Fashion Weeks, by the Numbers

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

c.2014 New York Times News Service

From the perspective of the buyers, models and magazine editors whose business is high style, fashion week is actually more than a month. The women’s ready-to-wear shows occur twice yearly — first in February/March, then in September/October. They begin in New York before migrating to London, Milan and then finally Paris. Each event has developed its own reputation, however true: New York is populist, London edgy, Milan commercial, Paris artistic.

In sheer numbers, New York Fashion Week seems to be the largest event, with almost 300 runway shows or presentations attended by more than 100,000 people, including buyers, members of the news media and invited guests. (Part of the reason it is so large is that it includes men’s fashion shows, which are held at other times of the year in the European fashion capitals.) The New York City Economic Development Corp. reported in 2012 that fashion week contributed $850 million a year to the local economy, about twice the economic impact of the 2014 Super Bowl, held near New York City in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

New York is also the biggest hit online. Google searches for the term “fashion week,” which has entered the vernacular even in non-English-speaking style capitals like Milan and Paris, skyrocket in the first two weeks of September and then trail off by October just as the European fashion shows are heating up.

But while New York may make the most noise online and off, it can’t compare to Milan and Paris in terms of the concentration of high-fashion houses. Nearly 40 percent of the top women’s luxury-apparel brands shown this season were part of Milan Fashion Week, including Armani, Gucci and Prada. Paris, the grande finale event, was right behind, with 31 percent of the top luxury brands.

According to the Fédération Française de la Couture, which organizes the Paris shows, there are just over 5,000 accredited attendees each season (2,000 of whom are journalists), although individual brands might choose to invite additional guests. In an interview with Women’s Wear Daily, the mayor of Paris, Anne Hidalgo, said she hoped to broaden the audience for Paris Fashion Week, turning it into “a public event involving all public places.”

She said she would like to invite emerging designers to show their collections in public buildings like the Hôtel de Ville, Paris’ city hall, which are typically rented out to large fashion houses for invitation-only events. “I am inspired by New York and the importance the city accords to the fashion world,” she said. “I am also inspired by the way London nurtures young designers.”