New York Fashion Week | Marc Bouwer’s online experiment


NEW YORK, United States – While the rest of New York Fashion Week was caught up in its regular Bryant Park frenzy today, designer Marc Bouwer was busy blazing his own fashion trail, exclusively showing his S/S 2009 collection on his website, thereby giving everyone a front row view.

Of course, we have seen other designers, notably Stefano Pilati for YSL (first with menswear, and most recently women’s resort) and Husein Chalayan, create videos to showcase their collections. And, Giorgio Armani made history when he streamed his Armani Prive couture collection for Spring 2007 online, gaining kudos for democratising the storied world of haute couture. Net-a-Porter also innovated by putting up Roland Mouret’s RM19 collection in an online video and commerce site mere hours after showing during Paris Couture.

But Bouwer’s approach is a first for an independent designer without the clout of a YSL or Armani, nor the support of a major online retailer. So, how well did his experiment work?

In short, I was underwhelmed.

I tuned into the Bouwer website today after a long day of shows and, leaving the aesthetic of his collection aside, I found myself wanting something more. Neither did his online presentation have the artfulness of Chalayan’s videos nor did it have the commercial savvy of the RM/Net-a-Porter collaboration, which allowed viewers to order directly from the runway. Rather, it was just a video of women walking down a runway to a soundtrack.

And here’s the kicker. This unimaginative effort still cost up to $100,000, according to an Eyewitness News segment on Bouwer that has shown on repeat in the back seat of New York City taxis this week (though a WSJ article reported that the show cost up to $75,000.)

Either way, while Bouwer’s effort to be innovative is admirable, what’s the point of doing an online show if it doesn’t make a lasting impression?

At the end of the day, a fashion show, online or not, should create a mood that viewers will remember. If designers are going to show their work online, they must not constrain themselves to the format of a traditional fashion show. Rather, they should think out of the box, using all the potential of new media to do something that wasn’t possible before.

Marc Bouwer S/S 2009 courtesy of Marc Bouwer.

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  1. Ditto. My comments are not based on the garments or styling, but on the way the message was delivered via this runway video. I want to root for a designer and a brand but I felt so underwhelmed, it’s as if the presentation actually eroded any personality I would have associated with the designer. Instead of feeling innovative, it felt like the company found a cheap way out. It didn’t draw me into their story, or champion their difference as a brand, or articulate their reason for being, I felt as if I was watching a how to video created by Popular Mechanics or Consumer Reports or something equally bland, but functionally straightforward. It’s what I would expect from a Costco runway show, but of course, Costco are amazing merchants and they’d sell us the items immediately and in quite a few velour and ultrasuede variants. Hope they (the Marc Bouwer team) fights back and learns how to tell me who and what they are next time. I love a comeback story and would love to see them rise higher than this. Now, if they book insane amounts of orders from this video, well, I’m all ears and have never claimed to be above learning new e-tricks.

    Randall from Mill Valley, CA, United States
  2. asos has done it already…

    yilei from Mansfield, Nottinghamshire, United Kingdom