A Brief History of New York’s Fashion Week

By Samuel Phineas Upham

New York has been a center for the fashion world since the early 1900s, when European fashions first came to America. At the time, it was quite popular for fashion magazines to print the latest fashions out of Europe, which is how Harper’s Bazaar got its start. Before that, Vogue was founded in 1892 on similar principles.

The first fashion week wasn’t really a “Fashion Week”, per say. Eleanor Lambert, who was acting press director of the New York Dress Institute announced that all fashion shows would be put into a single week she dubbed “Press Week”.

That was in 1942. By 1992, Press Week had become a full blown gala that nearly takes over New York City. Runway shows were held in private lofts and apartments, as fashion grew an underground culture. These shows, while seemingly simplified into one block of time, were surprisingly difficult for fashion editors to attend. During at least one show, the roof of the venue threatened to cave in.

In 1993, everything changed when Fern Mallis of the Council of Fashion Designers of America decided that all shows should be held under one roof. This was really the first time New York’s Fashion week showed a side that would be recognizable to us today. All events were scheduled within a series of tents, an idea that took off and proved popular.

The event was dubbed “7th on Sixth”, and was eventually sold to IMG. Today, IMG produces the signature shows while the CFDA oversees the larger list of all events in the area.


About the Author: Samuel Phineas Upham is an investor at a family office/ hedgefund, where he focuses on special situation illiquid investing. Before this position, Phin Upham was working at Morgan Stanley in the Media and Telecom group. You may contact Phin on his Samuel Phineas Upham website or Twitter.

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