A 'Night' to Remember: The Impact of Fashion's Night Out

Fashion's Night Out brought out droves of celebrity and fashion fans like the rush before Christmas — even if the level of business didn’t quite match.

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“It’s clear to me that Fashion’s Night Out had a very positive impact,” said Macy’s chairman, ceo and president Terry Lundgren, who — along with Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, CFDA president Diane von Furstenberg (who got the biggest applause at the kickoff at the Macy’s in Queens) and NYC & Co. — was among the drivers of the event. “Our stores in the five boroughs that participated outpaced the nation in terms of comp-store sales,” Lundgren said, citing shoes, dresses, leggings and skinny pants as among the bestsellers on the night.

“If you ask my store executives, they would do this again next week because they were so pleased with the turnout,” he said. “The real objective was to [underscore] the importance of the fashion industry and the roll it plays in the U.S. economy, and to say it’s OK to shop responsibly and feel good about the purchases you make. In the next few weeks, we should know if it ignited this season. Hopefully the publicity will resonate throughout the country. Without consumption, if individuals are not buying something from someone, the U.S. economy will not work. There’s no possible way. Two-thirds of the economy depends on consumption.”

Brendan Hoffman, ceo of Lord & Taylor, noted long lines waiting for designers and events at the Fifth Avenue flagship. “It was pretty easy to see the impact and how New York trended over the rest of the chain. It definitely had a big blip,” he said.

Lord & Taylor advertised its evening’s activities via windows, taxi TV and e-mails. “We definitely have no regrets,” Hoffman said when asked if the expense of the evening was worth it. “I bet we [retailers collectively] can make a bigger deal out of it next year. Like any other retailer, we worry how to anniversary [the day’s sales] next year, so I would certainly support it again.”

At Barneys New York, jewelry designer Waris Ahluwahlia posed an important question: “It’s mayhem. I see a lot of shoppers — but are they shopping?” The store was packed with those eager to meet designers. Few seemed to be purchasing, though the shoe department was busy. Alexander Wang was greeted by a group of shrieking girls like he was a Jonas Brother, while Manolo Blahnik was besieged by women hungry for autographs. Books did appear to be selling, with customers snapping up Amanda Brooks’ and Isabel and Ruben Toledo’s tomes and getting them signed as many sales associates stood on the sidelines to watch. “I’m counting the shopping bags,” said Barneys creative director Simon Doonan. “My new rule is: no snaps for your Facebook page unless you’re carrying a Barneys shopping bag.”

Dennis Basso on Madison Avenue sold some big tickets, including a sable coat, a chinchilla coat, one gown, two day dresses and two mink coats.

Oscar de la Renta’s store was more show business than ready-to-wear business. De la Renta took to the makeshift stage and launched into a rendition of Julio Iglesias’ “To All the Girls I’ve Loved Before,” occasionally switching the lyrics to “all the girls who buy my clothes.” “In the Dominican Republic, we will sing. Julio, who’s like my brother, sometimes I make him sing.” De la Renta was joined by Barbara Walters in a medley of standards. Sarah Jessica Parker chimed in, then the warbling trio was joined by Bette Midler, who led the crowd in “I’ll Be Seeing You,” “As Time Goes By,” and “There’s No Business Like Show Business.”

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