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Vogue/CFDA Cancels Fashion's Night Out [UPDATED]
How will this affect Milwaukee's event?

Image via Shutterstock

Women's Wear Daily announced that U.S. Vogue and the CFDA have decided to put the popular shopping event "on hiatus" for 2013, in what would have been its fifth year. Despite this, international editions of Vogue will still host similar events worldwide. The reasons for its hiatus status are a bit vague, but the event seems to have had an indeterminate value to retailers and designers after four years, despite the money plunged into DJs, free booze, snacks and gift bags.

By the time last year's New York events commenced, hysteria surrounding the night had been tempered. Some, like New York Magazine, even 
expressed annoyance with atmosphere it created. 

According to the WWD piece, "Over the past four years, designers and retailers found that they have had to invest more and more of their resources to maintain a high level of quality, and there unquestionably was some backlash, especially from designers who were staging fashion shows at the same time." It seems timing, which was always the eve of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, played a part, too. 

Last year, Milwaukee participated in the "official" event for the first time (though similar unofficial events have happened since 2009). And until recently, organizers were planning to host it again this September. So, what does this mean for Milwaukeeans?

One of its organizers, Jordan Dechambre, tells Milwaukee Magazine, "Fashion's Night Out Milwaukee team will be carefully considering all of our options – and reaching out to local retailers for their input and guidance – as to the future of a local fashion event for 2013." For now, the answer is unclear. 

Dechambre says last year's event drew more than 1,500 people to Downtown Milwaukee. But did it pay off for local participants? 

Noah Bern, co-owner of A Trio, says he "loved" the 2012 event. The store offered Sciortino's cookies and juice, and though they saw a lot of foot traffic, that didn't necessarily translate to sales. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a positive experience. He says the event was "like a 50 percent of gallery night, but it was all women. And women love jewelry." 

Lydia Hamilton-Monnie, owner of Boutique Larrieux, thinks participating was worth the effort. Her store hosted a Not Your Daughter's Jeans trunk show as part of the celebration. "The event went over really well for us," she says. "It was well attended. Regardless of the FNO event, we have events every month." And Milwaukee's 2012 efforts did indeed result in additional sales for her boutique. 

The Third Ward Association's Communications Director Ruth Lawson, says that FNO 2012 was "overall successful." The Association acted as behind-the-scenes sponsor, and helped coordinate communication between retailers and other sponsors. When asked if she thinks those efforts were worth it, she says: "I hope so. I mean, that's why we do events for our retailers, not only to familiarize people with the neighborhood, but also to get them in the stores." 

"Whether or not people buy something – they're at least familiar with the merchant," Lawson adds.

The Shops of Grand Avenue participated in ways similar to those retailers in New York, and featured a live band, complimentary snacks and wine, and nail polish changes. Although those things meant more foot traffic, they did not translate to sales. This was because the festivities began after mall hours, says Tracy Korpela, the Shops director of marketing and specialty leasing.

But would the Shops participate again? They would definitely consider it, she says. Especially if celebrations began during the day. 

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[UPDATE] Today, March 22, the organizers of last year's Fashion's Night Out Milwaukee and the Historic Third Ward Association have announced that the event will live on, in a way. It is now being combined with October's Gallery Night (Oct. 18-19), in that clothing and accessories boutiques in the Third Ward will now be asked to open their doors as well. It appears that the organizers will still be banking on the Fashion's Night Out moniker, though whether Conde Nast would approve remains to be seen. 





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