Fashion designers, many of whom have already flown the coop when it comes to choosing their New York Fashion Week show venues, are truly on their own now.

IMG said Friday it is making some big changes in its operation of New York Fashion Week. It will pivot from producing a centralized venue for NYFW: The Shows to concentrating its efforts on facilitating brand partnerships and creative collaborations between brands and designers. It looks to provide tailored support that aligns with designers’ needs year-round.

Through Focus, IMG’s in-house creative and production agency, the company will continue to concept, and produce fashion shows, consumer experiences, tastemaker dinners and events globally. Plans haven’t been finalized as far as hosting talks with designers and brands.

Last December, IMG said it was exiting Spring Studios as the official hub of NYFW: The Shows, and set up a new central location at the Starrett-Lehigh Building at 601 West 26th Street in Chelsea for the fall 2024 season in February. It also used the consumer-focused NYFW Backstage at 21 Greene Street, and NYFW: The Showrooms at High Line Nine, all produced by Focus.

Before the most recent February shows, Spring had been the central hub since February 2018.

Even though Spring and, more recently, Starrett-Lehigh had been the official home, designers — especially most of the major ones — continued to hold shows all over New York City, in Brooklyn, Chelsea, the Upper West Side, Roosevelt Island, Midtown and the Upper East Side, often back to back, making it extremely difficult for showgoers to make it on time to all those they wanted to see.

During the most recent February shows, Starrett-Lehigh was used by 15 designers over five days, with most NYFW shows held in various venues throughout the city.

The Council of Fashion Designers of America owns the Fashion Calendar and is the organizer of the official New York Fashion Week schedule. Last February, the official NYFW schedule featured more than 70 confirmed designers, with additional collections being presented digitally and by appointment.

The New York fashion shows have relocated several times over the years, from the tents at Bryant Park, to Lincoln Center to Skylight at Moynihan Station to Skylight Clarkson Square, before landing at Spring, and then Starrett-Lehigh.

Historically the centralized location had been the place for runway shows and presentations, retail pop-ups, digital activations and designer partnerships. There were various spaces available for women’s fashion shows and presentations.

IMG said it is committed to continuing its longtime support of designers in bringing their creative visions to life as they find ways to showcase their collections.

Since February 2020, IMG has provided more than $20 million in funding to American designers through initiatives including the WME Fashion Alliance and by allowing brands to integrate organically into NYFW and providing designers funds to help offset costs. Other initiatives include NYFW’s Small Business Grant in partnership with Empire State Development, which awarded $500,000 to 10 independent designers in 2022, and the Black in Fashion Council Showrooms, which helped raise awareness for designers Theophilio, Diotima and House of Aama, among others.

Meantime, Australian Fashion Week will not be impacted and IMG will continue to produce and operate a central venue at Carriageworks. Australian Fashion Week, presented by Pandora, begins May 13 with a schedule of more than 55 live events, featuring designers such as Carla Zampatti, P.E. Nation, BEC + Bridge, in addition to talks an programming throughout the week.

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