Fashion's Night Out takes on Boston

by Christina Jedra / Beacon Staff • September 13, 2012

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Last Thursday night, Newbury Street was a thumping nighttime block party with live bands, free food and drinks, and fashionistas dressed to the nines, teetering in their sky-high heels. With the many 20-somethings who attended, Emerson students dolled up to shop and explore.

Fashion’s Night Out, an annual worldwide event started by Vogue Magazine’s editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, graced the streets of Boston for the second time to kick off the start of New York Fashion Week. Newbury Street was closed to traffic as stores stayed open late, some offering special deals for the occasion, as well as swanky club-like atmospheres. The streets were flooded with college-age shoppers, Emerson students included. 

“I came mostly for the free food, but went in with an open mind,” said sophomore journalism major Amanda Gomez.

Wearing a high-waisted blue skirt and vampy lipstick, Gomez said she wanted to make a statement with her outfit for the event. 

“I feel like this is a formal thing. Before I left, I made sure to throw on some lipstick, but I’m not wearing my prom dress,” she said. 

Gomez wasn’t the only attendee who considered her ensemble ahead of time. Some shoppers wore cocktail dresses, on-trend mullet skirts, and heels that required a friend for balance.  

Fashion’s Night Out began in New York City  as a way to attract customers back into stores during the 2009 recession, according to CBS. Since then, it has expanded across the globe with over 500 cities participating, each store having their own way to draw in buyers.

In Boston, many stores boasted free booze, hors d’oeuvres, and booming pop music. Some locations went outside the box — Madewell offered free hair-braiding, and Free People helped visitors make their own headbands.

According to senior writing, literature, and publishing major Tzivia Halperin, the best part of the event was the atmosphere. 

“The best part was going in there and participating in the party. It had a vibe, a schtick,” said Halperin, who said she sported a “1940’s formal” look. “I actually saw a lot of Emerson students. It was a lot of young people. I didn’t see anyone over the age of 26.” 

While people can attend the event without spending a dime, Kara Cunningham, manager of Free People at the Prudential Center, said that the excitement surrounding the event does lead to an increase in sales.

“They’re definitely coming in and buying,” she said. “We have a lot of customers excited about our fall catalogue.” 

With an influx of people may come a higher risk of shoplifting, but Cunningham said she had prepared for that. 

“We usually have a little bit of difficulty [with crowds this size], but we’ve been controlling that tonight,” she said, explaining that she directed additional sales associates to the fitting rooms where most thefts occur. 

Shannon Dwyer, a sophomore journalism major who attended last year’s Fashion’s Night Out, said that she was more reluctant to spend money this year because she spent too much on a garment last time.

 “It was really overpriced, but I just got into the mood of things,” she said. 

Trying to avoid retail regret, Dwyer said she focused on the party aspect this time around, noting UGG as one of her favorite stops. 

Emerson College Fashion Society president Sydney Kirsten applauded Fashion’s Night Out second venture in Boston, but encouraged them to connect with students more next year. 

“I know Fashion Society was contacted by a few stores [to promote the Fashion’s Night Out], but they could have done a better job contacting students,” she said. “In New York, it centers around fashion shows, but here it’s more of a social gathering feel.” 

Overall, Kirsten said she considered Fashion’s Night Out a success. 

“I think they did a great job. It’ll grow and attract more college students,” she said. “It was a great opportunity for the city to step out of its comfort zone and express itself”