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Exclusive look at NY Fashion Week: It costs a fortune, but it’s ‘best bang for the buck’

It’s New York Fashion Week, and for the next couple of days, models will be showcasing runway looks from the world’s top designers. Each show is a highly anticipated event, the culmination of years of hard work, creative effort, and business acumen. Everybody who’s somebody in the fashion business is here.

We got an exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the Badgley Mischka show.

All that glitz on the runway is a product of designers poring over their drawings and sketches and coming up with a new look – a dress that women will fall in love with not just on the cover of some magazine, but actually buy online or in a store and bring home. These shows help bolster the fashion industry’s $385.7 billion market.

“There’s nothing more boring than a beautiful dress that just lives in the closet,” says Mark Badgley, co-founder of the Badgley Mischka fashion brand.

American designers Mark Badgley and James Mischka started their fashion business about 30 years ago in 1988 with a $250,000 loan from family. Their creativity and vision blossomed into a multimillion-dollar fashion empire. Their designs have been worn by Sarah Jessica Parker, Julia Roberts, Kate Winslet, Ashley Judd, among other celebrities.

Credit: Badgley Mischka
Badgley Mischka 2019 Fall Collection Runway Show at Spring Studios on the first day of New York Fashion Week. Photo credit: Badgley Mischka

It takes four to five months to get a dress from runway to the store once buyers are interested. A Badgley Mischka day dress retails for anywhere from $400 to $1,500.

Designers pull out all the stops for fashion week because it’s an integral part of their business. Show cost varies, depending on the level of production involved, fabrics, hours of handwork, as well as venue, which can range from $15,000 to $60,000, according to Fashionista.

“Shows are exhausting,” Badgley says. “They cost a fortune. But it truly is, we think, the best bang for the buck. It’s a ruthless business. It's where you can put together everything that you're working on and showcase it in the most meaningful way possible. We like doing them. We can't imagine not doing them.”

Badgley Mischka showcased its “Post War Glamour”-themed fall collection on the first day of New York Fashion Week at Spring Studios in NY. Models wore 30 designs from the Badgley Mischka Couture collection and Sportswear collections; 20 models wearing vibrant red cocktail dresses took the stage for the show finale.

Mischka says fabrics are the biggest expense when they’re developing the collection. “We use fabrics anywhere from $3 a yard to $300 a yard. We use everything from burlap to a crushed panne velvet that’s $180 a yard out of Paris,” says Badgley.

Despite its sometimes prohibitive cost, the runway show is an opportunity for the designers to showcase their clothes. “It kind of validates you as a fashion company to do a runway show and to have your video out there and to have your images out there on the internet,” James Mischka says.

It’s also where buyers from Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdale’s, see the product and decide which pieces they want to sell at stores.

“We let the designers design what they want to design. There’s not actually a sales strategy,” says Lara Piropato, Badgley Mischka’s EVP. “It’s really a creative process and organically, it turns out there are a lot of different price points that go down the runway, so it reaches different retailers.”

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