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The Row Banned Cell Phones From Its Runway Show. Is That a Good Thing? Highsnobiety

The Row’s latest fashion show, held during Paris Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2024 on February 28, was probably very good. But us plebeians not in attendance will never know.

Yes, The Row is one of the most exclusive brands in luxury, we all know this, but The Row hit a new level of The Row-ing by "kindly asking" (a very polite way to say "dictating") attendees of its most recent presentation to not use their cell phones.

Instead, they were given notebooks to write thoughts in real time.

No social media, no instant uploads, no documentation of what went down. If a fashion show happens and no one films it, does it make a sound?

Indeed, the fact that even several hours after The Row’s show, no imagery of the collection is yet online is practically unheard of in our ultra-connected — I might say over-connected — world.

Reactions on social media from the terminally fashion-pilled were quite extreme, at first.

New York Times fashion writer Vanessa Friedman was quite brusque about The Row on Twitter, offering a couple snippy tweets in response.

A few other The Row fans were pretty overtly bummed about the fact that they simply wouldn’t be getting their biannual dose of Row runway.

But there was ample praise of The Row’s move, too.

Some pointed out, fairly, that The Row’s anti-social media act simply elevated its already ample air of exclusivity. And what’s more exclusive than experience?

It’s also, frankly, a worthy reaction to the overstimulation inherent to Fashion Week, where attention-hungry influencers and outrageous runway antics often supersede the actual clothes.

In a way, The Row’s cell phone-free show channeled the era of the fashion salon, when society’s most pampered and privileged would gather to gawk at exquisite wearables.

More concretely, though, The Row recreated the pre-Y2K fashion show experience, where critics were forced to take pen to paper to record their thoughts in real-time, as there was no way to accurately capture real-time imagery (unless they had their own cameras at the ready and even that was dependent on view and seat).

Inadvertently, The Row also revived one of the least appealing elements of pre-Y2K fashion shows: the haves-vs-have-nots dynamic.

Fashion is an inherently aloof business and these are exactly the kind of things that reiterate that exclusivity.

Only the insiders who attended the show will ever know what it looks like, unless The Row publishes its own imagery, which it might not.

After all, The Row’s past several collections were presented as lookbooks and it could very well follow suit here. Why not? It’s The Row.

But if there’s any upside to the explosion of runway-adjacent content-capturing, it’s that fashion events are comparably democratized. They may not be literally open to everyone but anyone can view them from afar.

Truth be told, though, I’d only be particularly moved to react if this mandate was applied to the entirety or even a minority of fashion shows.

This is The Row doing The Row things and I’m totally fine with them being the exception, not the rule.

And, let’s be honest: it’s so rarely about the fashion at Fashion Week.

Yes, the clothes are there, but so often the focus is on anything but. It’s ironic that, despite all the screens absorbing the looks sent down the runways, it often feels like so few people are actually seeing them.

You could even view The Row’s little episode as a response to that. "If barely anyone is actually looking at our clothes, why should anyone even be able to see them?" Or something like that.

It’s unapologetically gatekeep-y — hell, it’s literally gatekeeping! — and if it was another brand, it’d be justifiably side-eyed.

But amidst all the empty Fashion Week stunts, this is one of the few that doesn’t ring hollow.

Visit Highsnobiety to view this part of the article.

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