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NEW YORK (Reuters) - New York Fashion Week opens on Thursday in a new home with a new approach, one intended to make the runway exhibition of top U.S. designers' spring 2016 collections more accessible to the general public.
The catwalks will open for the first time in a converted railway terminus and a former post office, sites that Organizers IMG and the Council of Fashion Designers of America say will have more of a New York feel than the tents in Lincoln Center and Bryant Park that the event called home for more than two decades.
The shows will be anchored at two downtown venues with designers hosting satellite viewings of their lines throughout the city through Sept. 17, when veteran U.S. designers Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, and Marc Jacobs are due to close out the week.
"It's really important for fashion to get back in touch with their true customer," said Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst of The NPD Group market researchers.
The shows, once open only to wealthy socialites and retail executives but now filled with celebrities, have for several years live-streamed their events online in a bid to connect with consumers. On Friday evening, more than 1,000 guests at Givenchy's show will enter on free tickets, many of them snagged through the Paris-based fashion house's online public giveaway.
"If Givenchy does this, and it's perceived as a good thing, not a bad thing, then watch out: Everyone is going to follow suit," Cohen said.
For fashion fans who fail to get some of coveted seats, Macys Inc will stage its own show that night with tickets starting at $55.
The main venues will be a former terminus to the High Line railroad in the trendy SoHo district and inside the 1914 James A. Farley Post Office.
"The spaces themselves are definitely edgier, definitely cooler," said a spokesman for IMG, which organizes the official venues. "You'll definitely feel more that you're in New York."
A new marketing campaign for the city's "Made in NY" initiative, intended to promote local designers, will debut during Fashion Week, according to a spokeswoman for Mayor Bill de Blasio. The campaign is part of a $15 million suite of initiatives kicked off in February and intended to support a fashion industry that employs more than 183,000 New Yorkers.
Editing by Scott Malone and Mohammad Zargham