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Is New York stuck in a fashion rut?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest


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Fashion |Opinion

Ralph Lauren S24 050 Credits: Spotlight Launchmetrics

New York, the bustling metropolis renowned for its iconic skyline, diverse culture, and non-stop energy, is stuck in a fashion rut.

The city’s fashion scene has been criticised for lacking innovation and fresh creativity in recent times. Some observers argue that the city's fashion industry has become somewhat stagnant, with established designers often sticking to tried-and-true formulas rather than pushing the boundaries of design.

New York Fashion Week, once a global trendsetter, has seemingly lost some of its cutting-edge allure. Emerging designers now encounter daunting challenges trying to make a mark in a saturated and fiercely competitive and commercial market.

One emerging brand stood out, although not necessarily for its collection.

Fashion on the roof

On Monday, designer Shao Yang unveiled her brand, Shao, atop the rooftop of Anna Delvey's apartment. Notably, Ms. Delvey, the infamous con artist-fashionista immortalized in the Netflix series portrayed by Julia Garner, co-hosted the event. The rooftop of her six-flight walk-up was transformed into a makeshift catwalk, an idea that originated with PR maven Kelly Cutrone. Models had to have hair and makeup done in a parked bus nearby, as the limited space allowed for no traditional backstage area. Ms. Yang, a Parsons graduate and the visionary behind 9 year-old brand The Tailory New York, could be considered an expert in mixing fine tailoring with contemporary streetwear elements. She also knows how to leverage good publicity.

The event generated extraordinary buzz, the kind that budding designers yearn for when launching their collections. Meanwhile, other established brands, despite their well-oiled marketing machines, tried to achieve a similar splash, but fell flat in comparison.

Notably, Tory Burch's celebrity-heavy show seemed to place greater emphasis on the front row spectacle than the collection, with a press release shouting every CELEBRITY in attendance in all caps in the email subject. The release also listed the outfits worn by the stars. So far so yawn.

It iterates that the concept of front-row fashion has become inextricably boring, especially among commercially savvy brands armed with colossal budgets for their endorsements, which often overshadow the clothing itself. Most of the looks end up being quickly forgotten after the show.

When a designer turns to celebrities for buzz it can lead to a more superficial experience that removes the emphasis on the clothes and craftsmanship. Because, as everyone knows, celebrities are paid to attend, and it gives the perception that it's more about business than artistry. It begs the question, if brands have these enormous production budgets available, why not produce something that mesmerizes and innovates instead?

At Ralph Lauren, the timeless allure of equestrian chic once again took center stage. Transforming the Brooklyn Navy Yard into a Colorado cabin, Mr. Lauren transported guests to his signature realm, where nostalgia harmonises with Americana dreams and a dash of old-world English opulence. Even amidst a star-studded audience that included Julianne Moore, Jennifer Lopez, and Diane Keaton, Mr Lauren intrinsically knows things only get better with age. Celebrity caps not needed.

New York Fashion Week
Ralph Lauren
Shao Yang
Tory Burch