Pret-a-Reporter

How Fashion Week Has Changed Since WME Bought IMG

Miller Mobley
Patrick Whitesell and Ari Emanuel

"They made a decision to take Fashion Week and move it to Lincoln Center and basically were damaging the brand. So we had to go back and rebuild it," says Patrick Whitesell.

In their first extensive interview since WME purchased IMG in 2014, co-CEOs Ari Emanuel and Patrick Whitesell open up to The Hollywood Reporter about how they've improved the experience at New York Fashion Week.

"They made a decision to take Fashion Week and move it to Lincoln Center and basically were damaging the brand," Whitesell told THR of where the IMG-produced shows were being held prior to the WME-IMG merger. "So we had to go back and rebuild it."

The duo has since moved the shows to three new locations — Skylight at Moynihan Station (360 W. 33rd St.), Skylight Clarkson Sq (550 Washington St.) and a headquarters, which is fittingly called HQ at 451 W. 14th St.

"We had to revitalize fashion, which we've done," says Emanuel. "We brought out the [Fashion Week] app, we brought out our digital [initiative]. We made the events better. We brought new sponsors in. We bought Made."

The company acquired its rival Made Fashion Week, which supports emerging designers, and expanded its presence in the weeklong extravaganza.

But rebranding NYFW hasn't been an easy feat. As Emanuel recalls, "The minute we bought [New York Fashion Week], three advertisers pulled out, right? It was a major problem."

"So we had a whole strategy about it," he says. "We now have an OTT channel, we have our app, we have our digital strategy, they're now all going to come together."

FRONT ROW: Emanuel with Vogue’s Anna Wintour at Carolina Herrera's fall 2015 show at New York Fashion Week.

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