From high voltage fashion courtesy of emerging designers to political demonstrations – here are the main talking points from the week’s shows
While New York Fashion Week: Men’s doesn’t garner as much attention as its women’s equivalent or, indeed, its London, Pitti, Milan and Paris counterparts, that’s not to say it’s uneventful. Sure, there were a lot of presentations that reinforced the stereotype of “safe” commercial American fashion, but there were also those that reflected New York’s new wave of emerging designers. Gypsy Sport and Devon Halfnight LeFlufy for example, showed that the city has got much more to it than its commercial reputation would have you believe. At a time of growing racial tension across the US, it’s perhaps unsurprising that politics entered the arena throughout the week – both on the catwalk and off. Here are five takeout from the week’s shows.
GYPSY SPORT’S GENDER-BENDING SPORTSWEAR
Gypsy Sport was a creative highpoint of the week’s shows. The brand has spent the last couple of seasons creating a genderless streetwear-high-fashion combo that designer Rio Uribe calls “sportswear for the New World”, which is inspired by his Harlem roots and global culture. This season saw a troupe of Instagram-cast models take to an AstroTurf catwalk, sporting acrylic wigs and soccer, football and basketball jerseys that were fringed with tassels and trimmed with lace – a combination that fused the hyper-masc with the hyper-femme, true to the brand’s gender-bending form.
ASSEMBLY NEW YORK’S CELEBRATION OF BLACK BEAUTY
Out of the four fashion capitals, New York is currently leading the way in terms of racial diversity on the catwalk. Assembly New York put on a celebration of non-white male beauty by enlisting a cast of all-black models for its show, all of whom had dreadlocks of different types, textures and lengths. “Unity is extremely important and we need to rethink how we integrate our culture together and unify,” designer Greg Armas said an interview with Mashable. “We really were looking for beautiful hair and we were lucky they also came with beautiful people.” While some of these models were agency-signed, others were street-cast at places like Home Depot. As stories of unarmed black men being killed by the police continue to hit the news and the #BlackLiveMatter movement remains a topic of national conversation, this display of diversity had a particular poignancy.
THE BLACK LIVES MATTER PROTEST
Assembly New York’s show wasn’t the only time the topic of race was broached throughout the week. Following the killings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, over a dozen people headed to Skylight Clarkson Square, the week’s main venue, to protest against police brutality against black men. “I work in the fashion industry and I noticed none of the designers cared about it,” said the group’s leader Hannah Stoudemire, who blogs and works for Lanvin, in an interview. “I’m the only black employee for a major house on Madison and everyone seems not to acknowledge what has happened. There’s no condolences. There’s nothing. When it comes to a matter of life or death, a dollar sign shouldn’t come into play.”
NEW LABEL LANDLORD’S DEBUT
The week also saw the launch of an exciting new label: Landlord, the brainchild of CSM grad Ryohei Kawanishi. Presenting a look that he described as “fashion queen” meets military, the designer riffed on different uniforms, playing with their proportions and, through means of hoodies and Nike Air Max 95 trainers, injecting a streetwear element into them. Kawanishi put on the show with an all-star team behind him that included Hood By Air stylist and Dazed contributing fashion editor Akeem Smith and 20-year-old casting prodigy Walter Pearce.
DEVON HALFNIGHT LEFLUFY’S INTERNET-SOURCED GRAPHICS
As well as potentially having the best name in the Western hemisphere, Devon Halfnight LeFlufy runs a self-titled label and, like Gypsy Sport and Landlord, attests to the creativity of New York’s emerging designers. Originally from Canada and a graduate of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, the LVMH Prize-nominated designer once again took inspiration from the web. While he’s known for his use of graphics, he restricted himself to eight this season, which included an airbrushed face, a dragon motif and the phrase “Selected Feelings” – an homage to alt-lit genius Tao Lin.