Why we still need Fashion Week

A model presents a creation by Desigual during the Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014 collections on September 5, 2013 in New York.

Another fall also means it is time for yet another Fashion Week. This time around, a few things have changed: There'll be a plus-size line heading down the runway; Fashion's Night Out is off duty; and perhaps most importantly, social media tools like Instagram and Vine have done much to take over the spotlight.

At the same time, many have spoken out against the kind of circus that the event has become, and designers big and small are reverting back to small, intimate affairs to show their lines. One big name to do so is Oscar de la Renta, who was quoted saying "it's become a circus," before announcing that he's scaled back his invite list to just 350 for his upcoming show.

"I think somebody like Oscar de la Renta is making a statement like that because he's a high-end designer and he wants to make sure that he takes care of his high end buyers -- the department stores like Neiman [Marcus] and Saks," Kate Betts, author of "Everyday Icon," argues. "On a bigger-trend level, fashion always reacts against itself. So, maybe he's just reacting against the circus and the hype of the last few seasons."

Many of the bigger shows can cost upwards of $1 million, Betts points out.

But as shows get more exclusive and more accessible through social media, do we really still need a fashion week?

"It has become an extravaganza, but it is very much still an industry," says Betts. "Fashion Week started because designers needed to show their clothes to the press and to buyers... I think the point is that fashion shows are still created for the image of the designer or the brand. A Michael Kors or a Donna Karan needs the fashion show so they can project their image around the world."

About the author

Kai Ryssdal is the host and senior editor of Marketplace, public radio’s program on business and the economy.

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