New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is an exclusive event, holding its own among the ranks of elite, global fashion weeks in Paris, Milan and London. The "who's who" and upper crust jet to these events, where what you wear is just as important as what the models wear. It is a chance to see and be seen, and your very presence marks your status in the fashion community.
To say the least, it is not meant for the trendy, working mother-of-two from suburbia. But that's all changing. With the rise of eCommerce and social media, people expect instant gratification from all retailers — and that's starting to extend to the fashion industry, too. Instead of competing for one of the few pricey tickets to a seat on the runway, taking a week off from your life, procuring a NYFW-worthy wardrobe, and jetting to New York, brands are starting to digitize the experience and inviting the everyday Jane to join in.
Fashion retailers are finding new ways to engage real-time with the customer during and after these events to make them digitally accessible in various ways. Some brands are livestreaming their NYFW runway shows, while some are putting edited runway video and digital experiences online within a few hours. Others are inviting the average customer backstage to see the whole process beyond the final runway – more than you could see as a NYFW attendee.
Showcasing their current season, some cutting-edge brands are creating digital experiences that allow customers to buy the runway products on the same day as the show via curated online experiences. While brands that are showcasing one or two seasons ahead cannot offer this instant shoppability, they are still finding ways to bring the runway experience to their customers.
Showcasing the brand's latest NYFW styles, even when the products aren't available for purchase yet, engages customers and gets them excited for what's to come. It's a great example of valuable brand content that Forrester shows increases conversions. Formerly, only the richest of the rich could watch the runway show, but brands are realizing that bringing this experience to the masses is the future of NYFW.
Depending on the season being shown, some brands are able to sell the clothes immediately after they make it to the end of the runway. It is democratizing what used to be an uber-exclusive event, and customers are responding — because it's not just about the purchase. The focus is on the experience, which is why retailers are falling over themselves to get these immersive images and video from their runway shows as soon as possible. This article was originally published in Apparel magazine on October 2nd, 2016.