In it’s second year, the Anna Wintour-created Fashion’s Night Out seemed to find its footing as both a social and media event. Capital-F Fashion people were sharing their experiences and photos all over Twitter, from Olsen Twin-anchored cattle calls at Barneys to velvet rope, guest-list-only fetes at Ferragamo and Madewell. The crowds were huge this year, bigger than last year by a wide margin, and nary a luxury brand or retailer with a New York outpost sat out the festivities.

By all of those metrics, Fashion’s Night Out was a roaring success. But as an event that drives sales and gets people shopping, many critics still have their questions about its efficacy. During a rather awkward Late Night with Jimmy Fallon appearance alongside uberdesigner Marc Jacobs, Wintour bristled at Fallon’s question of whether or not the event included discounts – it does not, or at least it’s not supposed to. So we’re curious – if you attended a FNO event in New York City or elsewhere, did you buy anything, or did you go to enjoy the crowd and the event (and maybe also the free cocktails)?

Several recaps of last year’s inaugural outing provided anecdotal evidence that consumers didn’t see Fashion’s Night Out as a buying opportunity, and that makes sense – crowds are too big in stores that are too small, and no one is focused on shopping when there’s free booze to be guzzled and celebrities at which to gawk. I can go to Bergdorf’s and buy the same bag for the same price any day of the week, and since I don’t particularly enjoy crowded shopping (you’ll never see me at a mall in December unless it’s a Tuesday morning or some such), there’s practically no buying incentive at Fashion’s Night Out.

Alcohol’s uncanny ability to lower purchasing inhibitions notwithstanding, the intent of FNO is supposedly to remind people that shopping is fun. I question whether or not anyone who would show up to one of the evening’s many events needs any reminding of that fact, but you have to give Wintour and the other organizers credit for savvy marketing. It’s rare that mainstream media covers fashion so intently, and the event certainly managed to get people within the industry talking as well. Whether or not that will turn into increased revenues remains to be seen, but we’d love to hear any and all observations and hypotheses in the comments.

Photo of Fashion’s Night Out milieu via AliceInNYC

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  • Dezynrbaglaydee

    I was out in LA for FNO. A lot of the stores in the Beverly Center did actually have 10-20% discounts for the entire store and also a gift with purchase, so there was some incentive. Once I headed over to the boutiques on Melrose there were no discounts.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      That’s interesting to hear – perhaps the LA events weren’t subject to such stringent rules like the ones in NYC under the purview of Anna Wintour.

  • Shannon

    I tried getting shoes at Tory Burch cause I wanted the tote you got with purchase, and you couldn’t even move in the store. But yet people were still walking out with shopping bags, I don’t know how anyone could look at anything in the store.

    I did go to Gwen Stefani’s m&g at Sephora, you had to get 2 of the new Harajuku Lovers perfumes to be able to meet her, I got 3, I need the other 2 for the whole set. But they only had 100 wristbands, and the store was allowing fans to crowd the front entrance and made it nearly impossible to get in! I was very disappointed in how they ran the event.

  • 19yearslater

    Shopping would be more fun with discounts.

    • http://www.purseblog.com/ Amanda Mull

      My thoughts exactly.

    • Jelita78

      ameen! (ipad)

  • deneen

    My store wanted us to meet certain sales goals for fashion night out. We didn’t offer any discounts or gift with purchase. People were out to be seen, celebrity watch and guzzle down free food and champagne.

  • gpc

    I’ll stick to on-line shopping with coupon codes – better selection and no crowds…

  • Amanda R

    I live in Gainesville, FL, and a bunch of the boutiques around town sponsored a FNO event. The stores stayed open extra late and had fun events and things. I didn’t go, but I thought it was cool that even my silly little college town is getting into the spirit of FNO.

  • Metsyc

    In Dallas, I went to Northpark Center (upscale mall) for FNO events. Would have been open to buying but salespeople looked shocked and scared at most places… no attempt to help or even greet. The only friendly staff in stores was security and people serving drinks. Went specifically into one store to buy and they didn’t have the item I wanted – staff was friendly at that store though (BCBGMaxAzria).

    Discounts or incentives would have greatly helped purchases… and training staff on how to handle crowds. :)

  • Megs Mahoney Dusil

    Personally, I think FNO is a great idea in theory – but probably not an event that will actually produce revenue. People attend FNO for the events surrounding the night, like parties and drinks and celebrities. But who really goes to shop in that atmosphere?! Probably people are just going to mingle and see people.

    I do think some stores set it up a bit better to hope people will shop – like limited edition bags, or customize bags, etc.

  • tadpolenyc

    I wanted to buy something, but I couldn’t even get into the SoHo Chanel store because the line was so long. Phillip Lim, Rag & Bone, and Marc Jacobs put away half their inventory. I guess shopping wasn’t the retailers’ aim for FNO.

  • Diana

    I was at Bergdorf Goodman and it was really too crowded to get any decent shopping done. Maybe if they did offer discounts it would be worth it, but like everyone else is saying, I could head to BG on any other day and the get the same bag, shoes, etc. for the same price. Free drinks and meeting designers in person was nice though.

  • uggtop

    People attend FNO for the events surrounding the night, like parties and drinks and celebrities.

  • Staci

    I think FNO is a great incentive to shop and enjoy the city regardless of where it takes place!

  • Alana

    Totally pointless if you ask me

  • Mochababe73

    I wanted to go, but being a football mom was more important. Football practice waits for no man. Besides, I’d rather be there than in the crowds. I don’t think any retailer at our FNO even had discounts. I just wanted to go to be seen and mingle.

  • LV-nowwhat

    Yes I bought a LV KItan bag and Nars new pure matte lipstick,Nars lipliners,Nars lipgloss and Chanel lipgloss. I want to Somerset collections Saks store they served drinks, had a dj and some food. But it was not crowded.

  • roxy

    Yes, I was at the Beverly Center hub in Los Angeles and got a makeover at Sephora and bought an Urban Decay primer. I would have bought the entire eye kit the artist used but they were sold out! At Macy’s, they had a denim fashion show with lots of Frankie B and Seven jeans, and Marc Jacobs sweaters and tops. It was super cute and I wanted to try several pants on but after the show everyone rushed the “open bar” and you couldn’t even get to the clothes! Total gridlock. Bad planning there, Macy’s. So overall, there were cute things to buy but the crowds made it semi-impossible!

  • spaceyjacy

    Jeeze, I guess I’m in the minority here. I bought a pair of pumps at Marni this year. Last year I bought one of the special edition Phillip Lim dresses. I guess I like my souvenirs.

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