At NY Fashion Week, couture meets mass market

Mon Feb 15, 2010 9:50am EST
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By Rebekah Kebede

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Outside the runways where designers are unveiling fashions in New York, Mercedes-Benz is showcasing its pricey SLS AMG Gullwing supercar next to Maybelline's display of inexpensive lip gloss in an effort by both high-end and mass-market companies to raise their profiles and boost their consumer following.

New York Fashion Week, a twice-yearly event that draws thousands of fashion insiders and fans, has a reputation for glamour, exclusivity and luxury yet is increasingly attracting sponsors such as Maybelline that sell modestly priced goods.

Even Tupperware, maker of kitchen containers, joined this season to sponsor one of the designers, who have struggled to find backers and buyers in the U.S. recession.

A runway show at Fashion Week can cost $100,000 for a designer, who meanwhile has been facing bleak retail sales. Corporate sponsors can help pay for the shows while using the opportunity to advertise their products.

"This process, through the great recession, has shown us that the affluent are very able to look at affordable products and look at them with a different eye now," said Candace Corlett, president of WSL Strategic Retail, a marketing consulting company.


"It's all converging to say, 'sure, Maybelline can sponsor Fashion Week. Why not?'" she said.

Waiting to take their seats at the runway shows, Fashion Week attendees crowd around Maybelline's display to sample its new lip gloss, which retails for $5.99, and pose in front of the futuristic Mercedes-Benz, with its base price of roughly $200,000.   Continued...

<p>Photographers wait to enter a show during New York Fashion Week in New York February 12, 2010. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri</p>