Designers show out at NYFW: Men's despite lack of sponsors
New York Fashion Week: Men’s concluded its fifth season on Thursday, July 13, continuing to push forward despite hindrances like the loss of prominent designers and sponsors like Amazon.
Top names like John Elliott and John Varvatos were missed this season, because they have been a part of NYFW: Men’s since its inception, but their departure made way for emerging designers to make a name for themselves without having to share the spotlight.
Numerous brands on the schedule this season were celebrating anniversaries, successes and milestones, or were launching new labels altogether. Designer Teddy Ondo Ella debuted his namesake brand on Monday afternoon, and almost 24 hours later, Robert Geller debuted his new label Gustav von Aschenbach. Geller is also celebrating the 10th anniversary of his eponymous brand this year.
And in landmark occasions for their maturing design careers, the 2017-18 Woolmark US Prize competitors, Palmiers du Mal, Dyne, Death to Tennis, Kenneth Ning and N-p-Elliott, all presented this season, as well as 2016 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist Rochambeau, which also closed the week for the first time.
Still, the emerging and established designers shared the spotlight with Todd Snyder and with Raf Simons, who returned to NYFW: Men’s this season to show his namesake label’s spring 2018 collection. Simons held his runway show on Tuesday evening to a crowd that included buyers from the top retailers in the US such as Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys, and Saks. Also in attendance were celebrities such as Jake Gyllenhaal; Julianne Moore; A$AP Rocky and Ashton Sanders, and designers such as Marc Jacobs and Rochambeau’s Laurence Chandler - who, present for both Raf Simons shows in New York City, expressed his excitement for the show in an email.
Ovadia & Sons also held a star-studded show that had a front row comprised of NBA athlete Serge Ibaka, former New York Giants wide receiver Victor Cruz, Major Lazer DJ and producer Jillionaire, rappers Fabolous and Mack Wilds, model Sean O’Pry and NYFW: Men’s ambassadors Kelly Oubre of the Washington Wizards NBA team and rapper Young Paris.
Also, Rochambeau held an installation and party to end NYFW: Men’s with artist Yung Jake, who collaborated with the brand on the installation and a capsule collection, and rappers Smokepurrp, Smokey MarGielaa and SquidNice, who performed at the installation.
The fanfare and celebrity were reserved for these shows however, as the rest of the fashion presentations and runway shows on the schedule were attended solely by fashion industry professionals, evidence of the lack of excitement that many believe to be the problem with NYFW: Men’s. Some guests expressed disappointment in the lack of sponsors and smaller number of attendees this season, comparing the show to the women’s shows of the past, particularly at Lincoln Center, which was notably crowded every season.
The collections themselves have been a common gripe: brands in past seasons showed simple, sellable looks that were ready for market, but lacked exciting looks for runway. This season was a step in the right direction - most brands on the schedule showed directional collections with clear concepts. Suiting and tailoring were reserved for Nick Graham, which presented a colorful, nautical-themed collection, and EFM Engineered for Motion that continued the development of its active tailoring narrative.
While the two brands opted for traditional suits, Kenneth Ning and Luar, which showed at NYFW for the first time this season, deconstructed the suit to make new styles. Kenneth Ning reimagined blazers and shirts to make new cut-and-sew jackets, and even combined the two styles to make a new suit blazer, and Luar made dresses out of traditional men’s suits and coats.
Sanchez-Kane, a brand also new to the men’s week schedule, kept the avant-garde theme lively with an emotional collection inspired by designer Barbara Sanchez-Kane’s diary entries. The first look in the runway show featured a sky blue double-breasted blazer with dual lapels and wrist ties and was followed with a series of gender-fluid looks that included destroyed blazers and half-finished tops.
Sanchez-Kane was also one of many female designers to show during the week, as well as Feng Chen Wang and C2H4 Los Angeles, both new to the week, along with Deveaux and Bode.
Streetwear was reserved almost exclusively for the final day. C2H4 Los Angeles designer Yixi Chen created laboratory workwear for the future for spring 2018, and the result resembled a mashup of activewear and workwear. Hours prior, brother designers George and Mike Heaton presented the Represent spring 2018 collection that included hoodies, sweatshirts and shorts, oversized sweaters and parkas that drew inspiration from World War II propaganda posters by Winston Churchill.
This season of NYFW: Men’s proved that American menswear designers and talent showing in New York City are moving in the right direction. If this week was rated solely on the collections, it would be a success, but the excitement and rush that comes with a fashion week was undoubtedly missing and can’t be solved by a few ambassadors.
NYFW: Men’s had the potential to reach immediate success, but it was hindered by several designers exiting the week and runway shows and presentations suffering from the central location among other reasons. Still, NYFW: Men’s pushes forward despite its pitfalls, but there is some uncertainty with the week losing Skylight Clarkson Square.
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