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With LAUNCH NYC, a New Fashion Week Option Takes Shape

Launch NYC ImageAs New York Fashion Week (NYFW) revamps and streamlines, a locally based fashion organization is planning another option. From January 23-February 16, Manufacture New York (MNY), a fashion incubator and small run production facility, in partnership with retailer Adorama, will host MNY55, an integrated showroom, retail and event space concept in the Flatiron area. And during an 8-day event from February 5-12 called LAUNCH NYC, the venue will also incorporate live runway shows. Both initiatives will spotlight independent national and local fashion designers.

A different take on New York Fashion Week: “It’s a downtown space for up-and-coming designers, an effort to reinvent Fashion Week with a “more sane approach, that’s more dynamic, accessible, transparent and interesting,” said Bob Bland, MNY’s CEO and founder, during a press preview on Monday. As she noted, NYFW has experienced several issues during the past five years.

A brief recap of the buzz about official NYFW: As chronicled by PRNewser, the event has grown too big for individual brands, and generated too many would-be press attendees, event crashers and scenesters. Production in the tented venue has become costly, scheduling conflicts have occurred and there’s a delay between runway shows and clothes being available for purchase. Sponsor IMG has sought more control in 2014 with tighter press credentialing.

For the fashion-loving public, New York has it all. As Bland said, “New York has a diverse range of talent that deserves the same attention as London and Paris. We have everything we need in NYC for the next generation of fashion talent”. Apparently New York’s First Lady Chirlane McCray agrees, since she wore local designer Nanette Lepore at her husband Bill de Blasio’s recent mayoral inauguration.

Selection criteria for MNY designers: they must manufacture domestically, with preference for those making samples locally. As Staley Cook, MNY’s art director, said, “We want the jobs to trickle back to New York”. MNY is also building a flagship manufacturing center in Brooklyn, where they’ll focus on locally produced designs, including wearable technology.

Many plans for the space, which is now a blank slate. The venue was chosen for its potential to be “sustainable, visually appealing and make economic sense”, Bland said. She and her team pointed out all the functions the space will be set up to provide. “We won’t do away with runways, which offer the live spectacle of seeing clothes on models, the same way the designers envisioned”, She said. Directly following the runway shows, buyers will be able to book appointments at the in-house showrooms. The public who attend the runway shows will be able to purchase items directly on-site.

In the front window, a “Live Making” showcase with sewing machines will demonstrate MNY in action making garments. Similar to official NYFW, a large screen TV will highlight the runway action inside. Trunk shows and events such as after parties will be held throughout the week. Upstairs will serve as the backstage area for runway rehearsals, look book photo shoots and working press lounges.

Keeping it in perspective: “They’re making it a 360 degree experience”, noted Alyson Roy of AMP3PR, MNY’s PR firm. The audience will include buyers, press, VIPs and a ticketed public audience. As Bland added, “the premise here is a complete system, but it’s also a first-time experiment so we’ll be seeking feedback on the concept and execution.” If NYFW is any indication, receiving input won’t be a problem.

(Image courtesy of Manufacture New York)

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