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Fashion's Night Out Freeloaders: An Evening With The Booze Vultures

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Do Rihanna techno remixes, drunk teenagers in neon lipstick, honking taxis nearly running them over and 45-minute long lines to get into stores make you want to go shopping?

If not, be glad you missed Fashion's Night Out, the shopping event designed to make regular people spend money by giving them access to the exclusive world of Fashion Week for one night. The Huffington Post went to ask some of the thousands of attendees in New York City what their motives were for attending an event most city inhabitants describe as a "clusterfuck."

"We're following around the booze," said Shannon B., a recent graduate, while sipping on a glass of white wine in an empty-ish store on Wooster Street in SoHo. "I heard they have champagne at the Marc Jacobs party," said her boyfriend Rob. "Maybe we'll go there next."

Free stuff was by far the most popular answer. "I doubt I'll buy anything tonight," said Miranda Meyerson, a teacher, while munching on free food truck dumplings outside of Kate Spade. "But it's a fun scene. I'll probably not have to eat dinner."

Indeed, for every person with a shopping bag, there were thirty more double fisting plastic glasses of free mystery cocktails or craning their necks to glimpse the occasional reality TV star. Around 9 p.m., as thick layers of makeup started to sweat away, the towering platform shoes coated with studs and spikes also came off by the dozen. They were replaced by flip-flops -- or, for the truly drunk, bare feet. Kevin Sulzer, 20, of Long Island, felt daring enough to try on his friend Emily's five-inch platform boots. "We always wanted to be on a style blog!" he gushed when I snapped a photo.

Three years ago, when Fashion's Night Out was launched by Vogue US Editor Anna Wintour, brands hoped that it would balance out some of the extravagant costs of fashion week runway shows and parties by getting normal people out shopping. In its ideal form, the night also addressed a weird paradox of the industry's exclusivity -- the fact that brands need the ladies from Long Island to stay afloat and that cool kids who attend insider events rarely cough up for full-price fashion.

But last night, the majority of the people wandering around SoHo appeared to be under the age of 20 -- not exactly a high-rolling demographic. "I definitely didn't come with the intention to shop," said Vanessa Flores, 19, a student. Her friend Joseph Boose, 25, echoed the sentiment. "I would maybe have bought something, except payday is tomorrow," he said. "That's pretty dumb of them."

Fashion's Night Out now spans 19 countries, and despite the general consensus in New York that retailers rarely make money off of their events, there were 900 participating stores in the city this year. Some events had little to do with fashion -- at points, the night felt less like a celebration of shopping than a chaotic incubator for any sort of corporate marketing experiment, from Ford Fusion promotions to Vitamin Water trucks.

Meanwhile, some fashion brands made their events a bit less open to the hoards of tourists and teens, enforcing dress codes, creating separate VIP lines and offering snacks only after guests had purchased something. Perhaps for this reason alone, the circus wasn't completely without a lacquer of glamour. Where models or celebrities were slated to appear, long lines wrapped around the block.

"I know it sounds corny, but it's weirdly empowering to be in the same room as someone like Karlie Kloss," said Katherin Son, 24, who waited in line for 45 minutes at the newly-opened Piperlime store where stylist and designer Rachel Zoe would appear. "It makes me feel like these people are real and that I'm a part of this world."

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