by Nissa Hanna
How do you coax consumers back into clothing stores? Fashion’s Night Out dangled irresistible carrots: celebrities, customization and cocktails. The global event, held September 9, was a rallying cry for retailers whipped up by Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America.
It was not retail as usual. In New York, celebs and designers were stationed at stores around the city: Loomstate created custom T-shirts at Barneys, Estelle performed at Rachel Roy, Kate Spade hosted a tango in the street outside her store, and Vera Wang styled makeovers at her shop.
So far, reports suggest that the evening was better at creating buzz than sales. Although Manhattan streets and stores were filled with merry fashionistas (and fashionistos), apparently most turned out with greater intent to ogle the Olsen Twins and score complimentary champagne than to be, well, consumers. Anna Wintour even had to talk one reluctant partygoer into buying the event’s $30 charitable T-shirt (NYMag.com 9.11.09).
Perhaps ringing registers wasn’t the event’s intent; after all, if you want to increase sales at Dior or Barneys, you don’t throw a block party. Instead, maybe Fashion’s Night Out’s raison d’etre was to give shoppers what they’re missing right now (no, not $900 Jimmy Choo heels) — a good time.
Consumers are going to let the economic waters warm up a bit before they jump back into spending. Stores need to find creative ways to stay connected until shoppers are feeling confident and safe enough to take the plunge.