Rebecca Minkoff was one of the early adopters — and most vocal supporters — of the shift toward a "see now, but now" fashion calendar. She's long spoken about feeling at odds with the industry, just for daring to engage with digital influencers and her customers early on. That connection has been one of her main arguments in favor of the whole schedule switch-up, so it wasn't entirely surprising when she brought it into the fold for her first fully in-season runway. Among the cool-yet-relatively-relatable models at yesterday's sidewalk catwalk, the designer invited bloggers and influencers Arielle Charnas, Chriselle Lim, Gala Gonzalez, Shea Marie, and Caroline Vreeland to walk in her fall '16 show. The "runway to retail"-themed event, which was open to consumers and editors alike, took place outdoors, in front of Minkoff's Soho boutique. The idea was to ground the collection both in the city backdrop (New York being a constant source of inspiration in her design process) as well as in a context where potential customers can see themselves in the clothes that would be shoppable immediately afterward. (Once Minkoff took her final bow, showgoers and passersby were invited into the store to see and buy fall '16 pieces immediately.)
"When we decided to take our show to the streets, we wanted to include girls that our consumers know as fearless, liberated, innovative and stylish," Minkoff explained to Refinery29 in an e-mail. "They’re their own champions and with the street concept it felt important to add the realistic element of who the quintessential Minkoff girl is. Arielle, Chriselle, Gala, Caroline and Shea completely embody those qualities — they break the rules and re-write them." Bloggers have become front-row fixtures over the past decade — but seeing one of them actually walk the runway is still a pretty rare, mostly unheard of, occurrence. "Our goal was really to strip away the stigma of the industry and give our consumers the ability to come and watch in person or see it live in VR 360," Minkoff said in a statement. Inviting "real girl" models feeds into this idea, as these digital influencers have proven the ability to move designer product by situating it in everyday settings and styling. The fact that the bloggers cast in Minkoff's show all have massive followings doesn't hurt, either. These influencers dutifully took to social media to share the occasion. Gonzalez, who had a modeling career before starting her blog, thanked Minkoff for helping her check NYFW off her list. Charnas called it the "biggest rush ever," while Marie and Vreeland brought their street style twinning game.
As the "see now, but now" conversation keeps gaining traction, will influencers on the runway become a new normal? We'll have to wait and see how this new chapter plays out.