Pulling Fashion Television’s Plug

In the week since Bell Media announced FashionTelevision was cancelled after nearly 30 years on the air, the reactions have been a mix of shock and reverence.
The lack of pomp and circumstance around its ending is no surprise in this day and age. To simply disappear seems common in Canadian media. (Remember Canadian Idol? Highest rated show in Canada ever?!) And formality?! Please. Jeanne Beker’s tweet broke the news.
FashionTelevision gave the masses access to fashion when it was only granted to a few. I understand why Jeanne and her microphone were no longer considered the force they once were. These days all kinds of media, bloggers and designers themselves are sharing the behind the scenes before the scene even begins.
But aren’t there still fashion stories to tell?
Other networks seem to think so. Television has begun to move beyond the design-driven, often catfight-ridden stories, found on the likes of Project Runway. Fashion is a business and shows like All On the Line and Fashion Star are shedding light on that. For the uninitiated, All On the Line features Elle magazine’s creative director Joe Zee rescuing designers in the midst of a crisis, helping them identify where they’ve gone wrong, and mentoring them through the changes needed to take their label in the right direction. Each show ends with a presentation to a select retailer whom Joe feels are the right fit. And after all, with his experience and connections, Joe knows best. (I’ve met him. He does.)
NBC’s Fashion Star gives a roster of independent designers a chance to be discovered on a national scale. Each week they work with their mentors – designer John Varvatos and celebrity designers Jessica Simpson and Nicole Richie — to create and present a single item to reps from three national retail chains: H&M, Macy’s and Saks Fifth Avenue.
The real drama is when the retailers bid on the items. They might make an offer, they might not. They might bid against each other to nab it for their store, as it can only go to one retailer. In any case it’s the designer who truly wins if they get a deal — that item is produced and immediately appears in (American) stores.
Side note: Having seen a winning item at a Manhattan H&M recently, the reality was a watered down version of what we saw on the runway, but nonetheless….
The point is, the business of fashion is not just a business. It can be entertainment. It’s a shame Bell Media – which owns the CTV network that carries Fashion Star in Canada – felt that a show with 27 years of storytelling and international audience couldn’t tweak their coverage to address fashion’s changing tides. Hopefully the FT brand that still stands can continue to represent fashion as an industry, and of course, fashion in Canada in a compelling way. Because right here, right now, that’s all we’ve got.
UPDATE: Jeanne responded to the article via Twitter shortly after posting….

“@theFList Good story Leesa! Have no fear. I’ll make sure Bellmedia’s fashion/style coverage lives on as FT brand evolves”