Begun in 2009 by Anna Wintour, Vogue editor, and championed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) and NYC & Co., the event grew from a mostly New York-based one in 2009 to 500 U.S. cities and 30 cities internationally. Designers and celebrities mingled, danced and generally partied with consumers as a way to bring retail into focus at the start of the all-important fall selling season.
Steven Kolb, CFDA chief executive, said today that he was proud of what Fashion’s Night Out had accomplished. While the events undeniably brought attention to stores, some questioned just how much financial return retailers received for all the partying. Smaller and emerging designers and brands especially often felt they left out of the festivities in favor of deep-pocketed bigger brands.
Asked about the sales return for the event, Kolb said, “I don’t think the success of it was measured only by numbers or money, but was really about engagement.”
FNO organizers said the event grew well beyond what they ever imagined which was a double-edged sword since retailers and their vendors were also pushed into spending more and competing for attention.
Kolb, however, says that both he and Bloomberg agreed the event achieved its objective, reinvigorating retail during the height of the recession in 2009 and beyond.
“Everyone feels we had a great four years,” Kolb said. “It brought a lot of attention to retail, to fashion’s important place in retail. Everyone feels really proud of what we accomplished, and excited to take those lessons and continuing them throughout the year.”
Fashion’s Night Out will still be held in select international cities this fall and FNO organizers said they will continue to support the NYC AIDS Fund, which received about $1 million from the Fashion’s Night Out events.