Of course, PRs and designers – especially indie, cash-strapped ones – are feeling the squeeze. “Everything seems to be harder,” says Mandie Erickson, PR director and owner of Seventh House PR, whose team is handling four presentations spanning 13 designers for NYFW spring/summer 2019. “There are more designers out there and the competition’s harder than ever. So, absolutely, you have to be really creative and be willing to think outside of the box.”As an extension of beauty, health and wellness sponsorships are becoming more common at NYFW. “This season we’re talking to a beauty elixir brand, like a drink that makes you beautiful. That’s being creative,” says Hillary Taymour, of sustainable womenswear and accessories label Collina Strada. While hair, make-up and nails for her conceptual shows always end up covered, she does feel the industry volatility in working with a rotation of key artists each season, dependent on the sponsor.
These days traditional sponsor expectations, such as a logo inclusion, VIP gifting and shout-outs on the designer’s social media aren’t as enticing as earlier years. “[Sponsors] want to come up with something custom, something special, something that comes to life, something you can take home, something that’s different that really makes the audience see them on an interesting platform,” says Erickson.
For the NYFW debut of British streetwear brand Hardware LDN, known for its celebrity following (Bella Hadid, Sofia Richie and Jourdan Dunn to name a few), Erickson brought in The Ash Center as a sponsor to create an experience for influencers. The holistic healing centre will provide a Zen environment backstage to circumvent the usual chaos, and offer treatments to models, editors and VIP guests, who will hopefully head there themselves after the fashion month frenzy (and Instagram about it, of course).
In line with Hardware LDN’s 1990s aesthetic, shoe brand Skechers also signed on and will provide archival sneakers which founder and designer Jessica Horwell will customise and incorporate into the label’s runway looks. “I’m taking the Skechers shoes, removing the laces, adding buckles, adding chains to places and all these different things to show my appreciation to my sponsors,” says Horwell.