked around, there were the major buyers, top editors and high-profile celebs filling the front rows naturally, but there were also plenty of people in prime seats who seemed more into capturing the models on their iPhones than they were into actually seeing the pieces coming down the runway. In fact, a few times I had to twist and turn in my seat to dodge the phones blocking my view. Knowing every look from the shows could be found online almost immediately after it came down the catwalk made me start to question why I was there at all.
Photo: Getty Images
We all know the Internet and social media have changed the industry in countless ways, but it seems they’ve also changed the experience of Fashion Week and what the event is all about. Are the designers still doing the shows for the buyers and major editors, or is it now more about the pomp and circumstance around the runways rather than what comes down them? I have a feeling the answer lies somewhere in the middle. What became evident was that for someone like me—at the time the Editor-in-Chief of a smaller, indie magazine—Fashion Week was no longer a place I needed to be nor a place I felt welcome. I didn’t appreciate the collections and designers any less, but if Fashion Week was in fact the cool table in the high school cafeteria, it seemed there wasn’t a chair left for me. And weirdly, I was ok with that.
All of that said, I understand the importance of Fashion Week, the need to be seen, “stay in the game” and be in the thick of all the action. And for those whose jobs require they attend, there is more to take away than just what happens at the shows. The trends and styling seen on the chicest attendees are sometimes just as interesting and inspiring as what the models are wearing.
Photo: Getty Images
A few years have passed, and I am now the Editor-at-Large of this website, a role that does not require I attend Fashion Week. Our Editorial Director goes to New York (as does our EIC of course) to dive into and revel in all the chaos. They both thrive on it, always delivering back to us a plethora of new trends and designers to keep our eyes on.
For me, reading about the shows online and clicking one by one through the looks on the new Vogue Runway will absolutely suffice. Does that mean I care any less about fashion or next season’s collections? I don’t think so. When it comes to getting dressed, most people wear what makes them feel good and what they respond to, so the same should apply to how people choose to experience fashion. And the truth is, I would rather experience it from the comfort of my desk. The best part? I can do that in comfortable shoes.