As New York Fashion Week ramps up and sets the tone for the global fashion industry’s fall run of events in London, Milan and, finally, Paris, there will be the usual legions convening at Lincoln Center and venues dotted around Manhattan to view upwards of 80 designer collections created for the spring season next year.
And while many will attend the old-fashioned way, new and improved offerings from the digital realm mean not only that there’s less of a reason to be there in person than ever before but also that you don’t have to fret about who to wear.
"The industry transformed in the last few years in terms of how it uses audiovisual," says Charlie Muirhead, CEO of Rightster, a London–based video distribution platform partnering with Mercedes Benz Fashion Week producer IMG Fashion to live-stream more than 30 runway shows this week and next.
From better live streams to interactive smartphone photography displays and a raft of original content styled around industry insiders, here’s how to take part without braving the crowds or a single pair of uncomfortable shoes:
Along with offering more than 30 live shows and 80 on-demand videos via the Maybelline-sponsored YouTube channel LiveRunway, IMG Fashion is upping the ante this fall by working with Rightster, a partner of the British Fashion Council for several years. The collabo makes embeddable players featuring live and on-demand videos available to media and bloggers via a special log-in. Media may then share the live content online without sending a video crew or hunting and pecking for live-stream embed code from different sources. Fashion audiences will be able to watch the videos in one place—whether it’s a favorite blog or a national media outlet’s website.
"We can make it a really easy experience to sit back at home and experience what was a very exclusive event historically and designed for the industry," says Rightster’s Muirhead.
Yet more opportunities to view shows by live stream are available on designers’ own web and social media properties, and what is being billed as the online-only fashion show is set to unfold in October from Singapore during Digital Fashion Week, which plans to eschew front row seating for an audience that will watch over YouTube and buy items directly from the runway.
If toggling back and forth between fashion influencers’ Twitter streams, Instagram feeds, and Pinterest boards while watching a runway live stream feels like an exercise in poorly managed distraction, take comfort in this season’s spread of smoothly integrated social media content.
Starting in February with the Marc Jacobs Fall 2012 collection, Palo Alto’s BumeBox makes it possible for designers to present live runway shows on their own websites alongside social media communications, store links, and customized content in a branded environment. This week and next, the company will partner with video company B Productions to deploy shows live via the web from Jacobs, Tory Burch, Michael Kors, and Donna Karan, among others. Attractive to brands because it gives them control over the look and feel of the page airing their live stream in a way third party websites do not, BumeBox’s technology is also a boon for viewers seeking simultaneous, one-click-away access not only to a label’s online store, but also to Twitter updates, Instagram photos, and Pinterest pins created by designers and show guests the very moment the models saunter down the runway.
Should hanging out with designers such as Rebecca Minkoff and other industry vets appeal to you, you can do so this week during a handful of web-based meetups. On Sept. 7, fashion startup Lyst plans to host a Google+ Hangout, which allows invited guests who submit questions deemed worthy enough to warrant attendance to converse with Minkoff, Teen Vogue’s Eva Chen, and others via web cam before the designer’s show.
Also coinciding with Fashion Week festivities are a series of web-based how-to sessions led by a cadre of Brooklyn makers of handcrafted skincare products such as Phoenix Botanicals and Sprout, recently selected by French Vogue and experts to be stocked at taste-making Parisian store Colette. Running Sept. 10-14 and open to anyone with a web cam, the hour-long meetups promise how-tos for at-home skin detoxes, skincare products, and lip balm, among others, and take place on educational web cam platform PowHow.
Your smartphone images can become part of Fashion Week, regardless of your location. Snap an Instagram pic and tag it with #amexfashion, and it could very well end up displayed alongside the street style shots of well-known fashion photographer, illustrator, and blogger Garance Doré on one of three interactive, 10-foot "Instagram Towers" set up by American Express at Lincoln Center. Each day, Doré will select approximately 150 images to appear on touchscreens whose image streams guests can pause, and scroll forward and back with their fingers.
The Hipstamatic app is also beckoning smartphone photogs to submit images taken with its recently released WMag FreePak in the name of New York Fashion Week. Top images appear on W magazine’s Facebook page each week, and a group of finalists will end up in an Ace Hotel exhibit, while one winner will be tapped to shoot a story for the magazine’s website.
Shopping Fashion Week collections directly from the runway by way of a brand’s website, social media, or interactive videos has yet to be fully realized or broadly adopted, but there are signs that fashion is continuing the experiment.
Along with the aforementioned plan by Digital Fashion Week to offer runway collections for purchase at during shows live-streamed to an online audience, another noteworthy attempt of late took place last week, when the label Cheap Monday made an online pop-up shop stocked with select items from its spring/summer 2013 line available to Facebook fans before the live-streaming of its show from Stockholm’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week. After the runway show, the shop became accessible to the public, but only remained open for a matter of days.
Even among those with seats at the top four fashion weeks, scoring one-on-one chats with designers, backstage access, and how-to tips from beauty pros styling the models are relative rarities reserved for a select few. Luckily for those craving the insider’s-eye view of the action, there’s a wealth of original content debuting this week and next with that very goal in mind.
Fashion advice, street style, and behind-the-scenes Fashion Week coverage are among the programming on tap this week and next on newly launched Style Coalition TV, a web video series hosted by fashion bloggers Dianna Baros of The Budget Babe, Julia Dinardo of Fashion Pulse Daily, and others from the Style Coalition’s member network.
Another twist on original content launching this week comes in the form of Backstage Pass, a microsite created by Spin.com and Refinery29. Along with celebrity correspondents MNDR and Whitney Port delivering Fashion Week missives, the site also aims to put the spotlight on music’s role in fashion by publishing playlists of the top tunes heard on the runways.
Arriving from French beauty brand Clarins this week is the Beauty Flash Blog, a video-heavy microsite anchored by the lives of the Clarins founder Jacques Courtin-Clarins’ four granddaughters. The site will convey the Courtin-Clarins girls’ "take on what happens at Fashion Week," as well as videos of their beauty routines, profiles of designer friends, and a trip through the oft-drooled-over racks of the Albright Fashion Library, says the company’s Melissa Barrett.
"These videos are un-styled, unscripted, unforced. You see Claire with a towel on her head…It’s so real and so raw that viewers are really going to connect with it," says Barrett.