Brands Dress Up for Fashion Week

New York Fashion week kicks off this Thursday with “Fashion’s Night Out,” a global event spearheaded by Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour that celebrates the fashion industry and, the organizers hope, will stimulate store sales.

Retailers in eight cities around the world, from Paris and Milan to New Delhi and Beijing, will stay open late to offer a special night of shopping jazzed up with celebrity and designer appearances, musical performances and special events.

More than 800 stores in New York, from Payless to Louis Vuitton, are participating in the five-borough event, which is being produced through collaboration among the City of New York, its marketing arm NYC & Company, American Vogue and the Council of Fashion Designers of America. International editions of the Conde Nast publication lead the local city events.

“The idea is to get out there and celebrate the fashion, promote the retail apparel industry and help restore consumer confidence and boost the economy in doing so,” said Edward Hogikyan, vice president of marketing at NYC & Company. “Everyone recognizes one night isn’t going to change the world, but what it can do is reenergize people.”

While the event is designed to boost sales, deep discounts won’t be part of the night’s offerings. “We actually discouraged that,” explained Hogikyan.

“One of the issues is that the consumer has got into such a mind-set waiting for the deal, that ultimately it’s hurting the retailers. This is about changing the consumer perception, that you can pay retail and you can have a unique shopping experience.”

To help promote the event, advertising is running on city media assets, including outdoor on bus shelters and kiosks and in New York City’s 6,500 taxis. A celebrity-studded PSA created by Laird + Partners has been playing in cab monitors, as well as on TV, online and spread virally through social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.

Designer Isaac Mizrahi opens the 30-second spot with the invitation, “Let’s make shopping fun again.” He is joined by a variety of designers, including Diane von Furstenberg and Vera Wang, celebrities such as P. Diddy and Sarah Jessica Parker, and Vogue’s legendary editor to invite viewers to come out on Thursday night. Each is wearing a signature “Fashion’s Night Out” T-shirt for sale that will benefit the Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum. They also ask consumers to join the fashion festivities, which will include a clothing drive benefiting the NYC AIDS Fund. The ad is upbeat and directs viewers to “because behind every designer,” says Wang, “every brand,” says Diddy, “every store,” adds Donna Karan, “is an entire fashion industry counting on you!” sum up designer Oscar De La Renta and model Cocol, as a white backdrop descends to reveal a city street filled with cheering people wearing the charity shirt.

“The industry is going through a hard time,” said Trey Laird, founder of Laird + Partners, which created the ad. “We wanted to find a way to say it’s not only fun to shop, but more importantly, there are people and jobs and an industry behind it. When you chose to buy nothing, it’s not just about you but all these people [behind the scenes.] A lot of people don’t think about that.”

Laird was inspired by iconic fashion photographer Richard Avedon’s treatment for his subjects in The American West and turned to Unzipped’s Douglas Reeve to direct and aWHITELABELproduct to produce.

In addition to the taxi cab network, the PSA is running in previews to the documentary film about the production of a single issue of Vogue, titled The September Issue, and in various lengths, including a behind-the-scenes 90-second edit, online.