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With headlining acts gone, more independent designers can shine at New York Fashion Week

By Kristopher Fraser


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Image: Ned & Aya

New York Fashion Week has already survived several days of shows and presentations, but the consensus among longtime attendees of the event is that without the headlining acts like Tom Ford, Ralph Lauren, and Tommy Hilfiger on the calendar, the energy of the event is different. Sure, there are still some household-name acts, like Michael Kors and Christian Siriano, on the calendar, but there’s a reduction in the international press, buyers, stylists, and influencers. Be that as it may, the one advantage this has is that independent designers have a bigger chance to shine.

It's the moment for independent designers at New York Fashion Week

At the time of this article, New York Fashion Week has already seen rising stars, like Christian Cowan and Maisie Wilen, showcase. Reputable brands, like Jason Wu, PatBo, and Brandon Maxwell, held their runway shows on Saturday as well to the fanfare of audiences and celebrity attendees. With more curated guest lists in light of COVID-19, the select list of guests were happy to be in attendance, and people were happy that after fears of the Omicron variant, New York Fashion Week was able to continue.

There was concern that with New York Fashion Week aligning at the same time as Superbowl Weekend, there would be difficulty in attracting celebrity crowds, but the likes of socialites Olivia Palermo and Nicky Hilton front row at New York Fashion Week shows provided the celebrity flare that was needed.

The headlining acts are usually key to bringing in the big-name editors at international editions of top fashion magazines, but brands homegrown in New York are still finding their footing with the American crowd. Saint Sintra, an emerging brand by designer Sintra Martins, managed to draw a full house of attendees and impressed the audience with her romantic, ethereal designs fit for women of all body types.

New York Men’s Day provided its usual spotlight to emerging menswear talent, including newcomers to the event Nicholas Raefski, The Academy New York, Atelier Cillian, and Clara Son. The grand spectacle that New York Fashion Week had become for social media was reduced to its former origins of being primarily a tradeshow for fashion industry professionals to see what the latest would be for the fashion industry come the next season.

Sure, there’s the reason for nostalgia for the New York Fashion Week of pre-COVID-19 with huge audiences, shows on the hour back-to-back from morning till nightfall, and press appointments back to back, but perhaps a more subdued New York Fashion Week isn’t a bad thing. Independent designers have a chance to stand out from the crowd.

Image: Fernanda Calfat
New York Fashion Week