IMG Deal Spurs Questions About the Future of New York Fashion Week #Fashionlaw

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“NEW YORK — With William Morris Endeavor and Silver Lake Partners’ acquisition of IMG Worldwide Holdings Inc. for more than $2.3 billion, Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week has changed hands at a time when the future of centralized fashion shows here is in flux.

MBFW, which has been owned by IMG since 2001, will now become the property of WME and Silver Lake. IMG produces and is involved in fashion events around the globe in cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Miami, Berlin, Sydney, Mumbai, Moscow and Istanbul, where sponsorships with companies including Mercedes-Benz, American Express, Maybelline and DHL have made it a big business.

Officials at Silver Lake and WME declined interviews on Wednesday.

WME and Silver Lake will have their work cut out for them to make MBFW in New York more compelling and the show venues more attractive to designers and a better experience for editors and buyers. The crush of international media and fashion-industry voyeurs illustrates that there is no shortage of interest in the shows. But complaints have mounted that a logistically challenged, circuslike aura prevades the New York runway season. Designers such as Vera Wang and Carolina Herrera have publicly stated that they’re not interested in showing at Lincoln Center because of the atmosphere, although Herrera hasn’t made a final decision yet.

Interestingly, Ari Emanuel, co-chief executive officer of WME, made overtures 10 years ago when he was at the Endeavor Agency (where he was founding partner) to buy 7th on Sixth from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. He held several meetings with the CFDA in New York and Los Angeles, was very interested in fashion week and had a lot of ideas, said a source. Instead, 7th on Sixth was sold to IMG.

IMG’s contract for New York Fashion Week with Lincoln Center runs through February 2015 (fall 2015 shows). After that, the fashion shows will need to find an interim home. As reported, the Culture Shed, the arts center at Hudson Yards, is slated to become the new home of New York Fashion Week once it’s completed around 2017, and it’s still up in the air who would run the centralized shows. Outgoing Mayor Michael Bloomberg has dedicated $50 million in city funds to the Culture Shed, which is expected to present a new opportunity for American fashion.

“The business model for the Culture Shed is undetermined at the moment,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA. “The CFDA, Diane von Furstenberg and myself are all very involved in what fashion week will look like at the Culture Shed. What it turns out to be will be driven by the CFDA. There’s no contract for them [IMG] to go there.” He said now that WME, with their strength and assets, owns IMG, it may create a stronger fashion week. “Hopefully, they’ll build a stronger group venue,” said Kolb. . .”

-WWD has the full story.

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