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What to look out for at New York Fashion Week AW23

By Rachel Douglass


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From February 10 to 15, the fashion industry will be turning its eyes to New York for the city’s AW23 fashion week season. The Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) unveiled its preliminary schedule for New York Fashion Week (NYFW) earlier this month, boasting a line up of 74 runway shows and presentations over the course of five days.

FashionUnited has highlighted some of the top events to look forward to in the weeks to come, including notable returnees, anticipated debuts and some out-of-the-box additions.

Big names snatch spotlight

While there are an abundance of emerging brands featured on this season’s NYFW schedule, the presence of the event’s signature designers could not be ignored, and with current shifts rocking parts of the industry it will be fascinating to see what form their collections will take. For one, Versace’s former interim head Cedric Wilmotte returned to Michael Kors as CEO last week, with the goal of executing a strategic vision and driving growth. Kors welcomed Wilmotte’s return, stating that he was looking forward to growing the company globally alongside him. Last season, the designer elevated codes of the past in a collection consisting of streamline resort wear and relaxed tailoring. The NYFW regular will be hosting his runway on February 15, at 11am.

Other brands that have set about on expansions are that of Gabriela Hearst and Coach, the latter of which will be attempting to boost sales as part of its parent company Tapestry’s goal of achieving revenue of eight billion dollars by fiscal year 2025. To drive engagement, the brand relied on the presence of its new brand ambassador Lil Nas X to close the show for SS23 – a possible tactic that could come round again this season. Additionally, Gabriela Hearst was among a number of brands to open a store last year in South Korea, a region named as the biggest spender in luxury goods, according to Morgan Stanley. It brings to question whether Hearst will be considering this fresh new market in her approach to the upcoming collection. Coach will present on February 13 at 2pm, while Hearst is scheduled the following day at 12pm.

Thom Browne SS23, Catwalkpictures

Meanwhile, a notable return to the schedule is that of Thom Browne, CFDA’s newly appointed chairman. The brand showed in Paris for SS23, with a womenswear collection that took to the runway in his signature theatrical fashion. His return is not the only reason all eyes will be on the American designer though. Browne recently won a trademark infringement case against sportswear giant Adidas, which had accused him of imitating its three-stripe mark. The now-settled tiff drew plenty of attention and led many to be curious about what Browne will be presenting on the runway — possibly more stripes?

Seven debuts welcomed to runway

However, it's not all about the big names this season. Emerging designers and runway debuts also make up much of the line up, with in-person activations all round. Heron Preston is among those, presenting at the New York event for the first time after showing at Paris Fashion Week back in 2017. Preston is expected to show a collection reflective of the city, which also happens to be his hometown, alongside a new iteration of 3D-printed sneakers made in collaboration with Zellerfeld, WWD reported.

Recent graduate Kate Barton is also a new name on the schedule, joining the round up just months after she launched her e-commerce site. After receiving awards such as the CFDA’s Top Fashion Future Graduate and the Red Dot Award, eyes will be on her, her namesake label and her approach to “sustainable” yet technologically elevated evening wear. Other debuts include Nayon, Zimo, Ayama Studio and Kolston.

Pop-ups, emerging creatives and workshops at NYFW: The Shows

IMG and Afterpay have come together again to organise and operate NYFW: The Shows, with a slate of programming and events running alongside the NYFW schedule. To kick it all off, the occasion will celebrate NYFW returnee Rodarte with an afterparty to celebrate the autumn 2023 collection of designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy, which will be shown during a runway on the first day at 4pm. The following day, IMG model Ella Emhoff will host a pop-up at Spring Studios where she will preview her handmade knitwear.

Image: Rodarte via Catwalkpictures

The Black in Fashion Council Discovery Showrooms will also be returning for its sixth season, featuring the likes of Cise, Diotima, Ella Lisque and Jeofroi, among others, to support its mission of offering visibility to Black designers. Meanwhile, next generation designers will further be backed through RunwayX by Afterpay, a new space showcasing creatives representing the future of fashion. From February 11, the location will host two runway shows daily, with a range of participants such as Private Policy, Aknvas and KGL. Additionally at Spring Studios, February 13 will be home to NYFW: The Talks, following the theme ‘Future of Fashion’ where a panel will discuss fashion technology and innovation.

Outside the calendar: Black-owned brands and digital fashion

However, the official calendar doesn’t hold everything there is to watch out for during the week. Awet New York is set to unveil its first Black-owned brand showroom, for example, where over the course of the week a curated group of brands from the city will showcase their collections. During the period, participating brands will have access to the space at no cost. Speaking to WWD, Awet Woldegebriel, founder and creative director of the space, said the showroom’s goal was to dismantle the barriers preventing Black-owned brands from being discovered. He added: “Our goal is to give designers the chance to focus on what matters most, creativity, art and scaling their business.”

Meanwhile, online, Digital Fashion Week NY will be returning to offer a metaverse take on the event. From February 9 to 11, both physical and digital occasions will take place, each designed to offer insights, vision and strategies for adapting to a digital future. Among the schedule is a Networking and Speaker Summit, a Metaverse Fashion Experience, an animation screening and a phygital fashion show, featuring a selection of designers presenting both physical creations alongside augmented reality (AR) designs.