It’s just a dress. No big deal.
Well, actually it is.
You don’t have to be a Prada-loving fashionista to see the sequins on the wall. With the economy still shaky, the fashion industry is depending on the drama of fashion shows to get cash-strapped shoppers back into stores and excited about spending again.
The financial gains associated with the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week are significant. The seven-day frenzy kicks off tomorrow and runs through Sept. 16 and is expected to generate more than $770 million in economic activity for New York City. The number of shows, which are moving to Lincoln Center from Bryant Park, has grown to about 100 and showcase leading American and international designers debuting their Spring 2011 looks.
Overall, New York City’s fashion industry provides 175,000 jobs, $1.6 billion in annual tax revenue and $10 billion in total wages. More than 800 fashion companies are headquartered in New York - double the number of its closest competitor, Paris.
More than 232,000 people flock to the Big Apple for the event, and industry-related activities account for more than $466 million in direct visitor spending. For the businesses surrounding Lincoln Center – the restaurants, hotels and retailers – as well as the thousands of caterers, security and service workers staffing the shows, the profits are plenty. According to New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s office, more than $40 million will be spent on meals at local restaurants, $30 million on ground transportation and $56 million at area hotels.
This season the industry is touting its new love affair with technology.
About 80% of the designers are using a computerized check-in system called Fashion GPS. Instead of shelling out thousands on lavishly-designed paper invites, many fashion houses are opting for email versions containing bar-coded confirmations. The plan is to cut down on the massive spending and time that goes along with traditional paper invites, not to mention the number of trees that will be spared.
The new technology is also being pushed as a way to admit guests faster and in an orderly fashion. The software allows seating charts to be created more elaborately, and last-minute moves can be made easier.
“Normally the phones are ringing constantly off the hook with the RSVPs and since that is all happening electronically, it is a new sensation of quietness,” said Lou Iacovelli, president of Atelier Creative Services.
IMG, the production company putting on Fashion Week, has been working with technology consulting firm Control Group and Fashion GPS, a digital marketing and event firm, for about a year. Also getting a makeover is Fashion Week’s website. The upgraded version will include live streaming and beauty blogs.