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New York Fashion Week is becoming more accessible

Polish American Foundation - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion WeekPolish American Foundation - Runway - Spring 2016 New York Fashion Week
Models at New York Fashion Week.Noam Galai Getty Images

WMG/IMG is the entertainment and sports management company that is completely reinventing fashion week, the New York Times reports.

The company currently owns and operates 13 fashion weeks around the world, including New York Fashion Week, which begins on Thursday. Fashion Week used to be “an event by the trade, for the trade,” the report said. WMG/IMG is changing that and making it much more inclusive, starting with NYFW.

Chief executive of WME/IMG, Ariel Emanuel, says that fashion is just another form of entertainment, like sports, movies, television, and books. And what’s the point of entertainment if the industry is only entertaining itself?

WMG/IMG is introducing new ways for consumers to gain access to NYFW. There will be streaming screens on 14th Street, and specified “visiting hours” for regular folk to go into the venues and rub elbows with the fashion crowd. The company is also releasing a NYFW app, available for free in both the App Store and Google Play, that will live-stream Fashion Week content, including runway shows, and likely some behind-the-scenes action.

The company is also in talks with ABC Family to create a documentary that follows 7 fashion week figures, including a designer, a buyer, and a fashion model. The company will also launch an all-fashion channel, Measure 2 Measure, starting in October, a few weeks after NYFW, in an exclusive deal with Apple (AAPL) TV.

Not everyone is on board with these moves towards inclusivity. Higher profile designers, such as Marc Jacobs and Diane von Furstenberg, have opted out of WMG/IMG’s fashion week and will instead show independently. Others, including Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger, will be “district associates,” meaning they’ll appear on WMG/IMG’s schedule and app, but will not show at its venues.

Mark Shapiro, the chief content officer for IMG and the one in charge of all these transformations, is disappointed by those who are distancing themselves from this reimagined Fashion Week: “There’s a lot of, ‘Wait till someone steps in the pool first.’ ‘Wait till they see how cold the water is.’ They need to take some changes. Need to put themselves out there.”