2021 New York Fashion Week: Tik-Tok has altered the meaning of exclusive high fashion runway shows

Covid-19 has altered the historical exclusivity found within New York Fashion Week. NYFW 2021 was packed with social media influencers who were invited to top-tier shows. Through the lens of their iPhones, influencers gave the public a personal, inside view of the shows that once were very hidden. 

It is nearly impossible to secure a seat at the runway shows of the timeless, ultra-luxury fashion houses like Dior, Chanel, or Louis Vuitton. Access to runway shows for brands even a tier down (i.e., Alice + Olivia By Stacey Bendet or Michael Kors) is almost just as impossible unless you’re willing to pay a pretty penny. In years past, unless you were already in the fashion industry or were a part of the ultra-rich, you would never be able to see just what goes down during these famous fashion shows. This new inside look is something that many aspiring professional fashionistas would just about do anything to see. 

2020 New York Fashion Week shows were canceled due to Covid-19, and the 2021 shows, which ran Sept. 8 to 12, had an expanded invitation list. Over the course of the pandemic, platforms like Tik Tok and Instagram have blown up, and simultaneously, interest in the fashion industry, and even more, in the careers of social media and fashion influencers has also blown up. The fashion industry is not blind to this growing interest. So, many companies have begun to grow their social media presence, even partnering with social media stars to spread their name. 

Liv Schreiber, a Tik Tok and Instagram influencer who runs Latico Leathers (her family owned-handcrafted leather bag company), Brand Caffeine (a Marketing Agency), Zoom Fashion Week (a Facebook group with over 1,000 members that helps teens break into the fashion industry), and Styled by Liv Schreiber (a personal styling service), believes that while some people in the fashion industry are “freaking out over this new open-door policy… you gotta get used to it.” 

Most notably, Emma Chamberlin, a 20-year-old breakout YouTube star, has built a solid relationship with Louis Vuitton. Chamberlin is the face of their Fall-Winter 2021 shoe collection. The fashion brand dressed her for her first Met Gala appearance, and since the relationship has formed, she has sat front row at each of the brand’s exclusive fashion shows. Chamberlin shows what happens when attending one of these high fashion shows through her Instagram stories. Further, both Chamberlin and Louis Vuitton have posted videos of her experience on their respective YouTube channels.

Schreiber stated that “influencers have more purchase power than magazines” and that “Tik Tok is our new Vogue.” Because consumers listen to influencers, influencers are a part of the future of fashion. That means that it might get even easier to get an inside look at top fashion week shows over the next few years. 

The “big five” of cities around the world that hold the most prominent, biannual Fashion Week shows are New York City, Paris, London, Milan, and Tokyo. Other global fashion capitals which also host Fashion Week events include Los Angeles, Berlin, Vancouver, Copenhagen, and Barcelona. Fashion Week events do not occur simultaneously but rather are spread out across many weeks. The two most popular events that occur each year are Womenswear Fall-Winter and Womenswear Spring-Summer, also known as Resortwear. In these shows, you may also see new menswear, bags, shoes, and accessories. 

Image source: Wall Street Journal

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