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New York Fashion Week, held in February and September of each year, is a semi-annual series of events (generally lasting 7-9 days) when international fashion collections are shown to buyers, the press, and the general public. It is one of four major fashion weeks in the world, collectively known as the "Big 4", along with those in Paris, London, and Milan. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) created the modern notion of a centralized "New York Fashion Week" in 1993, although cities like London were already using their city's name in conjunction with the words fashion week in the 1980s. NYFW is based on a much older series of events called "Press Week", founded in 1943.
It has consisted of numerous branded events, such as Olympus Fashion Week New York and MADE Fashion Week, and many independent fashion productions around town.
Producers of New York Fashion Week include IMG, The SOCIETY Fashion Week, FTL Moda in conjunction with Fashion Week Online, Style 360, Art Hearts Fashion, Style Fashion Week, and ASC Fashion week among others.
A centralized calendar of citywide events (including those affiliated with WME/IMG) is kept by the CFDA, and was acquired from calendar founder Ruth Finley.
The economic impact of New York Fashion Week is estimated at $887 million.
The first New York Fashion Week was created in 1943 by Eleanor Lambert, press director of the American fashion industry's first promotional organization, the New York Dress Institute.
The event, the world's first organized fashion week, was called "Press Week", and was created to attract attention away from French fashion during World War II, when fashion industry insiders were unable to travel to Paris to see French fashion shows. It was also meant to showcase American designers for fashion journalists, who had neglected U.S. fashion innovations.
Press Week was a success, and fashion magazines like Vogue, which were normally filled with French designs, increasingly featured American fashion.
By the mid-1950s, the event was known as "Press Week of New York". Spring 1951 (held February 1951) was the 16th Annual Press Week of New York.
Consolidation as "7th on Sixth"
In 1993, the CFDA, led by president Stan Herman and executive director Fern Mallis, consolidated the citywide events known as "New York Fashion Week" by staging them in a cluster of white tents in Bryant Park. The event was branded with the trademark "7th on Sixth."
In 2004, the camera company Olympus became a sponsor of IMG's events, which were then renamed "Olympus Fashion Week."
In 2007, Mercedes-Benz became title sponsor of the IMG-produced events, adding New York to its roster of international "Mercedes-Benz fashion weeks," and dubbing it "MB Fashion Week New York."
In 2014, the CFDA acquired FashionCalendar.com from Ruth Finley, who had managed it (originally in paper, then digital format) for more than 60 years.
In January 2015, Mercedes-Benz announced its departure as title sponsor from WME/IMG's events. Producer Kanye West announced he would gladly take over sponsorship of the event.
In March 2015, WME/IMG announced that it had acquired MADE Fashion Week, which takes place during WME/IMG's events.
In 2015, IMG's events were moved from Lincoln Center to Spring Studios.
Following the loss of Bryant Park and later Lincoln Center as hosting site for New York Fashion Week, the event is no longer held in one central location. Locations have included a waterfront carnival, converted railway terminals and a former post office.
Other notable events
Outside entrance, Spring 2009 New York Fashion Week
In February 2014, Dr. Danielle Sheypuk became the first wheelchair-using model to appear in a show for New York Fashion Week; she modeled for designer Carrie Hammer.
In September 2014, Karen Crespo became the first quadruple-amputee to walk at New York Fashion Week, also for Carrie Hammer.
On December 12, 2014, a New York state court approved a settlement in a lawsuit by community activists over whether allowing the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents in Damrosch Park was a violation of the public trust doctrine. In accordance with the settlement, the City of New York, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, and Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts agreed not to renew their contract with IMG. As a result, the February 2015 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was the last one staged in Damrosch Park.
In 2014, New York State passed legislation designating models under the age of 18 as child performers, restricting the hours they can perform and requiring additional documentation.
The fall/winter 2015 shows took place from February 12-19. In that week, actress Jamie Brewer became the first woman with Down syndrome to walk the red carpet at New York Fashion Week, which she did for designer Carrie Hammer.
The spring/summer 2016 shows took place from September 10-17, 2015 at two new locations, Skylight at Moynihan Station in Midtown and Skylight Clarkson Square in SoHo. The economic impact of these shows was estimated to be $900 million and attendance was approximately 125,000 people.
In December 2015, the CFDA announced that it had hired the Boston Consulting Group to study revising the format of New York Fashion Week to adapt to changes brought about by social media. One option being explored is to bifurcate the event, with private showroom appointments of next season's designs for buyers and public fashion shows displaying in-season merchandise for consumers.
The first New York Fashion Week dedicated menswear shows, called "New York Fashion Week: Men's," were produced by the CFDA in 2015.
Fall/winter 2016 events took place February 11-18, 2016 at a variety of locations around New York City, including Skylight Moynihan, Skylight Clarkson, Chelsea Piers, MADE Studios, and showrooms around town.
The season ended with a number of designers either experimenting with, or planning to adopt, a "see now, buy now model," with items available from the runway immediately after (or even during) the show, rather than six months later. The charge was led by brands such as Burberry, although experiments in the format can be traced back to earlier shows by designers such as Diane von Furstenberg.
Spring/summer 2017 events will be held September 8-15, 2016. (Fashion weeks are traditionally named for the season the clothes will appear at retail, six months after the events, although the trend may be changing due to fundamental shifts in the retail cycle.)
The advent of "see now, buy now" shopping is expected to further transform fashion week, as collections become "in season" and select items are offered from the runway in real time.
Fall/winter took place February 5-8, 2018, and spring/summer 2019 took place September 6-14, 2018. In February, major venues were Spring Studios, among others.
Fall/winter 2019 took place on February 6-13, 2019. This NYFW was notable for several reasons. Nine of the ten most booked models for NYFW were models of color. In this season's NYFW, 45.8% of the models booked were people of color, a 1 percentage point increase from the previous season's show. The model with the most bookings was Mayowa Nicholas (Nigeria) with 13 shows, including Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, and Anna Sui. This season was historic because for the first time, a transgender designer showed at NYFW. Pierre Davis, a transgender woman of color and founder of NO SESSO, debuted an agender collection. The label, which is run by Davis and her partner Arin Hayes, creates "a world of fashion and art inclusive of LGBTQ and ethnic identities."
Admission to shows at New York Fashion Week is typically in the form of accreditation, with specific events by invitation only.
No "official" New York Fashion Week
In spite of CFDA's claim to run the "official" New York Fashion Week calendar, and as further purported by publications such as Women's Wear Daily, it has been pointed out in publications such as The Fashion Law that CFDA has "little, in any, legal rights in the NYFW name". Therefore, trademark rights remain unclear, at best.
In 2013 Fashion Week Inc., founded by business executive Trisha Paravas, registered the trademarks "New York Fashion Week," "NYFW", and "NYFW The Runway Shows" to use in conjunction with the production of its consumer-based fashion shows after realizing the current slate of New York Fashion Shows were invitation-only and designed for industry professionals and media.
Trisha Paravas launched bi-yearly shows in December 2013 and initially called them "New York Fashion Shows." After her first few shows drew increasing interest, she decided to rebrand it. At the time, Paravas claimed there was no trademark filed for "New York Fashion Week," and filed for "New York Fashion Week" trademark, along with the abbreviation "NYFW."
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Inc. (CFDA) lacked registrations for the "New York Fashion Week" trademarks, and tried to cancel Fashion Week Inc's registrations. Nonetheless, the CFDA was unsuccessful in its effort to have Fashion Week, Inc.'s "New York Fashion Week" trademark cancelled.
On August 12, 2016, the court denied Paravas and Fashion Week Inc.'s motion for a preliminary injunction. Judge Koeltl held that although Fashion Week, Inc. does have rights in the New York Fashion Week trademark, those rights are "limited" to "online entertainment ticket agency sales." On the other hand, the court held that the CFDA and WME IMG enjoy rights in the mark for the "broad ambit of organizing and producing fashion shows."