Fashion Week grows bigger for media this year, again

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Day 1. (Mercedes Benz Fashion Week)
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A decade ago, Fashion Week was only just starting to emerge from its old identity: An industry event targeted at buyers and the fashion trade publications. Now it's something else entirely: The largest annual event in New York every year, with seemingly every publication devoting significant resources and space to their coverage of every dress, every party, every celebrity who shows up.

As the show's profile has become more public and more accessible seeming (something the media, and in no small part the team of Harvey Weinstein and Heidi Klum, can take credit for), brands have wanted to be associated with the event. That means advertising next to coverage, and that means more coverage.

This year is projected to be yet another increase over last in value to media companies, and they're certainly doing more with Fashion Week than they ever have before. There is, it would seem, no saturation point, though media companies are keeping an eye out for it.

"We're seeing a lot of traction on the sales front," said Todd Haskell, a New York Times advertising executive who oversees fashion and mobile. He noted that Fashion Week has historically "always been good for business, but probably in the last few years it's become even more important."

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But with the revenue already booked, the next question is, how many people will read the coverage and watch the streaming video and buy the apps and click through the slideshows? And the bigger question is, how much bigger can Fashion Week media grow?

As for this year's content bonanza, local news outlets have lots planned.

The Wall Street Journal, for instance, is touting its Fashion Week Stream, an app and webpage that pulls in every article, video, photo, live-blog and tweet being churned out by its team of reporters assigned to the event, while The New York Times' "runway player" will feature photos and slideshows from more than a hundred shows and parties.

Both papers are teeing up live video segments and social-media content, including posts on two of the networking platforms de riguer: Instagram and Pinterest. (The Journal is soliciting reader contributions for the latter.) The Times' glossy style supplement, T magazine, which recently parted ways with its high-profile editor, Sally Singer, will post continuous Fashion Week coverage both on its website and its Tumblr account. Additionally, the Times on Thursday debuted an updated version of the "Collection" app, which aggregates all of its fashion coverage, as well as an accompanying Collection email newsletter that will publish weekly.

Haskell declined to discuss advertising revenues, but a Times spokesperson provided a list of 13 luxury brands that have purchased campaigns either in print or online during Fashion Week, including Gucci, Bottega Veneta, Ralph Lauren, Neiman Macus and Bloomingdales.

Meanwhile, over at New York, this is the magazine's first big opportunity to show off its just-revamped fashion and women's-interest website, The Cut, which has a host of wonky special features planned, including plenty of CPM-friendly video content: A daily montage of accessories from the tents; model diary videos; and backstage hair-and-makeup videos from major shows like Jill Stuart, Derek Lam and Alexander Wang.

New York publisher Larry Burstein told Capital that fashion advertising this September was up 50 percent over last September, mostly having to do with the relaunch of The Cut, which has resulted in various new ad units via video, image galleries and an interactive top skin. Each of The Cut's five section fronts and its homepage sold out for Fashion Week, said Burstein: "There's a real demand for visibility."

But Fashion Week is a golden marketing opportunity, too. With hordes of models, designers and gawkers running around from tent to showroom to party spot, media brands can reach them all directly right out there on the street. As Burstein put it, this speaks to "the whole notion of what an event Fashion Week has become."

New York, for its part, is providing shuttle service back and forth between the week's two main venues—Milk Studios and Lincoln Center—as well as employing guerilla tactics like handing out Cut-branded temporary tatoos at the shows.

And its not just high-brow news brands getting a piece of the pie. For last night's big "Fashion Night Out" kick-off, The Huffington Post partnered with the fashion house Ports 1961 for an event at its Meatpacking District flagship showcasing the inaugural graduating class of Parsons Masters of Fine Arts in Fashion Design and Society. The Daily News threw a party at the American Eagle store on Broadway where guests could get their photo snapped against "an exclusive New York Daily News front page backdrop, perfect for that new Facebook and Twitter profile photo," according to an item in yesterday's paper.

The News only just got back into covering fashion. After falling off the beat during the past few years, it recently hired a fashion editor, stylist and assistant to produce a new style section in the Thursday and Sunday editions of the paper. But the bulk of its Fashion Week coverage will be online.

"We’ll be live blogging via scribble and doing galleries from 50 different shows we plan to be at," said features editor John Oswald. "And yes, there will be video components."

Rival tabloid the New York Post, with its less savvy website, might not have as much digital Fashion Week fare to offer readers. But it does have one thing the News does not: a glossy print supplement filled with lucrative advertising adjacencies.

The latest edition of that title, Page Six Magazine, was distributed with yesterday's paper in time to circulate among the tents. Billed as "The Fashion Issue," it includes features on Anna Wintour, Olivia Palermo and Nigel Barker.