Today, on the ritual Thursday that follows Labor Day’s long weekend, another fashion week season is set in motion. It’s just like the first day of school. You see old friends, reflect on the summer, lament about the trek to the Upper West Side — but wait, unlike the seasons of yore, we’re no longer traveling to Lincoln Center. Instead, the nucleus of New York Fashion Week will be called “downtown,” with two Skylight Group-owned locations (one on 33rd Street, the other on Washington) as the dominant headquarters. Most shows will occur within a 15 block radius of one another, which will vary tremendously from the exhaustive 60+ block commute editors endured last season.
The shift makes sense given the recent migration downtown (One World Trade Center is the new home to Condé Nast and therefore several fashion publications and their editors). The gravity is moving further south, so why wouldn’t designers accommodate the relocation?
In its final seasons, Lincoln Center became an exploitative marketing hub. The abundant sponsorships and collaborations left a bad taste in the mouths of those who cut through the clutter of promotional hashtags on free coffee and charging and coconut water stations, almost forgetting they were there to see shows. But this transition denotes an even more more salient condition in fashion and culture right now: we’re just not wired to tolerate inconvenience anymore.
Our reliance on smart products — phones, tablets, watches and even t-shirts, and the multifarious conveniences they present: service apps and profound artificial intelligence geared towards making our lives easier — indicate that we don’t just yearn for but expect ease and efficiency.
Why take a taxi when you can contract a personal driver through the mere tap of a phone screen?
You’re still grocery shopping? But you can have a TaskRabbit or Postmate do that for you. Amazon will even deliver your toilet paper without your having to tell it to — just schedule it, like an alarm. We’ve developed a codependent relationship with convenience in our lives and that sentiment is bleeding into fashion — proclaiming through the most recent geographic jigger that now, the ultimate luxury is defined by expediency.
And with that, of course, comes comfort.
Look at the proliferation of some recent trends as proof. We’re seeing structured suits that resemble pajama sets, heralded by the exclusive pairs Michael Kors designed for Vogue staffers for last May’s Met Ball as a literal, granular example of this comfort. Echoes of normcore still litter the streets, providing less fodder for photographers, and heels have become the exception, not the rule, among those who walk through the litter.
Fashion has long been a window into the cultural zeitgeist, a physical, if not urgently frivolous manifestation of our lives. If the comfort factor has made it easier to focus on what’s in front of us on the runway as opposed to what’s in front of us on the sidewalk, perhaps it could be said that with the convenience-switch flipped on, the kibosh on small talk chatter around getting from the Upper West Side to Milk Studios will leave more room for meaningful conversations about the clothes.