Fashion Week for All Women?

New York Fashion Week (#NYFW) news seems to be permeating from almost every media outlet right now, ranging from the New York Times and the Huffington Post to the more traditional fashion and beauty media like Refinery 29, Pop Sugar and Eva Chen’s Instagram account. Walking on the streets of New York, you can experience NYFW in full swing–the clothes, the paparazzi, the almost-impossible-to-actually-walk-in shoes and no available appointments at the Dry Bar. The glamour and appeal of NYFW is undeniable, but the clothes, and the models who wear them, project an image (and a price point) unattainable for many women.

Enter a new fashion show: #RoleModelsNotRunwayModels by Carrie Hammer. This work wear designer has shaken up the traditional fashion show paradigm by replacing  supermodels in high fashion couture with “role models” in beautiful work wear (click to tweet). I have the pleasure of knowing Carrie through our roles on the advisory board of BlogHer/SheKnows and I am so glad I had the opportunity to see her show—it was incredibly inspirational. The role models included a myriad of powerful females from Fortune 500 executives, to figure skating Olympic gold medalist Meryl Davis. The crowd cheered wildly as comedienne and Disability Advocate Maysoon Zayid, a disabled women herself, strutted down the runway.

Real women wearing real clothes that you can really wear to work and look great? What a concept! Given that almost half of U.S. moms are the primary breadwinner or earn on par with their partner (according to our Breadwinner PheMOMenon Study), the idea of chic work clothes for professional women is much more in line with most women’s lives than the high fashion we’re typically accustomed to during this time of year.

Though an anomaly at NYFW, the show was a huge hit. The line to get in wrapped around the building and eventually turned into a standing-room-only of attendees, media and even a few kids. The energy was palpable and after the show, the media swarmed Carrie and the role models. The coverage has been phenomenal, ranging from agenda-setting media like Fortune and the WSJ to fashion, beauty and women’s publications. Carrie’s goal is to create a “runway revolution” and I’d say she’s well on her way.

This show, and perhaps a trend focusing on real women, may enable more brands not traditionally perceived as high fashion to get involved with #NYFW in a substantive way that garners positive results in an authentic way.

About Kelley Skoloda

Kelley is a Partner and Director of Ketchum's Global Brand Marketing Practice. She is the author of of the business book, Too Busy to Shop: Marketing to Multi-Minding Women (Praeger/Mar 2009) and the architect of the widely-publicized Women 25to54 offering.