The state of New York Fashion Week has been a buzzy topic since major players began dropping out. Without Altuzarra, Proenza Schouler, Rodarte, Public School and Thom Browne, many began to wonder whether or not NYFW still had an edge. And while another edition of NYFW came to a close last week, there are mixed reviews as to its importance.
However, NYFW’s display of labels’ fall ’18 collections weren’t a miss by any means; newer talents saw the spotlight, and shoes were front and center — thanks to one-of-a-kind collabs and statement-making designs. Marc Jacobs also had its moment on the runway as it closed NYFW, Paul Andrew showcased a collection of shoes that are as wearable as they are stylish, and Calvin Klein brought out a star-studded front row filled with A-listers including Margot Robbie, Nicole Kidman, Millie Bobby Brown, Laura Dern, Michael B. Jordan and Lupita Nyong’o.
And for designers who still stand with New York, it’s not without reason.
Sandy Liang, for example, partnered with Blundstone to provide the shoes for her presentation, using the brand’s classic Chelsea boots. The designer, who first launched in 2014, still appreciates that New York Fashion Week can be a platform for emerging brands.
She said, “I think fashion week matters because it’s when a lot of eyes are on the industry all at once, and it gives new designers a platform they might not have the rest of the year.”
Christian Siriano, who celebrated his 10-year anniversary with an impactful show surrounding current social issues, added, “Listen, New York is my home, my world, my love. I think there’s still a lot of heart here. Also, there’s so many people from different walks of life in New York and it’s important to celebrate that.”
Although, other designers are more critical of Fashion Week and its relevance as changes face the industry as a whole — and part of it has to do with format.
Said Jenny Packham, “I didn’t have a show last season. I’ve been doing shows since 2000 and just wanted a show break. I felt the show was becoming slightly less relevant. What we did last season was a much more intimate presentation where I got to meet the people that came and talk through the collection with them. I don’t feel we suffered last season and I’m quite excited to present things a different way. Having said that, it’s our 30th year in business, and in September we are going back to London and we are going to have a show.”
She added that she would review whether she will stick with the presentation or runway following the London show in September.
Tanya Taylor also noted that New York Fashion Week’s traditions are no longer effective.
“The power is in the hands of a designer to decide how they want to interact with their customer, and it being in a private formalized format doesn’t make any sense anymore,” she said. “The most important consideration for our brand is how to impact our customer thoughtfully, directly and quickly. A runway show isn’t as approachable or understood when there are new mediums available.”
Taylor added, “Fashion week as we once knew it still matters, it is just headed in a more positive and inclusive direction. There are no physical boundaries anymore, and that creative freedom helps smaller voices have impact in this industry.”
Whether you agree that NYFW has lasting power or if it still has the ability to provide a substantial business impact, the event does allow brands the chance to grow.
Designers Michelle Ochs and Carlie Cushnie, co-founders of Cushnie et Ochs, chatted with FN before their 10-year anniversary show last week to say that New York Fashion still matters for their brand.
Ochs said, “We met at Parsons, we built our business here, we produce 95 percent of our ready-to-wear in Manhattan. Shoes and handbags are made in Italy, but Manhattan is home to us. We aren’t going anywhere. We aren’t going to jump the calendar.” (Despite the fact that Ochs said she is here to stay in New York, the designer has since decided to part ways with the company. Cushnie will remain at the helm.)
Cushnie continued, “I personally think New York is very important. I don’t think it would’ve been the same if we started this business in a different city. This city enabled us to start small and grow and then also gave us visibility. This is what the brand is about. This is for a modern women, living in the city and leading a busy life. I think there’s no reason to leave.”