Sponsors continue expansion at Fashion Week events

NEW YORK: This year during New York Fashion Week, brands continued to follow designers as they push beyond the main tents of Bryant Park.

NEW YORK: This year during New York Fashion Week, brands continued to follow designers as they push beyond the main tents of Bryant Park. For example, at the six-year-old Style360 venue, Tide worked with designer Geren Ford, aligning its fabric care message in a show featuring mostly washable looks on mommy blogger models.

“We wanted to make sure this fashion show was more down-to-earth and real, and could resonate with the average woman,” said Sarah Pasquinucci, external relations manager for North America Fabric Care at Procter & Gamble. “Picking three mommy bloggers is fantastic, and other [venues] might not have given us the opportunity.”

Kipling, a new participant, featured its new leather handbags in the Walter fashion show, which was also held at Style360, in an aim to expand its consumer image beyond luggage.

“This kind of venue allows us to level the playing field and partner in Fashion Week with a real presence,” said Susan Puckett, director of marketing and business development at Kipling. “We'd never be able to get that big presence at [traditional] New York Fashion Week.”

Wrigley's Orbit Mist, another new sponsor, tasked designer Rebecca Minkoff to show a waterproof-inspired look in-line with its hydrating message and recent product launch.

“Brands understand there's an influential audience there, and they're looking at how to tap into it from a PR, digital, live experiential, and, ultimately, a print point-of-view,” said Al Silvestri, VP and director of integrated marketing at Hachette Filipacchi Media (HFM), the organization behind Style360. “That's becoming more and more top-of-mind with many brands.”

Silvestri explained that this kind of collaboration is key for growth. However, with sponsors' increased role in show planning and execution, organizers and participants must be careful to maintain a level of integrity and authenticity.

“If you let it become too commercial, that's a short-term vision," he said. "We want editors to feel like this is still a credible environment.”

This year, the event extended from three days to four, and it facilitated increased collaboration between designers and sponsors, versus the traditional runway show featuring designer looks and sponsor swag.

The Milk Group, another alternative show venue, media, and production company partnered with Mac Cosmetics to offer free show space and production packages to more than 30 designers, initially triggering buzz about the potential for a serious competitor to the main event. In its first year, the Mac and Milk Fashion Week event provided designers and sponsors with customized opportunities, including video, interactive stage presentations, and traditional show space.

“We wanted to create a new movement,” said Mazdack Rassi, creative director and cofounder of Milk Studios. “It frees up the designers not to have to worry about the upfront charges of the space and have them focus on the creativity part...There is a place for the tents, but I think there's excitement."

*Correction: This story originally associated the attached image with the dress that Rebecca Minkoff designed for her show at Style360. The dress pictured had a presence at the event, but it had originally been designed by a stylist for an Orbit Mist commercial.

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