Fashion fans flock to New York for unveiling of newest looks

Wed Feb 5, 2014 5:29pm EST
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By Ellen Wulfhorst

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Fashion followers and fans descend upon New York this week for shows by designers - from edgy newcomers to influential veterans - who say, despite its faults, Fashion Week is key to sartorial success.

The semi-annual fashion spree has faced a growing chorus of criticism over its role and relevance in the industry, yet thousands of designers, stylists, editors and photographers make the trek to runways in New York to unveil, assess and promote the newest looks.

"Fashion Week has become this massive, massive thing, and it's outgrown its traditional boundaries," said Eric Wilson, fashion news director at InStyle magazine. "It's a question of how it's going to manage its growth at this point."

Fashion Week years ago assembled a small set of intimate shows reserved for top store buyers and fashion editors. It has evolved into an unwieldy splay of hundreds of shows, some by designers appropriating the job title with little more than chutzpah and a trust fund, critics say.

"One thing I hear again and again is just how overwhelming Fashion Week has become," said Abby Schreiber, an associate editor who covers fashion at Paper magazine.

"The number of people interested in Fashion Week has ballooned," she said. "It's not as exclusive anymore."

Some buyers now wait to see collections privately, leaving seats at the shows to be filled by fashion school interns, reality television show stars and barely known celebrities.

Customers meanwhile shop online, taking up-to-the-minute tips from fashion bloggers and not waiting for sage advice from glossy style magazines or glittering store displays still months away.   Continued...

A model presents a creation from the GS Shop Lingerie Show featuring Wonderbra, Anna Sui and Spanx Fall 2014 collections during New York Fashion Week February 4, 2014. REUTERS/Eric Thayer