What is the “Official” New York Fashion Week?
The short answer is: there is none. Legally, New York Fashion Week belongs to everyone. (Although producing a show and getting press still usually means going with an established producer.) Interested in the history? Get ready for a long and winding road.
Eleanor Lambert Creates “Press Week”
Fashion editor Eleanor Lambert creates a series of events in New York called “Press Week,” meant to draw attention to American fashion designers. The shows are held under the auspices of the New York Dress Institute.
Ruth Finley Creates the Year-Long Fashion Calendar
Ruth Finley creates the subscription-based Fashion Calendar. Published every other week, it listed locations and time for all fashion shows and related events in New York City throughout the year.
The Term “Fashion Week” Comes into Parlance
The term “fashion week” comes into use, possibly as a result of the first London Fashion Week, held in October 1983.
Fern Mallis Creates “7th on Sixth” in Bryant Park
Fern Mallis, then executive director of the CFDA, consolidates the citywide events in a single place by staging them in a cluster of white tents in Bryant Park. The event is branded “7th on Sixth.”
CFDA Sells “7th on Sixth” to IMG
The CFDA sells the trademark of 7th on Sixth to IMG.
2004 – 2014
IMG Produces Olympus Fashion Week and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
For 10 years, as the CFDA ceases involvement with New York Fashion Week, IMG produces a series of sponsor-branded shows called Olympus Fashion Week and Mercedes Benz Fashion Week.
“New York Fashion Week” Exists as a Generic Term
As IMG produces “Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York” (part of an international portfolio of MB-branded fashion weeks), other outlets such as New York Fashion Week LIVE and New York Magazine compile and maintain their own “New York Fashion Week” schedules, containing both IMG- and non-IMG produced shows.
Unknown Company Trademarks “New York Fashion Week”
In 2013, an unknown company called Fashion Week Inc. registers the trademarks “New York Fashion Week” and “NYFW” to use in conjunction with planned consumer-based fashion shows. They still hold those trademarks, although they produce no shows and in 2016 the court deemed their trademark legally unenforceable.
After 10 Years, CFDA Returns to NYFW
After a ten year hiatus from New York Fashion Week, in 2014 the CFDA purchases the fashion calendar website from Ruth Finley.
IMG and CFDA Sued
On June 28, 2016 Fashion Week Inc. files a lawsuit for $10 million against CFDA and WME-IMG for trademark counterfeiting, trademark infringement, false designation of origin, dilution, and unfair competition. The lawsuit is rejected based on the fact that the company cannot show evidence that “New York Fashion Week” or “NYFW” is established in the minds of consumers as being associated with their company.
New York Fashion Week Remains for Use by Anyone
As stated in The Fashion Law, companies and calendars claiming to represent a single “official NYFW” have “little, if any legal rights in the NYFW name.” (Full article.)
Legally and historically, shows have been organized and spoken of as “New York Fashion Week” in various forms for more than 70 years, by a variety of different entities.
This means any show held during the historical timeframe of New York Fashion Week (roughly speaking, the second week of February and September), is an official New York Fashion week show.
legally and historically there has never been a single entity behind New York Fashion Week
However, certain shows (such as those produced by IMG) comprise some of the most high-profile of the season.