“I can handle crazy, but this is like a whole new batch of crazy.”—Overheard at NYFW
One week from today, the madness better known as #NYFW starts at The Dock with Nicholas K at 9:00 AM. From that point forward, we will spend the next four weeks carefully watching fashion show after fashion show after fashion show. Those that impress us the most we will review for Pattern. Those that don’t impress (which will be the majority) we’ll likely ignore. Those that are truly horrible, and that does occasionally happen, we’ll trash in the hopes that, like Mark & Estel, they don’t return next season (actually, we are beginning to wonder if Mark & Estel are going out of business. Their website hasn’t been updated since immediately after NYFW last year and no new collections have been added.).
With only a week left to prepare, we’re anxiously watching for any major announcements, especially should someone such as Hedi Slimane announce that they’re leaving their current label. For many designers, contract negotiations come down to the wire about now and it’s not at all unusual to see some of those fail right before a designer’s final show. So, here’s a quick look at the major topics we’re looking at for the moment, all of which are subject to change should something bigger come along.
Diversity is still an issue. We’ve talking about the lack of diversity the past two seasons, and last season (shown in September) was better than the one before it. Still, the early word from agents and casting directors is that very little is going to change from last season. That means we’ll still have an overabundance of runway presentations where two or three models of color appear only as tokens. What will it really take to change the status quo? Major editors and buyers staying away, which they’re not inclined to do. No one wants to accidentally miss a breakout line, so they put up with horrible behavior on the part of designers and fail to hold them accountable. When so much of fashion’s core demographic is any color but white, you’d think designers would do a better job of playing to a multi-ethnic audience. Unfortunately, this doesn’t look to be the season we see significant change.
How old is that model? Russian model Kristina Pimenova has done an editorial for Vogue Italia and campaigns for Armani, Gap, and DSquared² juniors lines. Her career is so hot at the moment that she just moved to LA. She’s ten years old. Yes, you read that correctly. Ten. While child labor and child modeling laws in Europe limit the age of runway models, there are no such restrictions at NYFW. While the CFDA strongly discourages the use of models under the age of 15, they have little recourse should a designer decide to not follow those rules. With the current editorial trend being toward young and younger models, there is more than a little concern that some may attempt to slip younger girls into the mix. This can be very difficult to catch, though, so we may not know until it’s too late to do anything about the situation.
Challenges in the contemporary market. If you’re not sure which labels classify as contemporary, think Theory, Alexander Wang, 3.1 Philip Lim, and Public School. Those and other brands rely less on traditional silhouettes and focus more on styles and designs that are more modern, and often more urban, than what we get from older houses. We tend to think of contemporary brands as more cutting-edge and trend-setting, but that doesn’t always translate well when it comes time to fill store shelves. Shoppers want clothes that are distinct, but at the same time they want looks with which they are comfortable. They’re also wanting deeper discounts, such as the pricing they get from fast fashion. Supply is currently outstripping demand and same-store sales have declined dramatically. We’re expecting contemporary labels to step up the high-end game a bit more this season in an effort to woo those more traditional designer shoppers.
Zoolander references everywhere you look. It is no mistake the movie Zoolander2 opens next Friday, the day after NYFW begins. Cross-marketing between the movie and the fashion world is excessively strong and multiple designers cooperated in the making of the movie, including cameo appearances by more than a few. As a result, catching the direct and indirect Zoolander references is likely to become something of a game. The only problem is, with the NYFW schedule so very, very full, who has time to stop and go see a movie?
Who are all these new people? Looking through the NYFW schedule, there are new names on almost every day. While there are always some major designers, such as Marc Jacobs, who show off-site and off-schedule, there are more than a few recognizable names missing from this season’s lineup. In their place are not only a larger-than-usual collection of new designers, we’re seeing more group and retail shows signing up for presentations as well. Kids Rock! hits the catwalk Thursday night, Fashion Hong Kong shows Friday afternoon, Asian Fashion Collection hits Sunday at noon, and the much anticipated JD.com show is next Wednesday at 7. For those not familiar, JD.com is China’s largest online retailer and their presence at NYFW is notable. We’ll be watching the newcomers very carefully and won’t hesitate to lavish praise on those who do especially well. Who knows, we may even find a new favorite!
Still being a week out means there’s plenty of time for additional issues and concerns to pop up as well. We’re trying to find reasons to get excited for what has recently been the most boring month imaginable. Let’s cross our fingers and hope this season is an exciting one!