Everything you need to know about New York’s latest menswear shows

The SS19 shows were a chance for the city’s new guard to prove themselves

If it wasn’t for fashion heavyweights such as Calvin Klein, Raf Simons and Hood By Air, you might be thinking that this season’s New York Fashion Week Men’s wasn’t one worth paying attention to – but that’s something the CFDA are keen to prove you wrong about. Instead, this season it invited the city’s newest, exciting names to show you exactly why they’re worth your time.

Neil Grotzinger’s Nihl – whose sequined take on sexuality earned him recognition as an LVMH Prize-nominee this year – and the forward-facing Reconstruct collective were some of the other emerging labels forging their own paths on the SS19 schedule, while former Fashion East MAN designer Feng Chen Wang presented her third collection since moving to New York. “It’s a really good chance for me to experience different cultures,” Wang explains. “Especially nowadays with everything being so international. It’s not just two cities that see my work, it’s one world.”

Off the schedule former Saint Laurent model David Friend showed the second instalment of his label Worstok – this time presenting a quietly political ode to his design and business partner’s birthplace of Colombia.

Here, we round-up some of the highlights from the SS19 NYFWM shows.


This season, Feng Chen Wang was looking at the idea of halves – people being two things at once. This manifested itself in spliced pieces from different parts of trousers or jackets, combined together in a Frankenstein-like way. Elsewhere, new Converse styles appeared – you got it – in different halves. “We all have different personalities, and the garments are the same. Halves are things that come together. Black and white, happy and sad, hot and cold,” Wang explains. Bringing a humorous element, some of the models took to the runway with actual handbags – bags made out of giant hands. “I used a lot of hands because this is a key element to explain this idea of halves,” the designer says was the reason. “It could be holding hands because you’re in love, or maybe fighting. It’s how we communicate.”



For designers Kirk Millar and Sam Linder – the design duo behind label Linder – SS19 was all about continuing to explore the narrative of a young gay man coming to terms with his sexuality. After ‘coming out’ via the previous collection, this time the Linder man was looking at relationships – be they platonic or romantic. “There are t-shirts and socks embroidered with ‘Boyfriend” in our handwriting, there’s a china pattern we found at a flea market that symbolises creating a home with somebody, and the jewellery that says ‘XO’ is signing off a letter.” If it wasn’t clear enough that there was romance behind the collection, the presentation amplified the message. Behind the podiums that models stood on – occasionally moving around, interacting with each other and weaving through the audience – a projection of inspirations, including collages of men and footage of gay anime lovers.



For Nigerian-born Taofeek Abijako, his heritage was the main source of inspiration for his SS19 collection, entitled Genesis. Exploring the idea of Afrofuturism, the collection opened with a slew of minimal, white cotton looks accessorised with head wraps. Later, colour was brought via striped shirting and slogan t-shirts that read ‘Genesis’ and “A Touch of Sin’. ”The collection celebrates the vibrancy of West African youth culture in the 70s and draws parallels to modern time,” Abijako explains. While visually, the show’s African inspiration was clear, it was also important for the designer to bring that via the soundtrack – a reading of the post-apartheid poem “A Song For Sowet” by June Jordan. “As an African, it's very important to speak about the current economic and political climate in Nigeria,” the designer explains of his choice. “Corruption is rampant and it's important to highlight the root of it, but at the same time celebrate the resilience of my people.”



If there was a prize for biggest NYFWM production, Jahnkoy would win hands down. Staging a fashion show cum art performance, it featured cheerleaders, tribal dancers, soldiers (her ‘Jah-army’ she says) and breakdancing frat boys. Designed by Russian-born Maria Kazakova – who now goes as Jahnkoy herself – she said that the collection wasn’t appropriation, but appreciation. “My work is restoration of global tradition, craftsmanship, and heritage as it has been lost,” Jahnkoy explains. Splitting the collection into three groups (city workers, messengers, and the lost culture) the looks were mostly made up of embellished, Cyrillic slogan-covered sportswear courtesy of Puma. The mash-up of art, fashion, and performance was underpinned with a strong political undertone – there was a statement on gun violence in America also shoehorned in – all related to the idea of culture bringing us together. “Culture to me is an ancient knowledge that I want to keep learning. It also means unity, because when people understand the core of your upbringing you can come together.”



Kenneth Nicholson’s latest collection originally started out as a story he wrote, later returning to create it in clothing form. Separated into three sections, he wanted to bring emotion via a limited colour palette – mostly white, black, and beige. “Black bodies are often typecast into one thing, so I wanted to show the black figure in a range of emotions, and not just limited to one,” Nicholson says. Elsewhere, a feminine aspect was brought with lace, and embellishment. The last funereal section featured all-black looks – a tribute to London-born model Harry Uzoka who was tragically murdered at the beginning of this year. The last model carried a crown on a velvet pillow as a mark of respect to him, later revealed to be the crown worn by Uzoka at his last photoshoot for the designer. “I just wanted to honour him in the most authentic way that I could.”



Unlike the previous labels, Public School – designed by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne – used to be a mainstay on New York’s fashion schedule, up until the pair took a hiatus following their SS18 collection. With little announcement, Public School returned to present its latest collection in a darkened gravel-filled space – later revealed to be the location of the label’s new store. “It’s us looking at our past to know our future,” the duo told us. “It was a good way for us to plant the foundation that this is our new home, and this will be the collection here when the store opens.” Looking back at the label’s roots, the utilitarian collection saw archive looks reworked sustainably using deadstock materials from the likes of Levi’s and Alpha Industries. “It’s the idea of breathing life into dead clothes, so it has a soul and has a feeling again,” the duo says. “When you think about pollution and how fashion is such a contributor to all of this, it’s a lot.” Moving forward, it isn’t clear whether the brand will be returning to the show schedule. What’s next? “There’s more things,” the pair say ominously. Watch this space.