Another New York Fashion Week has come to a close, and with its finale comes several indications of what to expect from designers in the coming months.
New York continued to navigate ongoing changes to the industry: Several designers ditched New York in favor of Los Angeles, while others offered consumers immediate gratification with more see-now-buy-now options. In addition, the week unfolded to the backdrop of a tumultuous political climate, which led several brands and fashion week goers to make pointed statements with bold statement T-shirts or runway proclamations.
Below are some of our major takeaways from the week:
The runway went rogue.
If there was one major unifying theme for New York Fashion Week, it was fashion activism. The CFDA kicked off the effort, encouraging designers, models and industry members to wear pink-hued pins that read “Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood” to make a statement against threats to defund the organization under President Donald Trump’s administration.
The theme continued on the catwalk, where several designers clad models in bold statement T-shirts, pointed commentary against President Trump. Christian Siriano featured a model wearing a shirt that read “People Are People” and Public School had a series of “Make America New York” garments, while Jonathan Simkhai gave guests “Feminist AF” shirts as favors. Prabal Gurung took it to the next level, concluding his show with a smattering of statement shirts featuring messages like “Revolution Has No Borders” and “I Am An Immigrant.”
Some demonstrations were more subtle. The Calvin Klein closed with David Bowie’s “This Is Not America,” and the theme of Milly’s show was “Fractured,” a response to the state of American politics. Mara Hoffman started her show with a discussion from the founders of the Women’s March on Washington. And then, of course, there were the fashion influencers. Aimee Song and Bryanboy came out en masse in statement apparel.
New York is trying to redefine its identity.
This season, several designers, including Tommy Hilfiger, Rebecca Minkoff, Rachel Zoe and Rachel Comey, took their talents to the West Coast, opting to show their designs at L.A. Fashion Week. The designers cited several reasons for the transition — Tommy Hilfiger wanted to appeal to consumers rather than critics, and Rebecca Minkoff is opening an L.A-based store — but the result was a series of fractured shows across the coasts. Though industry insiders don’t anticipate any true threats to New York Fashion Week, the shifts have been confusing.
Meanwhile, in New York, designers continued to shake things up, though they weren’t always successful. German designer Philipp Plein decided to move his show from Milan to New York with an Americana-themed show. According to the New York Times fashion critic Vanessa Friedman, the designer had “seemingly no sense of how tone-deaf the whole display was — from bustiers to thigh-high boots, from fire-and-brimstone embroidery to NASA puffer coats.” Following a series of politically charged shows, it felt particularly out of place.
On social, Instagram still reigns supreme.
The aspirational nature of Instagram has always been particularly congruous to the fashion realm, and this fashion week was no exception. With new tools at their disposal, like Instagram Live which was rolled out in December 2016, designers experimented with new ways to show off their shows and behind-the-scenes looks at fashion week. Designers like Thakoon, Calvin Klein, Christian Siriano and Tibi took to Instagram to share glimpses of the backstage scene and their runway models.
Much like Snapchat and Facebook Live, Instagram Live allows an unfiltered look into the inner working of a fashion house without the cost and resources required to produce meticulous photos. The added benefit is that it engages a unique demographic of users, using a brand’s built-in Instagram follower base. “At first, I was like, ‘Oh, I don’t know–what’s the point?’” Eva Chen, head of fashion partnerships at Instagram, told Glossy last week regarding Live. “But then, once I started doing it, I saw so much value to it. The moment you press ‘end video,’ it goes away forever — it really takes the pressure off.”
Calvin Klein was the most buzzed-about show.
Raf Simons’ first show for Calvin Klein was among the most anticipated shows at New York Fashion Week, and social media took note. According to data from Brandwatch, Calvin Klein was responsible for 23 percent of all fashion week–related mentions as of February 15, with more than 15,700 posts. Jeremy Scott took 17 percent of the conversation, while Coach (14 percent), Christian Siriano (8 percent) and Prabal Gurung (8 percent) rounded out the top five most buzzed about designers. In total, at the end of the event, New York Fashion Week had more than 357,000 mentions across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
Brands are still prioritizing see-now-buy-now.
The ever-changing fashion calendar and shifts to how consumers make purchases has continued to keep designers on their toes, as many make the push to in-season offerings. Ralph Lauren debuted its second see-now-buy-now show at the brand’s store in Upper Manhattan — it featured appearances by Bella Hadid and Kendall Jenner. A fan of see-now-buy-now, Rebecca Minkoff showed shoppable spring looks at her L.A. show, a departure from the fall and winter looks shown by most designers (and indicative of ongoing calendar confusion.)
Now even publishers are getting involved. Fashion and shopping site Who What Wear hosted its first runway show this season, showing editor-curated looks from a number of brands that were all immediately shoppable on the site. Attendees were given iPads at the show to browse the looks, in a partnership with Shopbop.