LA Fashion Week’s Venue Options Expanding

Tuesday, August 3, 2010
By Jennifer Uner
What's that you say?

We hear there's a lot going on in October. Image courtesy Jason Nicholls.

Since last season’s debut of the new Concept Fashion Week in downtown LA, we’ve seen two more new Fashion Week production organizations emerge. They join BOXeight, LA Fashion Weekend, LA Fashion CollectiveSimply Stylist and Project Ethos in providing collective venues for designers to present collections to buyers, stylists, bloggers and journalists.

The first new consortium claimed official City endorsement and big backing. A little due diligence uncovered some early wishful thinking, though we still find this new group, with its big vision and good graphic design skills, holds real promise. After their own due diligence into the fashion industry, they repositioned themselves before raising their profile, dropping both “official” from their copy (until it is official) and “week” from their title. You can find them now called Fashion Los Angeles and their year-round multimedia production studio aims to facilitate the creation of media assets–particularly digital–that brands can use to promote their collections both collectively and independently. They’ll do a week long “Meet the Public” social shopping experiment October 11-17 during this coming Fashion Week season with the help of LA fashion blogger Kelsi Smith. Their first Fashion Week production is slated for February 2011, which will cause headaches for those who believe that the Fashion Week/Market Week March mash-up is superior timing and most efficient to service both buyers and press in Los Angeles.

We believe that for Los Angeles to be relevant on the global fashion calendar the dates for LA Fashion Week do need to move forward.  Why? After a month on the road, journalists, stylists, bloggers, buyers and photographers covering the shows in New York, London, Milan and Paris are loathe to hold orders, hold stories and stall wrap-up reports for a trek to LA to see a mixed handful of talents. The Los Angeles Times considered a simultaneous NY+LA Fashion Week a while back. While we agree with much of Adam Tschorn’s analysis, we think the bulk of the globetrotting fashion tribe will choose to attend NY over LA every time. But timing like that would be HUGE for a West Coast centralized digital asset creator. Get it? After all, LA is home to the largest fashion district in the United States, and apparel production is the #1 manufacturing employer in the county.

The second new consortium dubbed itself “official” with its own self-selected dates and states that IT will be THE solution–finally!–to your LA Fashion Week needs. We find these claims rather dubious. Henceforth we shall refer to this production as WCM’s LA Fashion Week. WCM stands for World Coast Management, a firm behind this effort. We will also include their October 20-25 show schedule here for your convenience. These organizers have produced LA Fashion Week runway shows in the past, notably for MTVtr3 reality teen designer Jazmin Whitley. (On the topic of reality TV stars, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention Mikey Koffman of the Real L Word who organizes LA Fashion Weekend, a production that takes place at Sunset Gower Studios concurrent with Market Week.)

While it would be nice to see all of the production organizers united in collaboration–indeed it is WHY we started organizing a single central calendar eight years ago–the entrepreneurial undercurrent of Los Angeles is not going to let that happen any time soon. Several of these venue organizers want to be the leader and believe that their way is the right way. They want the others to capitulate to them. (Surely, it would help sell sponsorships…DIY shoestring production often proves itself unsustainable in the end.) But as entrepreneurs with investments in their own missions, we don’t see these event organizers uniting to create one relevant venue. Competition remains.

We have seen, over time, that when a venue organizer identifies and hews to a definable and recognizable set of core values it stands a better chance of success. Project Ethos with its earnest indie spirit. BOXeight as art club. Simply Stylist’s singular focus. Gen Art’s massive parties for emerging talents. (We miss you Gen Art. Heartbreaking that the sponsors wouldn’t sustain you and the member sales couldn’t cover the bills.)

To spotlight our common threads and to pool some resources, in 2009 we discussed with several designers, show producers and venue organizers the idea of expanding centralized services with proper registration, PR promotion, concierge, transportation and infrastructure regardless of venue location. We tested one aspect–registration–for two seasons. This facilitation was not without its difficulties. First and foremost we discovered that it would be problematic to charge a fee for this service when we ourselves have so little control over on-site attendee experience, which figuratively, not just literally, continues to be all over the map. To address the issues and streamline services would take a significant investment. These are funds that we don’t possess, and funds that we haven’t seen surface for collective fashion industry works in Los Angeles. (The likes of Ed Hardy and Rock & Republic have spent fortunes on their own productions but they’ve seen no reason to spend such fortunes on the promotion of common interests. Not that we’re advocating Ed Hardy Fashion Week!)

While collaboration and cooperation is a nice ideal, we expect we will continue to find that the individual interest of each ultimately outweighs his or her interest in the collective. We once heard an organizer speak out of both sides of his mouth, gleefully using the word “crush” in the reference to other organizers and then to their faces using words like “cooperation” and “community.”  You get the point.

For LA Fashion Week to grow and prosper, and to attract a stellar slate of  participating fashion design talent from around the world to its stages and studios, we hold firm that these venue producers and individual designer show productions benefit most by standing for something unique and compelling. There are as many different parts of the market–contemporary, couture, denim, red carpet, organic, punk, surf & skate, international, etc–as there are venues. It’s the “off sites” that often attract the most attention anyway….the creative presentations in a private home, small art gallery, subway station or rooftop garden. At the end of the day it should be about the CLOTHES:  the proper setting, guest experience and supporting media assets to support the designer’s statement for the collection and thus elicit oohs, aaahs and orders.

Regardless of location for a collection presentation, we’ll keep it central here on the calendar at FashionWeekLA.com. In the coming months we’ll take a closer look at each new and returning venue organizer. In the meantime, you will find links to each under the header LA Fashion Week Venue Producers in the column to the right. Please contact them directly for exhibition applications and volunteer opportunities. And continue to enjoy the rogue, inventive spirit of Los Angeles for another season.

Calendar page updates start soon. In the meantime, follow us on Twitter @FashionWeekLA.

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13 Responses to “LA Fashion Week’s Venue Options Expanding”

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