WWD Covers Fashion’s Night Out

It may be a one-night stand, but Fashion’s Night Out, an effort to bring shopping back in style, is gaining more participants.

It’s crossing borders, with department stores as far flung as Sogo in Taiwan and GUM in Russia signing on to a roster that already includes Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Lord & Taylor and Macy’s, among others. Key malls and shopping venues in Italy, France, China and other countries will participate, too.

Fashion’s Night Out will be Sept. 10 and the deadline for retailers to register and provide details of their plans is Aug. 1. Fashionsnightout.com outlines the program and is the place to register.

Worldwide, retailers on Avenue Montaigne in Paris, the Via Della Spiga in Rome, malls in Beijing on ChangAn Avenue, the DLF Emporio Mall in India and the Kolonaki shopping area in Greece are participating, among other venues.

Shopping has declined because of the weakened economy and, when they do shop, consumers are bargain hunting. Fashion’s Night Out is intended to lure people to stores without playing the usual price card.

Set for the beginning of New York Fashion Week, the event will involve a cornucopia of in-store events, from parties to personal appearances by designers and celebrities, live music, fashion shows, freebies, charity tie-ins, extended shopping hours and other incentives to attract consumers. The Council of Fashion Designers of America, Vogue, the City of New York and NYC & Co. are spearheading the event.

“There will be great values, but hopefully we will be able to motivate the customer in many different and new ways,” said Brendan Hoffman, president and chief executive officer of Lord &Taylor.

The purpose of the event is to remind everyone “just how wonderful shopping can be,” said Vogue editor in chief Anna Wintour, who proposed the initiative. In New York City alone, she said, “Over 300 stores citywide have signed on thus far, but I really want to urge everyone who hasn’t done so already to come on board.”

“It’s almost like giving you permission to shop so you don’t feel guilty about it,” said Martine Reardon, executive vice president of marketing at Macy’s. “Everyone can band together to make it happen,” meaning give a lift to the economy.

All 40 Neiman Marcus stores are participating. “Fashion’s Night Out is very clever,” said Karen Katz, president and ceo of Neiman Marcus Stores. “The idea is to make people not feel guilty about shopping, and that’s the way we are approaching the fall season in general. The customer has to have a reason to come into the store, and relax, have a drink, look around at the fall merchandise and feel no pressure. It’s about having a nice night out. We haven’t really thought of it in terms of the competitive landscape. The idea is to promote shopping as fun and entertainment and to try to give a boost to the fall season.”

If they come to the stores, consumers should fall for some of the fall trends, Katz said, citing the color red, vamped-up shoes and motorcycle jackets.

Among the many plans by retailers, Neiman’s at NorthPark Center in Dallas will feature Matt Tyrnauer, director of “The Last Emperor,” a documentary about Valentino. A director’s cut will be screened outdoors. Neiman’s in Hawaii will host a design competition with a local school, and the store’s restaurant will prepare a Fashion’s Night Out menu. Neiman’s in Short Hills, N.J., will have a fashion scavenger hunt for prizes.

Eight Macy’s in New York City, including the Herald Square flagship, will stage a series of events, among them a Rachel Roy appearance at the flagship, where the windows will feature the Rachel Rachel Roy diffusion line. The backdrop will be art from The French Institute Alliance Francaise’s Crossing the Line fall festival.

At Lord & Taylor’s Fifth Avenue flagship, photographer Patrick McMullan will host an exhibit of his work and New York City firefighters in a 2010 calendar will be on hand. Calendar sales will benefit the Staten Island University Hospital Burn Center.

Alexander Wang will instruct shoppers at Barneys New York on the art of runway modeling, then sign T-shirts at Bergdorf Goodman.

There are several charity tie-ins, with sales of a limited edition T-shirt to benefit the National Sept. 11 Memorial and Museum at The World Trade Center, and a citywide clothing drive for the NYC AIDS fund.