This event would be more aptly titled: Freeloader's Free For All. It's not about shopping, spending or buying. It's about (not) FREE publicity for the engine of the fashion industry (press, Anna and petting zoo members) and giving a ton of people the illusion for one night of being honorary members of the club. September 10th will be the equivalent of a ban on the velvet rope policy... in some places, not all. I don't know about you but I'm tired of the press blitz on this dubious Night of a Thousand Bars. I'm all for the regeneration of the idea of retail. Fashion is meant to be bought, worn and enjoyed. Stores, besides the Internet, are the best places to find it. It's an industry filled with very creative minds that need the renewed support of the masses but this is not the answer, but more a question. Why stage this Fabuganza when it appears not to have sold clothes? If stores still refuse to share the numbers of last years event, then there most likely are no numbers to share. It looks to have been a costly benefit with little or no paying guests.
There's nothing wrong with a great party that is open to the world I only object to the pretense that this shindig actually makes money for stores and designers. What I saw last year were a few stores (Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys and Saks) filled with lots of drunk people whose hands held drinks and nibbles, not shopping bags. It was an electric atmosphere that was really exciting but not one with hordes lined up at cash registers or crowding dressing rooms. I expected to see action you see at a huge sale where everyone dispenses with modesty and strip in the aisles. I didn't see any of that. Shoe departments were overrun and some designers making personal appearances were swarmed with adoring fans, but no shopping. When I went to the top floor of Barneys and chose a few coffee table books I was the only person on the floor and that included the sales people. It took 15 minutes to find someone to take my money. I bet a number of people honed their shoplifting skills that night. I can't be sure of that because no stores are coming clean regarding the outcome of the event. I bet there was a bit of free shopping that went on that was an unexpected loss for some. I'm just speculating, but the environment was perfect for it. When I was leaving Barneys to head to Saks, I was one of the very few people I saw with a shopping bag.
I hope the night does more this year. I think the expectations of doing business have been lowered considering the big ticket items are T-shirts and fake Barbi dolls. I feel kind of bad for the designers who have to tear themselves away from the last minute preparations for shows. It would make more sense to throw the party the last night of the shows but whatever. I'll still go to see all the drunk hordes clogging Madison, Fifth and the Meatpacking district. It's more a spectacle than anything else and at best a night where there are some signs of life.
The ACL Newsletter
4 weeks ago