It's September 8, 2011, the evening of the third annual Fashion's Night Out (FNO) in New York City. FNO, the city's largest shopping event, began in New York City in 2009 in the midst of the economic crisis. The brainchild of Vogue, in collaboration with the Council of Fashion Designers of America, NYC & Company and the City of New York, the event was developed in hopes of boosting the local economy. Today, FNO is a global initiative hosted by 19 cities including, Istanbul, Seoul, London and Sydney.
FNO's goal is two-fold: to celebrate fashion on a local and global scale and to restore consumer confidence by supporting spending in local businesses. Each participating city holds a variety of events in stores, on the streets and other venues such as designer and celebrity appearances, fashion shows, giveaways and musical performances. This year, however, with FNO coinciding with the 10th anniversary of 9/11, the event is more than just a night of shopping - it has also become a strong statement about solidarity and the appreciation of the everyday.
Since arriving in the city yesterday, I have noticed two very different kinds of energies: excitement over Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including FNO, and nervousness as the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches. With news reports trickling in of a potential terrorist threat, including a statement from the White House that it has information as to a specific, "credible but unconfirmed" threat, it is not surprising that the atmosphere around the city is tense at times. Although President Obama asserted that preventative measures had been taken and will continue to be implemented in order to mitigate any threats, it was the words of New York City's mayor, Michael Bloomberg, which reflected the spirit of this year's FNO. In an official media address to the city, Bloomberg maintained the importance of normalcy and that "the best thing we can do to fight terror is to not let it intimidate us." Bloomberg urged the public to continue with their daily activities because "living our lives without fear is the best form of defense against terror."
Participation in a night designed to celebrate the creative energy of the city, support local businesses and engage in blithe fun sends a clear signal of strength and unity, despite the potential of a legitimate threat. When the population partakes in an event where fear is imperceptible, the symbolic significance of the message is clear: "we will not be intimidated." British Journalist, Simon Hoggart claims that shopping for Americans "is an affirmation of faith in their country, its prosperity and limitless bounty." What better time and place to demonstrate this faith than at this year's FNO?
|Carnival theme at Marc Jacobs|
This year, over 200 stores participated in FNO in New York City. With so many venues throughout the city, being organized and armed with a plan is a must. My FNO schedule included six main stops, with ample room to spare, because as I soon realized, I was easily distracted by venues I was not previously aware of. My first stop was Marc by Marc Jacobs Women's Accessories on 310 West 4th Street, a small shop with a huge personality. As I piled into the tiny space to ogle the coveted bags, I was struck with a thought: everyone is here for the exact same reason as myself. While not a profound thought in and of itself, given the recent threats that have plagued the city, it was surprising to have such a positive turnout.
The pleasure and contentment of the large crowds was both contagious and surprising. Fear was not a welcome companion here, which supports the fact that this year, FNO allowed the public a sense of respite and some much-needed relief. When speaking to a New York native, this sentiment was validated. She expressed the evident police presence in the city and the recent talk of an imminent threat has put people on 'edge'. FNO, therefore, was a positive means for New Yorkers to gain a sense of normalcy. Wandering around the crowded avenues filled with happy participants, I couldn't help but agree. Perhaps there is truth to the old adage of "retail therapy" - FNO seemed to be doing just that.
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