Why I Think Fashion Week Is Stupid
Like the swans returning to Capistrano or all your friends jumping off a bridge, it's that annual ritual where a million fashion students parade around in public wearing all of their thrift store accessories at once. It's New York Fashion Week, and it's driving me a little bit crazy. That's because Fashion Week is stupid.
I don't believe the fashion industry is stupid. I thank it every morning when I put the clothes on my back, no matter if they're real designer threads or some knockoff I got at Top Shop. But the growing idea that Fashion Week is a spectator sport that should be open to everyone with an Instagram account and a subscription to Vogue is baffling to me. Fashion Week is for fashion people, and that's the way it should be. Unless you work for a department store, retail boutique, fashion magazine, or stylist, you have no business being in the front row.
What people seem to forget is that these shows are not catalogs. This isn't like going to Barneys and looking at all the pretty frocks you can't afford. These shows exist to make money for the designers. How do they do this? By selling these clothes to retailers for astronomical prices. How do they pull off charging thousands of dollars for something made in China for a few bucks? By creating some kind of crazy brand mystique. How do they do that? By keeping you out of the fashion show.
Every fashion house's brand is built on the illusion of exclusivity, meaning they don't want you at their show. Having you there is bad for business. Marc Jacobs could rent out fucking Madison Square Garden and sell tickets for $50 a pop for people to come see his runway show if he really wanted to, but he would be out of business in a year. The point isn't to get people to see it; the point is to keep people out. Fashion, at least the aspirational luxury fashion that everyone is into, by its very nature is exclusionary.
Still, all the street-style bloggers and kids with fashion Tumblrs and ladies from New Jersey who consider themselves "fashionistas" because they really like Project Runway and diffusion lines at Target will wait in standing room lines just to get in. It's not to see the clothes. They can do that online, where every look is posted as soon as it's back behind the scrim with the designer's name. They can even watch many shows streaming live online. No, it's not for the clothes, it's for a sweet taste of being a part of the club. It's to make them feel more important.
But even if you do get in (and if you really want to go there's always some no-name designer with Real Housewives in the first row who you can probably trick into giving you a ticket), it can be pretty awful. Being in the anteroom of the tents at Lincoln Center is like living in those 20 minutes at the movies before the trailers start. It's a barrage of commercials for products you’ve never heard of and don't care about. Everyone's trying to get you to sit in a fancy car or drink lychee-scented vodka or try out some dumb camera that’s supposedly nicer than the one in your phone. It's like a bunch of carnival barkers luring you into a freak show, but the Siamese twins aren't Siamese at all, it's just two bitches shoved in the same dress.
On top of all that, fashion shows can be pretty uncomfortable, especially for the uninitiated. You have to give your name to 17 different PR girls wearing headsets like they're performing in the Super Bowl halftime show and none of them know anything. You wait in line, you bump and jostle, and finally you make it to your seat. You sit around for up to an hour for a 15-minute presentation where the gowns whisk by you faster than a junkie getting to the Methadone clinic. Then you wait in line, bump and jostle your way out. That's it. That is all. It is like sitting in the waiting room of a brothel where all the whores come out but you don't actually get to sleep with them.
Speaking of which, we need to talk about fashion parties. Sure, they seem glamorous and exciting, but it's sort of like going to your significant other's cousin's wedding. You won't know anyone there, and although a few people will come up and talk to you, everyone else will blithely ignore you while getting fucked up on free booze (yet again, sponsored) and doing bumps in the bathroom. What fun is a party if you're standing there in your best outfit all by yourself? And no one will ‘discover’ you there, no matter how you're dressed. No one has ever approached someone at a fashion party and said, "Nice outfit. Would you like to come work for me?" That has never once happened ever.
"But there will be models there!" you say. Oh, there will be. But I have news for you: the models will not fuck you. That is a truism in life. Unless you are a billionaire, a celebrity, some greasy photographer with a mustache and a big dick, or another model, then models will not fuck you. Period.
So why is anyone even bothering with fashion week? So they can be slighted, marketed to, ignored, and otherwise mistreated? Most of the people who are there—the buyers, editors, publicists, stars, models, designers, DJs, socialites, photographers—are paid to be there. What's your excuse?
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