Lessons to be Learned from FNO's Demise and Anna Wintour
As Fashion’s Night Out (FNO) is finally being put to rest, I’ve taken the time to reflect on Anna Wintour’s power. Specifically, whether or not she’s “too big to fail” and if she’s smart enough to navigate any disaster that may come her way.
It’s no secret to those who know me that I have a love/hate relationship with the snappish lady who put fashion to bed with politics. I don’t recall when I first became aware of her power, but it’s been an enlightening experience to see her move mountains and (probably) buy herself an ambassadorship position in the process. While I am still working on figuring out her superpowers, I am sharing with you the lessons I’ve learned from her FNO fiasco.
Let’s start from the beginning.
Remember 2009? Between the economy crumbling and Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme, the most affluent felt less than optimistic about their futures and, consequently, stopped spending. The fashion industry was caught with their pants down and excess inventory, which lead to panic and erratically slashed prices. Anna Wintour knew how to capitalize on the nervous frenzy.
What you should take from this experience: TIMES OF CRISIS ARE THE BEST TIMES TO CONSOLIDATE POWER. Don’t be afraid of a crisis. Regardless of the later outcome, you will get people to pay attention to you in that moment.
I don’t want to imply that from the very beginning FNO was just a plot to further Anna Wintour’s career. However, let’s not forget that after coming up with the FNO initiative and being perceived as saving the fashion world from crumbling, Condé Nast gave Anna Wintour another five year contract.
Lesson to be learned: MOST PEOPLE GET PERSONAL GAINS WHILE THEY LOOK LIKE THEY ARE SAVING THE WORLD.
Now, to me the FNO plan looked doomed from the beginning. I am going to quote Gawker here because I couldn’t say it better:
“The plan seems to spend a lot of money getting people in the stores to spend a lot of money. The one thing we haven’t heard anything about is discounts. Just because Catherine Malandrino is converting her Meatpacking showplace into a French cafe for the evening doesn’t mean that suddenly more people will be able to afford one of her cocktail dresses.”
The lesson: WHEN PEOPLE THINK YOU ARE AN EXPERT, THERE IS NO LIMIT TO WHAT YOU CAN SELL, REGARDLESS OF HOW CRAZY IT IS.
After four years — which seemed to drain rather than fill the fashion industry’s coffins — FNO has finally been put to rest. Anna has not personally spoken on th topic yet, and I doubt she will.
When Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), was asked about the money brought in by FNO, this is what he had to say:
“I don’t think the success of it was measured only by numbers or money, but was really about engagement. Everyone feels we had a great four years.”
What is the lesson to be learned here? REGARDLESS OF HOW BAD A SITUATION IS, IT IS RARELY A 100% FAILURE. FOCUS ON THE POSITIVE AND MAKE THE WHOLE THING LOOK LIKE A SUCCESS.
By Mirela Gluck
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