I Blame Snapchat for Killing New York Fashion Week

As a Gen-Y digital enthusiast, I’ve always embraced social media’s integral role in providing live-time content. This form of free marketing and advertising has democratized fashion economics, and social media strategy has never been a hotter topic in increasing company visibility or first quarter sales.

But even I was disturbed by the social media culture this NYFW season. Because… well, #Snapchat.

* * *

The lights dim and all murmuring dissipate. The show commences and the audience lifts their phones in unison prepared to document and catalogue the show. The entire motion is nostalgically robotic. But something looks different this season. I squint my eyes and see Snapchat pulled up on about a third of the screens. At seven shows, I saw thumbs are pressed down, the red indicator loops around full circle, and voila! The first ten seconds of Kendall Jenner strutting down in her opening number ensemble have been captured. But it’s what happens next that’s disturbing.

Immediately, everyone’s phones and heads cock down. We know what comes next:

• “Let me do quality assurance and re-watch that.”
• “Which filter? Definitely the NYFW template, right?”
• “Got to place some text and label it as the #givenchy show.”
• “Almost done…let me press the arrow.”
• “Now, who should I send this to?” You hastily scroll down your friend list only to decide to post it on My Snap Story.

This season I was disturbed to stare at venues full of attendees fiddling with Snapchat settings during a crucial show that would be over in only seven minutes. Designers and production teams have worked for six months curating these short-lived shows, and the fact that attendees were willing to miss two or three runway looks to achieve one perfect Snap was in poor taste. The sight of a highly disengaged audience at a fashion show was upsetting.

Traditionalists claim that the very act of documentation prevents us from being ever-present, but no matter how right or left-winged your beliefs, audience heads physically cocked downwards staring at Snapchat settings during the show is incredibly problematic. Snapchat requires too much live-time maintenance during an already all-too short show, and I already miss the days when the Camera app was our only go-to option.

Digital voices are necessary, and I’ve been proud at how quickly the industry’s embraced Snapchat as another venue to push content. But what happens when everyone in the room is too busy choosing a Snapstory filter? Missing a number of looks automatically means you’re getting a discontinuous experience of the show, so how can we expect our audience to truly understand our designer’s collections, fabrics, and thematic elements? When abused, apps such as these forces the artistic experience to be only skin-deep so please, #Snapchat in moderation.

[By Jeanne Park.] [Read More] [Image from Wall Street Journal.]