These Designers Are Making Their New York Fashion Week Debuts in the Middle of a Pandemic
It probably goes without saying that we're heading into an unprecedented New York Fashion Week season. Despite the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has created for many...
It probably goes without saying that we're heading into an unprecedented New York Fashion Week season.
Despite the challenges the Covid-19 pandemic has created for many in the fashion industry, the biannual event is still happening, albeit with an abbreviated schedule, different formats and without many of New York's most prominent designer names.Perhaps that's all the better for several newcomers to the scene.
As with any other season, a dozen or so designers will be participating in NYFW for the first time ever this week. Most will show digitally, via either the CFDA's or IMG's platforms. But why now?
To some up-and-coming names, showing during NYFW still feels like an important way to get in front of an international audience — even if there isn't technically a physical audience at all.
"Having the opportunity to show our collection during New York Fashion Week as a CFDA-selected designer is a dream come true for us," says Najla Burt, co-founder (alongside her mom!) of womenswear brand Dur Doux. "New York Fashion Week gives us global exposure. New York remains a major fashion hub and provides a foundation for future interest in the international market, which we hope to see the brand move toward as we grow."
Photo: Courtesy of Dur Doux
For some, this season also presents an opportunity that may not have presented itself otherwise. Dur Doux had applied to be on the CFDA calendar three times in a row, and was denied each time; this season marks its first acceptance.
"This is a really exciting time to be a part of fashion right now," adds Burt. "Although New York Fashion Week will look completely different than it has looked in the past, I think it pushes designers to be more creative and innovative in the way they present."
Brian Wolk and Claude Morais of Los Angeles-based label Wolk Morais say the brand probably wouldn't have participated in NYFW were it not for the pandemic.
"When the CFDA approached us to show on Runway360, we were thrilled to be able to present our new work in an environmentally sustainable way on this dynamic new platform," the designers said in a joint statement to Fashionista. "We thought there was no better time to re-think the way people experience fashion." In lieu of a show, Wolk Morais will be unveiling a short film created in collaboration with cinematographer/photographer Fiorella Occhipinti and stylist Elizabeth Stewart.
Photo: Courtesy of Wolk Morais
They aren't the only ones who see this unique moment as an opportunity rather than a challenge or disadvantage. Miko Underwood, founder of Harlem, NY-based sustainable denim brand Oak & Acorn, went so far as to say she feels this is "divine timing."
Underwood started her brand out of a desire to pay homage to the Black community's contributions to American denim creation. "This moment is a perfect opportunity to bring global awareness to the history of denim," she says. These newcomers also bring welcome diversity to the NYFW roster: Of the 22 brands making their debuts, eight are Black-owned.
Photo: Courtesy of Venice W
Venice Wanakornkul of the brand Venice W says that, in a way, being a newcomer is an advantage because she doesn't have to overhaul any sort of previously established or prescribed way of doing things. "As a new brand, this unusual situation is more of an open picture for us to choose how we want to do things from the start rather than making a change," she says.
Patricia Bonaldi of PatBo will be moving ahead with a digital show ,but is excited for the eventual return of in-person ones. "While I value the opportunity to show editors, buyers and the industry my collections in person, the health and safety of our community and those around us is much more important," she tells us. "I believe that once it is safe to travel again, Fashion Week all around the world will be that much more special and we will celebrate surviving this pandemic as an industry, together."
Read on to learn a bit more about each of the designers making their NYFW debuts this week.
Florida-born, Parsons-educated Najla Burt launched Dur Doux, a luxury womenswear brand, in 2014. Her mother, Cynthia Burt, inspired her love of design and is now vice president and co-designer of the business. Dur Doux will introduce a Spring 2021 womenswear collection digitally on Monday, Sept. 14 at 4:00 p.m. EST under the CFDA.
Colleen Allen will introduce a new collection digitally on Monday, Sept. 14 at 2:30 p.m. EST under the CFDA.
Davidson Petit-Frère launched his namesake line of men's suiting in 2013 and has since dressed a slew of celebrities including Jay Z, Diddy, Michael B. Jordan and more. At NYFW, he will be debuting womenswear for the first time. Frère will introduce a Spring 2021 womenswear collection digitally on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 5:30 p.m under the CFDA.
Oak & Acorn
Miko Underwood, a self-described "denim historian," launched Oak & Acorn, a "genderless luxury heritage brand that pays homage to the untold history of the Indigenous American and enslaved African's contributions to the origins of American Denim & American manufacturing." Oak & Acorn will introduce a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 4:30 p.m under the CFDA.
Jamaican-born, Brooklyn-based Edvin Thompson launched Theophilio in 2016. The contemporary, genderless line takes inspiration from nostalgia and NYC culture and uses upcycled materials. Theophilio will introduce a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 3:30 p.m under the CFDA.
Venice Wanakornkul launched her namesake line with her Parsons MFA graduate collection in 2018, which include pieces made from paper. The brand sort of defies categorization: The designer describes it as "an apple that grows from the tree of mundane life, watered by laziness, fertilized by time, and harvested by Venice Wanakornkul." VeniceW will introduce a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Tuesday, Sept. 15 at 8:00 p.m under the CFDA.
Los Angeles-based Brian Wolk and Claude Morais will be debuting their ninth Wolk Morais collection with a short film entitled "Driven." Wolk Morais will introduce a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Monday, Sept. 14 at 1:30 p.m under the CFDA.
Having typically shown in Paris, Faith Connexion is a womenswear and menswear brand comprised of a design collective that pulls influences from art and street culture. The brand just announced the appointment of Alexandre Bertrand and Myriam Bensaid as its first-ever creative leading duo, who will lead a transformation of the brand. Faith Connexion will introduce a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 9:30 a.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
Lavie by CK
Lavie by CK, which stands for designer Claude Kameni, is a Black-owned, L.A.-based womenswear line that has recently gained momentum, having been worn by celebrities like Tracee Ellis Ross and Viola Davis. Lavie by CK will present a new collection digitally on Sept. 15 at 7:00 p.m. via IMG's NYFW platform.
Brazil-based Patricia Bonaldi's namesake womenswear line is focused on intricate, hand-beaded dresses now sold everywhere from Net-a-Porter to Intermix, and frequently seen on the red carpet. PatBo will present a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 via IMG's NYFW platform.
Canada-based Jordan Stewart launched RVNG, her luxury womenswear line, in 2019 at Toronto Fashion Week. RVNG Couture will present a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Sunday, Sept. 13 at 7:00 p.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
Tiffany Brown Designs
Atlanta native Tiffany Brown had a career in public policy before launching her namesake clothing line in 2008; she also still owns a government consulting business. Tiffany Brown Designs will present a new collection digitally via IMG's NYFW platform.
Amen is an on-trend womenswear brand making glitzy going-out looks, owned by Italian textiles firm Jato. The brand will present a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Thursday, Sept. 17 at 10:30 a.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
Consinee Group is a Chinese textile company known as the country's largest exporter of cashmere yarn. It will present its latest products digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 9:00 a.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
Macgraw is a feminine, whimsical Australian womenswear label launched in 2012 by Beth and Tessa Macgraw and is sold by retailers like Shopbop and Moda Operandi. It presented a new collection digitally on Sunday, Sept. 13 via IMG's NYFW platform.
Maisie Schloss, an alumnus of Parsons and the Yeezy brand, launched this L.A.-based label last year and has already gotten lots of buzz and strong retail partners, like Net-a-Porter, Ssense and The Webster. The brand will debut a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Monday, Sept. 14 at 3:00 p.m. EST via both IMG's and the CFDA's NYFW platforms.
Mr. Saturday is a streetwear brand founded in Toronto by Joey Gollish that takes inspiration from music and nightlife culture and creates capsule collections with charitable components. The brand will show a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 3:00 p.m. via both IMG's and the CFDA's NYFW platforms.
Senlis is a year-old brand of affordable floral dresses with a store in West Hollywood, inspired by the French town of the same name. Senlis will present digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 4:00 p.m. via IMG's NYFW platform.
StayMe70 is a merch line that Carmelo Anthony launched in June to give back to the Black community, donating 100% of profits to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund. The brand will present a new collection digitally on Monday, Sept. 14 at 7:00 p.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
Who Decides War
Who Decides War is a streetwear-leaning line founded by Ev Bravado that has previously shown in Paris. It will unveil a Spring 2021 collection digitally on Wednesday, Sept. 16 at 11:30 a.m. EST via IMG's NYFW platform.
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