Fashion’s Night Out Finally Calls It a Night: What Went Wrong

Over and out

Finally calling it a night

And so it ends. The shopping event whose ROI has been in question for sometime now, is finally drawing to a close in the US, four years after launching.

Fashion’s Night Out started in 2009 as a global event to draw recession weary shoppers into stores amid record-low sales. That year, we attended the Paris version, which focused on a small section of the city known as the Golden Triangle. Home to luxury megabrands like Dolce & Gabbana, Louis Vuitton and others who frequently graced the pages of Paris Vogue, then editor Carine Roitfeld declared it a success since it got the cash registers ringing. Indeed, the rather subdued night, which required invitations found in issues of Paris Vogue, Architectural Digest or GQ, brought out a well heeled crowd who from all observations kept sales associates busy making purchases.

The American version, however, with its focus on celebrity and full on event status (DJs! Food! Champagne!) was the largest and most star-studded, and quickly became a victim of its own success. Backed by Vogue, the CFDA and the City of New York, the events of the past two years became so crowded that it was impossible to actually shop. One event comes to mind, where people waiting in line to see celebrity designers were told to have their cameras ready, snap a picture and leave the store. Forget about browsing or actually buying any merchandise. The celeb-less store next door had deafening music amplified by the lack of bodies browsing any products.

This was something not lost on retailers. While everyone from major department stores to boutiques refused to go on the record about the business results of participating in Fashion’s Night Out – Was there a boost in foot traffic immediately after? Did shoppers return after the free champagne? – the few off-record comments we did get only cited the opportunity to work with Vogue as a highlight of the event.

The sponsors of the event — Vogue, the Council of Fashion Designers of America and NYC & Co. — made the joint decision to go on hiatus so retailers and designers can focus their budgets on projects that are more in line with their specific objectives, rather than a big event on one night in September. {WWD}

Notably, the event will continue internationally. As we’ve noted before, this may be a better model for the US to follow. For better or worse, Vogue is a certain type of fashion. Narrowing the target audience and type of event associated with Fashion’s Night Out may not draw the same massive crowds, and may not be all-inclusive, but in the markets that are continuing the festivities that’s not a bad thing.


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