Gen Art, an organization dedicated to showcasing emerging fashion designers and other artists, celebrated its 10th annual Styles fashion show May 19, with the help of its new AOR, 5W PR. The shows' popularity remains a constant since its inception in 1999, but its following and media partners have gradually shifted.
In the past, the organization was niche, speaking specifically to “fashionistas.” This year, the show worked with media partners that have greater reach and attracted a wider array of sponsors, including Time Warner Cable, New York Magazine, and the Tone skincare brand.
“We know there's a wider audience of people interested in coming to fashion shows…so we probably cast our net wider,” said Gen Art co-founder Ian Gerard.
Gerard explains that fashion has been a hot topic the last five years and a lot of brands want to align with fashion and see their products as stylish. He attributes the shift to a national spread in fashion that speaks to a more mass consumer audience - as evident in the expansion of Gen Art and an appetite for shows like Project Runway.
“When we started in fashion, no one touched emerging designers,” said Gerard. “In terms of our show this year, we were looking back upon the success of the last ten years of the Style program and realizing how much of the landscape has changed since our first show in ‘99.”
Although sponsors focused on product or brand-specific messages during previous events, Botox, this year's main sponsor, went with more cause-related communication, underscoring the use of its product to control excessive sweating, a sensitive issue, rather than anti-aging.
“It's a different type of partnership for us,” said Gerard. “I think it was a good thing that gets people talking about something that's not perhaps something they're open about.”
Robert Verdi, host, poked fun at the Botox partnership, and some online outlets, including WWD, touched upon the possibility that the partnership could associate Gen Art with “old.” To this, Gerard says, “The product we're talking about is not defined by age. I think we take [Botox] into art which is young, fun, and festive.”
For skincare brand Tone, also sponsoring the show, Gen Art built a niche design category tasking contenders to sketch story boards, rather than finished pieces, based on the Tone's “radiance” message.