New York Fashion Week is going to look very different after this month’s shows.
Fashion week is leaving Lincoln Center — that much has been clear since December, when WME-IMG, the company that owns and produces fashion week, announced it would not be returning to its home of the past four years. Now, it’s all but officially confirmed that the company will acquire MADE Fashion Week, a younger, fresher event (and its more-or-less main competitor).
What’s driving all of these changes? As Keith Baptista — who, along with Jenné Lombardo and Mazdack Rassi, founded and (currently) owns MADE Fashion Week, — explains, the fashion industry has become so commercialized in New York City as to feel inauthentic. Fashion editors, famously, are bored by fashion week shows. Consumers are hungry for personalized and bespoke products, handcrafted goods that can’t be replicated thousands of times on the shelves of Forever 21 or Zara. Models in advertisements are airbrushed to unnatural “perfection” no human could possibly attain.
To be sure, it’s a strange state for an industry that prides itself on promoting original expression, breaking the rules and smashing
“In the last 20 years our business seems to have become homogenized,” says Baptista. “What we saw was a real lack of unique vision, and I think it’s really important to encourage alternative thought and the unique perspective that our designers bring. Not everything we do is commercial, not everything we do has a sound business mdoel behind it.”
“Our energy is incredible, and I think that’s something very difficult to explain in a business,” says Rassi. “It is just on. And how do you package that? That’s just there. That’s our magic.”
But for Milk Studios, which hosts MADE, authenticity and creativity have always taken precedent over branded events and manufactured moments (not that brands are unwelcome at MADE Fashion Week — they’re just given a lot more creative license).
Under the new acquisition, Baptista insists nothing about MADE — which gained notoriety through providing talented fledgling designers like Proenza Schouler, Public House, Joseph Altuzarra and Alexander Wang with a free show space and makeup — will change.