Empty plastic champagne glasses and discarded goodie bags still litter the streets of New York and are now an homage to the second annual Fashion’s Night Out in New York.

From free manicures at Chanel, designer ping pong and karaoke contests at Barney’s, a fashion market inside the Ace Hotel, Polyvore contests at YSL and much, much more, this year’s FNO was something to be seen.

In a departure from last year, this year we decided to spend our time mainly downtown, which debuted an entirely different mix of patrons and style. The people watching was uncharacteristically satisfying and we were totally mesmerized by the amazing street style. It kept us entertained while we waited for our Rose Khaki manicures in line at Chanel☺.

But one thing we couldn’t help but notice was the lack of shopping bags to be seen. While FNO was started to drive commerce and get people comfortable with shopping again, as a participant you don’t really get the shopping itch. There is so much more to marvel at, from the people to the stores themselves, the DJs, celebrities, crowds and cocktails, that shopping feels like an afterthought.

It seems that stores are in a catch 22 situation; they need to flex their muscles by treating FNO as a branding exercise designed to drive PR, but they also want to facilitate sales. From the logistics to the one-upmanship that makes fashion the ultra addicting force that it is today, brands feel the need to provide added incentive to compete for traffic, and this incentive rarely has to do with merchandise. Once in store, it’s more about actually being there, in the middle of this elaborate scene the brand has created, and admiring the merchandise before moving on to the next place.

The stores with purchasers lined up seemed to be the smaller, independent stores, like Kisan in Soho where the owners were mingling and people were buying up things like Icelandic socks and Vanessa Bruno sweaters. At this location it was more about exploring the store through the merchandise, fraternizing and sipping a (very delicious) cocktail, which leaves us contemplating the dichotomy of merchandise versus entertainment as the focal point of FNO.

Fashion’s Night Out will continue to evolve year after year, brands will try different approaches, and the balance between branding and selling will inevitably shift back and forth.

As participants and spectators, it’s hard not to feel that this year was a total success and a must-go industry event. Fashion feels exciting and inspiration is everywhere. I am already in anticipation of next year.

See my pictures with Marc Jacobs below. Definitely, the highlight of my night 😉

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