Norma Kamali

Norma Kamali’s Tech Savvy Fashion Week Show

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Pictured: All the Faces on the Wall from the Norma Kamali collection

Far from the madding crowds at the Bryant Park tents and the media three ring circus, there is a different kind of Fashion Show going on just a few block away. This show maybe the new model for fashion shows that Donna Karan was talking about last week at Parsons. Norma Kamali is putting on a unique show that uses technology, affordable fashions and garments that are available for sale today, not in six months. Even more unique, her show is open to the general public at her store on 11 W. 56th St. between Fifth and Sixth Ave in New York City until Feb. 18th. Anyone can attend her fashion exhibit this week and walk through her store to see her designs, learn about healthy lifestyle changes and take a self-guided tour of the different collections she designs. To bring this high-tech fashion exhibit to life, Norma Kamali is using ScanLife mobile technology. Each item in her exhibit is coded with a bar code. Fashionistas can download the ScanLife technology from the web, then scan items in the exhibit using the picture taking ability on their iPhone or Blackberry. Once the picture is recognized by Scan Life, a video telling the story of the item is delivered directly to the user. Its like going into a museum and renting the headset with the self-guided tour. Except, this guided tour is free, because you don’t need to pay for the equipment. Ms. Kamali’s cutting-edge use of technology was one of the reasons she was nominated for Style Coalition’s Fashion 2.0 Award for Fashion Innovator.

Pictured: Visitors to this week’s Norma Kamali Fashion Week exhibit can scan the code for items like NK’s $48.00 US trench from Walmart on their mobile device, then watch a video story on their device about the item. And even better, when you scan the code, you might win the item you are looking at.

There are at least three different price points for the fashions at Ms. Kamali’s flagship store. The Recessionista priced lines are her Walmart collection (from $8.00 to $48.00) and her eBay collections. Her high-end fashions (OMO, all made in the USA) are also on display and for sale. These include the famous swimsuits that are several hundred dollars and were featured in movies the Sex & the City and Mama Mia! and Oscar worthy gowns. The variety of price points, designs and fabrics selected for each collection make her garments uber-accessible to all consumers. There is literally a Kamali line for each consumer’s budget. Soon, there will be even more choices for shoppers as Ms. Kamali is about to move fashion forward into the fast-growing plus size market. She proudly tells me she is about to start work with a size 2X fit model to begin designing a Women’s line. (Her Walmart collection already available in sizes 16-18.) This is truly the democratization of fashion. Regardless of size or your budget, Norma Kamali will provide options for all fashionistas. Here are a few of those style options from my guided-tour today in her store.

Pictured: Coming attractions, new NK swimsuits for her eBay store.

Pictured: A dress from Norma Kamali collection along side a Walmart NK “All in One Top” and and an NK Collection skirt

Pictured: An assortment of NK Collection Black tops (far left Walmart top), skirts, coat and cocktail dresses.
Pictured: Grey is the new black in the NK eBay fleece collection. These pieces are the perfect way to keep the chill away!

After touring Norma Kamali’s store today and looking at the versatility of her designs, plus learning about the story behind each one, I was amazed. I had to ask the designer, “Why are you one of the few designers embracing technology to bring your designs to a broader market?” After considering this for a moment, she replied, “I think I learned that years ago when I worked at the airlines. The airline industry was one of the first industries to use computer systems and technology to work with customers to deliver reservations and travel services. From that, I learned the importance of using technology to provide customer service.” Today, Norma Kamali is moving that philosphy of providing service to customers forward via tech tools like Skype and Scanlife. Customers can talk to representatives at NK Collection via Skype about their fashion needs or the garments they want. The use of Skype makes the conversation with the service representative more personable and conversational, via audio or video. Other Norma Kamali innovations are her “try before you buy program”, where you can order her designs and try them on in the privacy of your home, before buying. Getting close to customers is a winning formula in today’s tough economy. In the current environment, not only price but service will become a key differentiator for consumers. And what better way to get close to customers, but via the Internet and the hand-held devices that we all carry now? Its a low-cost recipe for customer satisfaction.

Pictured: The Fabuless One, Designer Norma Kamali dressed for her Fashion Week show in her finest Walmart NK Collection grey fleece jacket and skirt with elephant T-shirt.

To all the fashionistas, recessionistas and fashion innovators out there, I would encourage you to check out Ms. Kamali’s exhibit this week, or her website to learn more. Everyday of NY Fashion Week, I saw “wanna be” attendees waiting out on Sixth Ave to try to access the inner sanctum of the “tents”. Inside, I saw more lines of press, bloggers, buyers and even celebrities waiting in line to get seated or get a “standing” ticket to view shows. With the NK Collection, the wait is over. Why wait in line, when you can breeze in, stay warm and enjoy some beautiful fashions at your convenience?


Since 2008, Mary Hall has been the author of The Recessionista Blog, which is read by thousands of regular readers in over 160 countries. An internationally recognized expert on the art of the living the good life for less, she has been a commentator on local, national, and international radio and TV shows. Her advice has been featured in over 2,000 media outlets, including The New York Times, Reuters, Life & Style magazine, ABC News, NBC News and now The Huffington Post, among many others.


  1. balufeb16

    February 16, 2010 at 7:16 am

    Good post, nice blog. Thanks for share. Nice pictures. I like this post. I am follow your blog.

  2. Emily Harris

    February 17, 2010 at 7:04 pm

    I honestly cannot believe what I'm reading. First, let me speak your praise, Ressionista. I mean really, 98% of the world buys clothing in the walmart price point. I love that you acknowledge that! AND help us out with it.

    So, on to this post. I will be going this afternoon. And budgeting accordingly. What a brilliant woman Norma Kamali is. Truly.

    Okay. So, I'm so pleased to meet you! Will be in touch!!