How much does an NYFW show cost? A minimum of $100,000

No wonder some designers are steering clear of Fashion Week

Fashion News
Yigal_Azrouel_Fashion_Show
An Yigal Azrouel runway show, seen from above via wikimedia.org

New York Fashion Week is about to kick off this Thursday, and the rumour mill is already in full swing. What does Jeremy Scott have planned with Miley Cyrus for his namesake show? Will Spike Jonze restage Superbad with Jonah Hill for Opening Ceremony? And what will Gareth Pugh have in store for his "immersive live performance"? 

With all the excitement and gossip leading up to SS15, it's pretty easy to forget what goes on behind the scenes. Which is, apparently, a whole lot of money. Bob Bland, the CEO of fashion incubator Manufacture NY, staged a series of shows for the initiative's emerging designers in January. According to Bland, it's pretty much impossible to stage a runway show unless you're already rich or a celebrity.

"It's pretty fair to say that virtually every fashion designer who is starting their own company is probably not getting the support they need," Bland told Racked. "The production costs are extremely high. At the Lincoln Center shows, the lighting racks alone cost $40,000. Our lights cost at least $25,000, and I think that was a deal."

Once other expenses including models, hair and makeup, production and in-house photography were factored in, the total bill came up to $100,000. Assuming that most fashion shows are 15 minutes, that works out to $6,667 a minute. Which most fashion editors in the front row were watching through the record function on their iPhone anyway. 

But Manufacture NY may have gotten off easy compared to other brands. According to Fashionista, $200,000 is a "reasonable" expense for an entry-level fashion show. Even something as basic as invitations can cost upwards of $5,000. All other bells and whistles – like a A-list populated front row or over-the-top staging – cost extra. Marc Jacob's 2011 sci-fi runway spectacle cost something like $1 million – or, as the New York Times broke it down, $1,750 per second.

With mounting costs, is it any wonder that some brands are looking for alternative ways to creatively show off their collections? Band of Outsiders' Scott Sternberg cancelled his SS15 show to focus on the opening of his first New York flagship store, while Rag & Bone opted for a photography presentation for their menswear collection.

As Sternberg points out, the benefits of a more intimate and low-key approach are their own reward. "I’ll actually be able to take a lot of press appointments and do what we do with the pre-collections, which is talk people through the pieces," he told Style. "But ultimately, the collection’s really strong. It stands on its own, even on a rack."

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