Fashion Week Is a Money-Maker, Not an Occupier

Say what you will about Fashion Week, but it's good for New York City's economy.

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Say what you will about Fashion Week, but it's good for New York City's economy. This year's events are on course to generate a record $865 million, according to Mayor Bloomberg. Approximately $532 million of that is "direct visitor spending on local hotels, restaurants, and stores," meaning the fashion industry's cash goes beyond, simply, the fashion industry. The industry itself employs 5.7 percent of the city's entire workforce, so look to your fashion friends for a round this Friday.

The last time such spendy figures were compiled was 2007, when Fashion Week brought in $773 million. Seth Pinsky, president of the Economic Development Corp, says, “It’s just as the years go by, people continue to spend more. They’re spending more on hotels, they’re spending more on restaurants.” This has city marketing sorts hungering to bring it full circle: According to Erik Ortiz writing in amNewYork, there has been interest expressed in a "Made in New York" label that "would add cache to designers' lines."

Meanwhile, as the 5.7 percent-plus enjoys Fashion Week, Robin Givhan alerts us to the fact that Fashion Week has largely ignored the 99 percent Occupation we were all abuzz about just months ago.

Designers have been happily showing their luxurious mink dresses, their new versions of skinny jeans and their painted-on sheaths and no one is acknowledging—or seemingly even influenced—by an economy gone haywire and a social insurrection that has middle-class suburbanites sleeping in parks and presidential candidates railing against class warfare.

Givhan continues, "There’s nothing wrong with New York designers focusing on the 1 percent. (Don’t we all aspire to join them?) But in this pivotal moment, most designers have missed an opportunity to explore the beauty, bravado, turmoil, and rage that lives within the majority."

Is this because we have short memories? Because fashion and protests (and fashion industry people and protesters) don't exactly go hand in hand? Or is it that, like Bloomberg, we're so thrilled with the idea of an influx of money into our town and our pockets that we can't be bothered with anti-establishment thoughts right now, when it's so cold outside and Zuccotti is no longer occupied (except, recently, by Giants fans)?
But, in truth, one should look to the season that came before -- Spring of 2011, if not Fall, for hints of protest-wear. Because anything you'd see on the runway now would be simply derivative.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.