It’s almost New York Fashion Week and Laurie DeJong has just arrived from a show construction site near Manhattan’s Penn Station. Par for the course, since DeJong, the CEO of LDJ Productions, is behind 65 fashion week shows, responsible for directing and producing one of New York’s biggest events.
On this week’s Glossy podcast, we caught up with DeJong to talk about how social media has changed fashion and her hacks for making it through the week alive. (Tip: Get a Metrocard and stick to the subway.)
The hardest part of doing a fashion show is finding a timeslot.
DeJong, who has worked with hundreds of designers, said that the size of NYFW is unprecedented: 300 shows, over eight days. The CFDA puts the calendar together, but individual designers have to pick time slots. DeJong gave the example of Mara Hoffman, who last year wanted to be in a slot after Christian Siriano, so she picked a venue that was near his show. “You want to be similar time slots, but without competitive designers.” And when big designers change venues and times, as Marc Jacobs or Calvin Klein did this year, there’s a domino effect.
The idea of fashion week has changed.
Social media has created in some ways a “split personality” for brands and their approaches to fashion week. For example, this year, Tommy Hilfiger is throwing a gigantic carnival spectacle paired with an intimate showing for buyers. “Fashion week used to be this big mystery,” said DeJong. “The reality is that the old business model of showing behind velvet ropes and going into stores six months later is not the case any more. As with anything else, fashion needs to change.” That has led to dual, or triple, or even hybrid approaches, which means more work for brands — and potential designer burnout.
Putting on a show is harder than ever.
If you look at the proscenium through which models enter runways, it’s perfect: not a dent, not a snag, not a tear. DeJong said that the runway has always been scrutinized under a camera, which leads to “exquisite” finishings. Now magnify that by a hundred: With livestreams and other tech tricks, a typical fashion show now has virtual reality, 20-odd rig cameras, GoPros, and thousands of phone cameras trained on it. “We have to make sure it’s 110 percent perfect.”
Designers have more choices than before.
DeJong said that the fashion show is certainly not dead, and not least because nothing can really replace it, for now. At the same time, the rise of hybrid models has given designers more choice. She’s seen some forgoing shows in favor of video and photo shoots. And technology keeps changing that: DeJong foresees a future where designers will skip shows entirely and distribute their collection on an app that buyers can shop from their phones. DeJong works with designers for months in advance trying to figure out the right approach — and often, if designers come without a strategy, she tells them to hold off on a show completely. “We want to part of building a brand,” she said. “And sometimes, building a brand isn’t about going out of the gate onto the runway.”