Barbies, music videos, interactive Web sites—are these the new alternatives to full-fledged fashion shows? Many elite designers, including Vera Wang and Betsey Johnson, abandoned the catwalk at this spring’s New York Fashion Week, where a 20-minute show can easily cost in excess of $100,000. Instead, Fashion Week featured Barbie’s 50th birthday show, put on by Mattel, while Halston launched its collection via a music video on YouTube and Catherine Malandrino, a popular French designer, focused on reworking her Web site to recreate the intimacy and accessibility of a boutique.
The recession is forcing brands to come up with alternatives to business as usual, and these are sometimes proving to be better approaches than the old status quo. And digital technology is helping marketers create new experiences that are modern, stylish, fun and intimate. Ironically, the expensive catwalk is now being invaded by $120 dresses from QVC—the TV and Internet shopping brand put on a runway show of its own during Fashion Week.