Fashion’s Night Out began in 2009, when Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour wanted to find a way to get shoppers into stores in the height of the recession. The concept involved getting New York stores to stay open late for a night and hold events that would emphasize their commitment to the Vogue-sponsored cause while attracting potential customers.
It sort of worked. People showed up to stores, lured by celebrity appearances (“see the Olsens bartend”), free booze and food (“try the latest grilled cheese food truck”), and other random event-y things (“get your portrait drawn like a fashion illustration”). While it seemed unclear whether people were showing up to actually buy things or to just take advantage of all the free wine, the first Fashion’s Night Out was a fun experiment in retail-endorsed drunkenness. But then FNO happened again, and again — and again. By 2012 it had expanded to 500 cities around the U.S., and 30 around the globe. Finally, after four years, the event is not happening in the U.S. this year. The announcement has been met with much rejoicing from the fashion media, who hated having to cover the mammoth event on top of New York Fashion Week (the dates always overlapped). But that whining aside, Vogue and the country were smart to put the event to rest for now. Here’s why.
3. 1. It led to impromptu street parties that were actually dangerous.
Once stores shut at 11 p.m. in New York in 2012, a huge crowd of people flooded the street to continue the party.
4. This video captured the worst of the near-riot in SoHo.
People started jumping on top of cars unable to pass through the foot traffic. Gothamist reported that one Audi’s windshield was broken in.
5. 2. Booze was handed out recklessly, probably to a lot of underage people.
Stores don’t have liquor licenses, but the fashion industry’s de facto way of celebrating things — even if it is just the act of shopping — is by hiring hunky waiters to pass out drinks on shiny trays. Liquor sponsors didn’t seem hard to come by, but I never saw a single bartender or waiter check a young-looking person’s ID, which insiders told me quickly made retailers nervous. Some ended up ditching the booze to avoid serious and potentially costly reverberations.
6. 3. If you did try to go to a store to see a celebrity in the FNO wild, you were usually blocked from a meaningful viewing by a huge crowd of crazy people.
Now, does it really seem like a safe idea to plunk Justin Bieber in the middle of Manhattan’s Dolce & Gabbana store and just expect his fans to behave and keep the peace? No. No it does not.
Furthermore, this kind of environment is not conducive to shopping.
7. 4. Random photographers made stores impossible to navigate.
You can’t buy things or enjoy yourself when everywhere you turn, either a drunk person is spilling champagne on you or some E! host is trying to announce before a camera crew that Jessica Alba is standing in the corner wearing a purple dress.
8. 5. If you were hitting FNO for free spa treatments, you probably had to have them in public.
Getting a spa treatment is like vomiting — only meant to happen in private, definitely not in front of any type of camera.
9. 6. Ditto bra shopping.
If you’re not a Victoria’s Secret model, not meant to be photographed!
10. 7. The acronym really is not ideal.
Sound it out: F N O.. Eff Noooo…
11. 8. Stores were struggling to come up with new gimmicks to bring people out for the night.
If you started in 2009 with something really awesome — and many stores did — like (and this is made up) having Rachel Zoe perform an ice dancing routine, where do you go from there? Ski simulation video games? People who worked on the events agreed that it was becoming too difficult, not to mention costly, to put on a ZANY party each year that would get people talking not to mention in the door.
12. 9. There just aren’t enough celebrity DJs to go around.
Becka Diamond, Alexa Chung, and select models who are often called upon to “guest DJ” can only be in one place at one time, you know? The alternative — having a normal person play an iPod instead of an “It Girl” — is just not going to work at a fashion party.
13. That said, there are a couple of serious downsides to the death of FNO.
Like the opportunity to take fun Facebook photos with your friends at a store where these hilarious leather peplum suspenders just happen to be available.
14. Also, Anna Wintour is much less likely to do meet-and-greets with her fans outside the framework of FNO.
Which is tragic indeed. Her people want her to sign their Vogues, even if they have to buy Dwyane Wade’s book to do so.
15. Anyway, so long for now, FNO.
But this is really for the best.