Twice a year in New York City, the fashion world comes together to embrace, celebrate, and define trends for the next season—what is in and what is out. In just one week, New York Fashion Week drives over $900 million in revenue for NYC businesses. It’s the kick-start to fashion season.
Past all the fabulous glitz and glamour of the runway, behind the curtain, lies a multibillion-dollar industry that determines not only what you’ll be wearing, but what brands will define a generation. As SVP of Global Brand Partnerships at IMG, I have the opportunity every day to work with Fortune 500 companies striving to reach these cultural tastemakers and to create meaningful connections and partnerships during New York Fashion Week (NYFW): The Shows.
Brand partnerships offer brands a new audience and a bridge into a cultural sphere, while providing designers an opportunity to realize their creative visions and continue to do what they do best. The best collaborations seamlessly integrate partners into NYFW: The Shows in new and innovative ways—such as designer partnerships, custom content, innovation, and on-site activations. We often find that the brands that feel furthest from fashion drive the most positive impact as they are being introduced to our audience in genuine and unique ways.
This past February, IMG had the privilege of working with many exciting and unique brands. From our presenting partner Afterpay to UPS, our sponsors brought new energy, accessibility, and a true sense of consumer engagement to NYFW. IMG partnered Afterpay with designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte to launch “The Art of Rodarte,” an immersive consumer experience with our innovation partner Yahoo at Spring Studios, HQ of NYFW: The Shows. For the first time, consumers had access to NYFW in an entirely new way. The experience sold out within two days.
With our official logistics partner, UPS, IMG launched the IN THE BLK showcase, which debuted the #ChangeFashion inclusion rider and highlighted three emerging Black designers. During NYFW, UPS also launched its first apparel and merchandise collection with Nigerian American stylist and designer Ugo Mozie. Finding new ways to reach and connect with the larger consumer market is what NYFW is all about and the impact that our partners provide the NYFW audience is immeasurable.
What makes NYFW truly unique is its people. From the diversity of designers, guests, and social followers, we continue to grow our audiences to reflect the reality of the fashion consumer. Our designers and core audience skew younger, creating a new opportunity for our partners to engage with millennials and Gen-Z consumers. NYFW attendees are diverse in terms of ethnicity, income bracket, and lifestyle. It’s not just editors, buyers, and industry executives attending NYFW. Today, consumers can stream shows live at NYFW.com or follow along through social media. This diversity is impactful when speaking to prospective partners. Brands that are looking to reach new target markets and achieve awareness with a new audience can tap directly into an already engaged consumer in new and unexpected ways.
As we look ahead to September, we are excited for what the future holds for NYFW—how our current partners will continue to work in exciting and innovative ways and how new partners will take their first steps into the world of fashion through on-site consumer experiences and designer collaborations. I’m electrified for what’s next as we build for the future with smart, innovative, and out-of-the-box partners. We at IMG sit in a unique position at the crux of culture and commerce, and it’s a privilege to bring the two together to make NYFW the best it can be. Are you ready to join me?
Patrick Connors is SVP of Global Brand Partnerships for IMG, a company representing some of the world’s greatest fashion icons.