UPPER WEST SIDE — The beautiful people who flocked to Lincoln Center for Fashion Week earlier this year didn't just add glamour to the neighborhood — they pumped close to $21 million into the local economy, according to a study by Fordham University business students.
The study surveyed stores, restaurants and hotels in Lincoln Square — the neighborhood that surrounds Lincoln Center — to find out whether February 2011 Fashion Week boosted their bottom lines. The students also quizzed Fashion Week attendees and behind-the-scenes employees about their spending habits.
"We've proved a hypothesis that, yes, there is a positive impact of Fashion Week in the immediate area," said Peter Johnson, a professor of marketing at Fordham who oversaw the study.
Fashion Week moved to Lincoln Center in 2010 after 17 years at Bryant Park. The twice-yearly event showcases designers' upcoming collections for the fashion industry and draws roughly 130,000 fashion professionals and members of the media.
Fashionistas dropped an estimated $20.9 million in Lincoln Square during February 2011's Fashion Week, according to the study. Attendees spent an average of $650 over the course of the eight-day event.
The largest share of those dollars — 27 percent — were spent at venues such as meeting rooms or private dining rooms in restaurants that fashion professionals rented out for gatherings. Additionally, restaurants garnered 20 percent, retail stores accounted for 16 percent, and hotels got 14 percent.
The seven students who conducted the study said they tried to cast a wide net by speaking to a mix of businesses, including high-end eateries such as Per Se, corner delis, CVS pharmacy, the Hugo Boss store at the Time Warner Center, the swank Empire Hotel and the more humble Comfort Inn.
The study had several limitations, and relied on a mix of anecdotal evidence and some hard numbers. Of the 44 businesses that responded to the surveys, some didn't want to share information about cash receipts, while others couldn't produce reliable data because the study was performed over the summer, several months after February 2011 Fashion Week ended.
No similar study was conducted when Fashion Week was held at Bryant Park, but a recent New York City Economic Development found that citywide, Fashion Week generates $233 million in spending on hotels, restaurants, taxis and stores.
Some Lincoln Square boutique owners DNAinfo interviewed said they saw little economic impact from the first Fashion Week at Lincoln Center in September 2010. Many restaurants have tried to cater to the couture crowd with a special promotion called "Fashion Plate Prix Fixe."