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Fashion’s Night Out: A Soho Summary

Last Thursday’s Fashion’s Night Out was a citywide event wherein select stores agreed to keep their doors open till 12 a.m. while providing free drinks and entertainment to shoppers — all as a part of a larger plan by the CFDA and the fashion industry to increase consumers interest in spending. One of the most anticipated stops for shoppers was Opening Ceremony, which promised a block party featuring food, music, and the transformation of their Howard Street storefront into a “friendly neighborhood sidewalk shop.”

Translation: goods by Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Alexander Wang, Band of Outsiders were sold out of the back of custom cars and convertibles, with guest appearances by the designers themselves (along with Erin Wasson, Wayne Lee, Patrik Ervell, and Lily Atherton). Adding the literal icing to the cake were snacks provided by Momofuku Milk Bar (in association with Band of Outsiders), Van Leeuwen Ice Cream, and Heartschallenger.

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Ice cream at Opening Ceremony

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Band of Outsiders truck

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Rodarte for Opening Ceremony

While I was expecting a crowd, nothing could prepare me for the scene I was greeted with: lines on both sides of the store and around the corner — most of the population of Williamsburg. Crowds aside, it was easy to sneak a peek into Opening Ceremony, which was decorated to look like the inside of an exclusive nightclub — red velvet rope and bouncer included. Outside I found silk screened handbags by Rodarte made especially for the event, placed elegantly inside of a vintage convertible, along with California road trip-looking vans filled with select merchandise by a few other Opening Ceremony designer alums. As promised, the ice cream was in abundance, but by 8 p.m. the designers still hadn’t arrived, and it had begun to drizzle. Many departed to other neighboring stores.

Down the street at Hugo Boss they brought in DJs as well as a “design your own jean station” manned by attractive models. On Greene Street crowds waited at the Bathing Ape store where Kid Cudi was hosting a listening party and select items from the vault were being released. At Space NK, free makeovers and hair consultations were administered liberally, with many consumers being swayed by the free gift bags given upon purchase.

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Space NK

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Hugo Boss

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While free wine and champagne came in abundance, the real draw of the night came with the promise of steep discounts and limited supply items. At the Jill Stuart store in Soho, the designer went through her extensive catalog to create a make-shift vintage store in the basement, where die hard fans could shop through the decades of her designs for one night.

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Jill Stuart

Though there were many gimmicks and giveaways of the night, the award for heart goes to Anya Hindmarch, who not only showed up for her store’s event, but greeted visitors with a smile. When asked what she thought of the night by Flavorpill, Hindmarch replied “I’m having a great night, everyone has been so lovely.” She was presiding over a contest in which visitors could pose with one of the bags; the best picture would win her creation (which can retail at upwards of $1,000).

The event certainly brought people to the stores, it didn’t necessarily make them buy. At the Michael Kors Soho shop, the line for free cocktails was out the door, while the line to purchase was at a paltry one or two customers. The salespeople themselves, though courteous, were definitely weary from the large volume of customers flooding the store for the rumored “free giveaways.” Another problem with the evening was the lack of cohesive organization — despite weeks of press releases, map handouts, and a style.com iPhone application.

The intended effect of the night was to introduce stores to a new audience which means the benefits might not be felt for some time. One thing that is clear from the number of hangovers at Flavorpill HQ the next morning: This event will definitely be welcomed back with open arms should they decide to do it next season. Even if it did only make imaginary money.

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Kirna Zabete