In 2024, who are fashion shows for? 

Ahead of New York Fashion Week Fall 2024, designers clearly revisited their show strategies to better balance two imperative goals: appealing (and selling) to consumers and meeting business objectives involving retailers, their own production schedules and press. 

For Tommy Hilfiger, who showed at Grand Central Oyster Bar on Friday evening, that meant moving on from the see-now, buy-now selling model — on the runway, anyway. While the models who weaved between tables donned fall 2024 looks, many of those occupying seats wore styles currently available in stores. Among them: Jenna Lyons, TikToker Noah Beck and newly appointed brand ambassador Sofia Richie Grainge. The latter wore a head-to-toe Tommy look including a pink trench coat and a sweater draped over her shoulders.

It’s a significant move, considering that Hilfiger helped pioneer see-now, buy-now and has remained loyal to the model since 2017. And it says something about the influence, or lack thereof, of curated runway looks on consumer behavior. As has been widely noted, social media stars and their personal styles are now driving fashion trends. 

Tommy Hilfiger has hosted only one other fashion show since the start of the pandemic, in September 2022. While the show this week exclusively featured traditional models, with celebs and ambassadors confined to seats, the lineup for the brand’s 2022 show was heavy in mega-influencers. They included Julia Fox, Amelia Gray, Lila Moss and Hari Nef. The looks, styled by the brand, offered little opportunity for personal style to shine through. It’s worth noting that the company’s revenue that quarter decreased 4% year-over-year. 

“See-now, buy-now will always be part of what we do, but the see-now, buy-now idea [we’re leveraging] now is very different than it was in the past,” Hilfiger said last week. “In the past, you could see-now, buy-now something from the runway while it was on the runway. But we think it’s really important for influencers and celebrities to be wearing the clothes that are available for see-now, buy-now; you could see them wearing whatever they’re wearing and go to tommy.com to buy them.”

In addition, he said, “We’ve elevated our entire collection. It takes a bit more time to source everything, so we would like to show and then deliver a few months later.”

During her brand’s presentation hosted in Chelsea on Saturday, Alice + Olivia founder and creative director Stacey Bendet also spoke about intentionally separating the brand’s formal show for the season from its consumer-targeting efforts. This season, denim — which had a large presence in the brand’s fall 2023 presentation — was largely confined to the brand’s influential, invited show attendees. Katie Holmes, for example, wore the brand’s pleated Eric jeans, which are currently shoppable. 

“For the show, I wanted everything to feel more sparkly and a little fancy, and to show more of the novelty [styles],” Bendet said. “But we’re doing a lot of denim; our denim business is really big now. And in our [buyers’] showroom are a lot of our basic denim styles and wide-leg bell bottoms.”

While he didn’t host a fashion show, KidSuper’s Colm Dillane also carved out consumer and industry moments this fashion week, with events celebrating his brand’s new 10,000-square-foot Brooklyn headquarters. On Saturday, throughout the day, the brand’s community members who reserved tickets could attend a workshop on how to screenprint or a panel discussion on how to “turn buzz into business,” among other sessions. But at 8 p.m., the space became an invite-only black-tie gala for attendees including members of the press. Jägermeister sponsored the bar, while salsa dancers provided entertainment.  

“For these things, we can’t have everyone come, which is less fun,” Dillane said last week, regarding the gala. As for the community portion of the day, he had planned to “put out an Instagram” to announce the day’s events. He did so the day before, and each session reached capacity. 

Others who sought to appease both target segments included Phillip Lim. On Friday, before opening the presentation to the public for the weekend, he gave the usual show-goers a first look at his brand’s fall 2024 collection. 

As the trend gains traction, it’s having a transformative effect on fashion week. But, for some young designers, it’s nothing new. 

Backstage after his show on Sunday evening, Christian Cowan said his shoppers are a key component of all of his runway shows. This one, in particular, played out in front of a mix of editors, celebs — including “The Real Housewives of New York” cast members and Bella Thorne — and fans of the brand.

“My shopper informs what I create,” Cowan said. “I look at what the ladies who are buying our clothes are buying again and again. I want to expand this [world] for them and give them more options of what they love.”

Cowan’s signature star motif that was repeated on the runway was mirrored in the looks of attendees seated throughout the room. 

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