So the purpose of a fashion show is to present your collection for the following season to the media and buyers, right?
Wrong, said Tommy Hilfiger and Gigi Hadid in New York this weekend.
WWD summed up the new mood: "For a big percentage of accessibly priced brands, seasonal fashion shows are no longer about introducing fashion ideas. They’re about luring consumers around the globe to social-media swoon, and now, to shop instantly — browse, click, own!"
Ergo, the iconic American designer and his model muse didn't simply stage a catwalk show - they unleashed a funfair extravaganza complete with ferris wheel, food trucks and (fake) tattoo parlours that lasted two days. The collection was immediately available to purchase. Oh, and Gigi co-designed it.
Hilfiger is known for his grand ideas and mega-budget sets. This time last year, he recreated his favourite beach in Mustique, where he has a holiday home, complete with a replica of his local bar and the actual barman. Shows past have been staged in Hollywood-worthy sets done up to look like rock concerts and tennis matches. But even for Hilfiger this latest venture was next level.
The starry f'row was there (Taylor Swift, Olivia Palermo) but to watch the show live they were joined 2000 members of the public (who'd won their tickets in a competition). On Saturday, the gates to "Tommy Pier" were open all day, so fans could watch reruns of the show, while shopping, eating candy floss and lobster rolls and riding the wheel.
All of this was backed up mightily by social media, from the Facebook announcement - "See it. Love it. Shop it LIVE - straight from the runway - on tom.my/now" - to the Insta vids and cross-platform hashtags #TOMMYXGIGI #TOMMYNOW
So what exactly can we buy NOW? The clothes are a mix of Americana, Hello Sailor! and polished rock chick.
Gigi opened the show in skinny leather pants worn with a charismatic naval officer's jacket in navy-and-white, and a bandana round her neck. There were logo tracksuits, cropped hoodies and slippery satins that looked like baseball jerseys. Leather jackets had sailor's tattoo motifs (Gigi as a mermaid! Wrapped around an anchor!) on the back. There were nautical stripes, cable knits, pops of red.
Was it worth whatever it cost to errect a funfair downtown? The proof will be in the sales figures. If it works, and fans empty their wallets on cue (as seems likely), then other brands are going to have to start looking for more ways to reinvent the fashion system. Few have pockets as deep as Hilfiger's, and it takes serious investment to smash the production cycle on a scale like this.