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.