Steven Kolb, the president and CEO of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, joined Glossy+ members for a Slack Chat ahead of New York Fashion Week, on September 4. Responsible for leading the CFDA’s acquisition of the official Fashion Calendar, Kolb discussed the current role of NYFW, the state of see-now-buy-now and the possibility of a move to a June-December fashion week schedule.
The full conversation is available exclusively to Glossy+ members, but lightly edited excerpts appear below. Click here to join Glossy+.
A number of designers have opted out of runways shows and presentations in favor of showing collections on Instagram. Do you see that as a threat to fashion week?
I see it as “trying news ideas.” Fashion week will never go away — it is just a continued evolution that includes social. A designer recently shared with me his idea that fashion week should one day become like Ted Talks. That is modern thinking, and that is good for fashion!
How do you think the changes in fashion week and fashion shows have affected the retail side of things?
The buyers are still buying at fashion week. It is the immediacy that can be confusing to a consumer — remember, a fashion show is showing clothes six months in advance. Does the customer know she can’t get those clothes right away when she sees them posted [on social media]? She might want them now. That has forged the idea of see-now-buy-now and more reliance on e-commerce.
Tommy Hilfiger is killing it with see-now-buy-now. It isn’t right for all brands; it is not right for wholesale brands. It works best for brands that are more in control of their supply chain and distribution channels. Small brands can and should partner together and with retailers on it.
How significant are Rodarte’s and Proenza Schouler’s returns to NYFW? What would you say prompts brands to go somewhere else in the first place?
It is great that Rodarte and Proenza came back. I knew they would. [This season,] we also have Escada, Longchamp and Vivienne Westwood. Fashion weeks are more fluid with brands bouncing around. Proenza and Rodarte went to Paris to try early show dates, like what Alex [Wang] is doing in NYC. International brands come to NYC because of the huge market opportunity.