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Abe Gurko Headshot

Fashion's Night Ouch?

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Don't get me wrong, I have been a cheerleader for Fashion's Night Out since the day it was first announced over three years ago. In fact, we rallied retailers that first year as there were plenty of skeptics. Naturally, Anna Wintour prevailed. The 3rd Annual Fashion's Night Out was a zoo, especially down in the Meatpacking District. So zoo-like, that it was unpleasant in certain spots, with lines to get into stores, blaring dueling DJ's in the streets and plastic cups strewn on the ground, like a bad weekend street fair. The street activities need some curating, benchmarks, something, because it can come off as UN-fashionable, perhaps even downmarket. (And we we all know who dislikes downmarket anything.)

There were long lines at Bloomingdale's, Sak's, Macy's and YSL. And upon hearing of the cluster fuck of pre-tweens at Dolce & Gabbana (thank you Twitter) because of Justin Bieber, who was actually raising money for Pencils of Promise, my question is:

---Did all these retailers clock monumental sales?
---How much will the benefiting charity get this year?
---How much did they get last year?
---Will there be an increase in dollars raised?

In small print on the FNO website I found this: Forty percent of proceeds raised from sales (of FNO merchandise) will go to the New York City AIDS Fund in the New York Community Trust. That is a good thing to know. But what is a better thing to know is that that the Fund has granted over $19 million dollars since 1989 to 180 not-for-profits. How many of FNO night's revelers knows this?

After seeing how enthusiastic and motivated all the consumers are that come out in droves (and van loads from New Jersey) I would like to suggest that going forward FNO ratchet up the fundraising aspect of this campaign. If you are going to engage Glee and all the other celebrities at the many ports of call, then talking points about why they are there, is a good starting point. Clearly, it is not all about shopping, ask most retailers. It becomes about star gazing and drinking. Lots of drinking. The locations that book top-tier talent could easily sell tickets where the proceeds can go towards the charity. So, what, you then eliminate the riff-raff to those who refuse to pay? Boo-hoo.

FNO might look at other event initiatives like the New York Food and Wine Festival, where there are free as well as ticketed events citywide. We are an altruistic, generous society. And on a night that has proven to be wildly successful, getting people in a festive mood to do something positive would not be a stretch. Even the Oprah Angel Network concept of giving one dollar, or your loose change is a better option to just a bunch of tire-kickers and looky-loos. Quite honestly, FNO has grown beyond the idea of getting people into the stores as a promotion for Vogue. It might be wise to expand the format, create a committee to include other media outlets and really expand the charitable aspect of FNO as a global fundraising force. Anna has created a fabulous monster, and one that can be tamed. But what do I know?