From the Oscars to the Met Ball, plenty of events have borne the nickname “The Super Bowl of Fashion.” But when it comes to matching the Super Bowl’s propensity for sponsorships, the only real contender is New York Fashion Week—or, more precisely, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week—which wrapped up its semiannual run last week.
The tents at Lincoln Center have become a smorgasbord of sponsored spaces and events. This year’s showgoers could try on virtual reality headsets at the Samsung lounge, browse street-style looks at Ebay’s “inspiration hub,” get primped at TRESemmé’s salon, and, of course, check out the Mercedes in the lobby.
While a boon for brands looking to align themselves with the glamour of Fashion Week, the increase in sponsorships has created some backlash. “It’s hard to walk through the tents without tripping over someone hawking a makeup brand, asking you to demo a phone or offering hair spray touch-ups,” said one top fashion editor. “It distracts from the Fashion Week experience and clutters the entire venue.”
The corporatization may also be hurting Lincoln Center’s relationship with designers. “Each season it seems like fewer shows you feel you must see are there. Perhaps if it felt less like a mall, designers would think it’s cool,” added another editor.
Not all branding was out of place, though. Some sponsors were able to seamlessly integrate into the shows. “Swarovski always does a good job because when they sponsor people, that just means the designer has to show sparkly clothes, which are always fun,” said the editor.