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Calling All Shoppers: 12 Cities Plan Major Retail Initiative

Fashion's Night Out seeks to jumpstart retail sales this fall.

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NEW YORK — Retailers usually compete to steal market share from each other, but come Sept. 10, in an unprecedented collaborative effort to spur shopping, stores in 12 major cities worldwide will band together to stage “Fashion’s Night Out.”

Occurring at the beginning of New York Fashion Week, the event here will involve a cornucopia of special in-store events, from parties to personal appearances by designers and celebrities, live music, fashion shows, freebies, charity tie-ins, extended shopping hours till 11 p.m. and other incentives to get consumers back in the stores. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, American Vogue and NYC & Co. are sponsoring the event. Fashionsnighout.com will outline the program.

The objective, said several of the 100 or so U.S. retailers that have agreed to participate so far, is to offer a fun evening of shopping in order to boost business and creatively transform stores into more entertaining theaters of commerce, rather than the usual, now overused tactic of discounting.

Stores will be challenged to devise new kinds of activities and festive environments, within their limited special event budgets, though the success of the night also depends on the state of the economy and the mood of consumers, and of course, the weather.

The initiative was unveiled Wednesday by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who walked into City Hall’s Blue Room escorted by Vera Wang and followed by a phalanx of fashion types that was more impressive than any front row at fashion week. Among them were Terry Lundgren, Stephen I. Sadove, Brendan Hoffman, Ron Frasch, Jim Gold, Carolina Herrera, Oscar de la Renta, Tory Burch, Reed Krakoff, Tommy Hilfiger, Francisco Costa, Derek Lam, Phillip Lim, Rachel Roy, Nicole Miller, Zac Posen, Jason Wu, Andrew Rosen, Simon Doonan, Julie Gilhart, Anne Keating, Martine Reardon, Ken Downing and Steven Kolb, standing shoulder-to-shoulder behind the mayor or leaning along the walls.

“Anything we do to remind people fashion week is going on is good, and anything we do to remind people that, in spite of the tough times that we have been and will continue to go through, there is a future and fashion is part of it,” said Bloomberg. “I happen to be reasonably optimistic on the economy, as I have said many times. But even if you are pessimistic, everybody understands that some day we’re going to come out of this and we want to make sure that people have jobs, and can get through this difficult time and make their mortgage payment.…Fashion is very important in terms of bringing tourists to the city [and] employing people in the city.”

Wang characterized fashion and shopping as “an outlet for one’s creativity and character,” adding, “From the high-powered woman in Oscar de la Renta to the postgrad buying his first suit, people can find self-expression, confidence and a style all their own in fashion.”

“Now, more than ever, it is important for New Yorkers to support their local community. The programming for Fashion’s Night Out is a great, fun vehicle to do so,” said George Fertitta, ceo of NYC & Company, the city’s marketing and tourism arm.

After the press conference, Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, who has spearheaded Fashion’s Night Out, told WWD the event will also happen internationally in cities where Vogue has editions, including in Britain, France, Italy, Spain, Greece, Japan, China, Taiwan, Russia, Brazil and India. Each city will involve designers and retailers, while interpreting the Fashion Night Out concept to best represent their cultures.

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