This Fashion Week, perhaps more than other recent seasons, young up-and-coming designers have more outlets to show their apparel to the crowds of fashion folks gathered for the industry's big showcase. Outside the tents, newer names like Simon Spurr and Billy Reid held court at Milk Studios—participants of the Made, presented by M.A.C. shows—and musician Avril Lavigne's Abbey Dawn label and Sachika showed during Elle's Style360 series. Gen Art's one-night showcase, Fresh Faces in Fashion, returned too, bringing seven emerging clothing designers and four accessories brands to Manhattan Center Studios on Friday, September 9. The event was Gen Art's first fashion function since relaunching this past February under the ownership of Sandow Media, and debuted a three-event partnership with Smart Car.
“It's obviously so exciting to be part of Gen Art's relaunch and at the same time, there's such an incredible legacy,” said Elizabeth Shaffer, who was named co-president of Gen Art, along with Jeffrey Abramson, when the organization opened after the acquisition. “Jeff and I feel like we've been handed this incredible opportunity and we want to do right by the brand, but we also want to freshen things up and take note of the things that have changed over the years.”
What that meant to Shaffer and Abramson was not only bringing aboard corporate sponsors to support the effort, but integrating them before, during, and after the event. This included lead partner Palladium Alliance International, a consumer and trade group that promotes palladium as a jewelry metal, launching a competition for the featured accessories designers that will give the winner the opportunity to create, produce, market, and sell a six-piece capsule collection. Publication New Beauty, a subsidiary of Sandow Media, will feature coverage of the show, while Smart Car offered the chance to win V.I.P. tickets through its Twitter account.
“The way that brands are integrating and aligning through events, and aligning with talent, it has to expand beyond the live event experience. The event experience in and of itself—having direct access to consumers in an organic, integrated, interactive, and experiential way—is a one-of-a-kind opportunity for advertisers. To get product and have direct dialogue with consumers and members of the press, industry, and talent, under one roof with extensions pre and post, is really where things are now,” said Shaffer. “That's something we keep in mind as we're moving forward.”
Unlike the other Fashion Week shows, Gen Art's was open to consumers, as well as buyers, editors, and other members of the fashion industry, and the organization's brief disappearance didn't seem to affect interest—by September 1 the show was sold out and more than 1,200 packed the venue's grand ballroom on the night. In addition to host Erika Christensen, Fresh Faces in Fashion also drew celebrity guests, including Jaime King, Kelly Rutherford, and Project Runway season one winner Jay McCarroll.