The Disappearing Act: Designers Depart from NYFW
If last season’s prevalent conversation was surrounding the implications within the political arena and where brands stood, then the Spring/Summer 2018 chit chat is certainly focused on, "where did everyone go?" And although by "everyone" I don't actually mean 'everyone,' there are plenty of noteworthy absentees: Yeezy, rag & bone, Lacoste, Rodarte, Proenza Schouler, and yes, the list continues; Thom Browne, Tommy Hilfiger, Monique Lhuillier, and Joseph Altuzarra. While we know where some of them are going (hint: it’s Paris and London), others have quietly disappeared off the schedule without much buzz or press.
PROENZA SCHOULER's Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez in Paris for their Spring/Summer 2018 ready-to-wear show. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
It was earlier this year when Rodarte and Proenza Schouler led the pack with their New York exodus, and it’s hard to tell if others followed suit – "not to miss that train" as they say – or if there is in fact doubt surrounding New York's ability to nurture more creative or directional brands. Rodarte is not trying to be a commercial label so perhaps heading to Paris to be surrounded by more likeminded designers is a smart move, or at the very least a fitting one. Either way, the gaps in the schedule have left many insiders feeling a little flat and uninspired this season.
For some editors and buyers, Thom Browne is the most exciting (and perhaps progressive) show of the week. Few, if any, spectators have left his shows feeling indifference, and I personally feel at a loss for not being able to witness the magical whimsy this round. Let's be clear, Paris – you got really lucky.
Considering all the fuss and buzz his shows are generally known for, there hasn’t been much of either when it comes to what Kanye West is doing for Yeezy season 6. While there are rumors that he hasn’t canceled his NYFW show because he never committed to it in the first place, others are reporting that West is opting for an off-the-calendar presentation. As you can tell, however, it’s all still very unclear, although it seems to concern more his followers than it does fashion editors.
FELIPE OLIVEIRA BAPTISTA’s Spring/Summer 2017 ready-to-wear show for LACOSTE in New York. LACOSTE's upcoming Spring/Summer 2018 collection will be showcased in Paris. Photo by Guillaume Roujas for NOWFASHION.
Rag & bone didn’t just ditch NYFW but ditched the concept of a physical show or presentation altogether, which in a time like this is quite admirable. The New York-based brand made a bold move by investing the money that would’ve gone to a show towards a more philanthropic endeavor.
“For a while now I (along with what seems to be a lot of people!) have been questioning the effectiveness of the traditional fashion system, particularly for rag & bone. Coupled with everything that’s going on in the world today, it felt somewhat tone deaf to do a runway show or throw a huge event. So while we are huge believers in NYFW, and in many ways have it to thank for so much, we are opting out of being on the calendar this season and instead are doing something that we feel is more relevant, impactful, and meaningful," Marcus Wainwright, CEO and Creative Director of rag & bone, said in a statement.
In a resourceful manner, rag & bone cast the usual spread of semi-famous faces, collaborators, and friends in a selfie photo project that would result in a lookbook. Each subject was able to choose a charity of their choice, with rag & bone ultimately sending money off to nonprofits such as Lupus Foundation of America, Earthjustice, and Open Door Foundation. “Last season we focused on individuality, allowing friends of the brand to style themselves in the new collection. For our Spring season, we wanted to explore individual perspective as we feel that it is a relevant topic, both for our brand and in the context of all that is happening socially and politically around the world," said Wainwright.
TOMMY HILFIGER and GIGI HADID in Los Angeles for their Spring/Summer 2017 see-now-buy-now show. Photo courtesy of PR.
Even though Tommy Hilfiger already departed New York in February (for the sunnier, more inviting landscape in Los Angeles), this season the iconic American designer leaves the US altogether. Taking to London to celebrate their third collaboration with model – and co-designer – Gigi Hadid, the brand seems to be one of the few winning from the move to a see-now-buy-now strategy and will close out LFW with a bang (and a buck!) no doubt. During the show, the duo will launch their own tour merchandise they've been working on which will be available for purchase directly after the show.
Los Angeles-based, but NYFW staple, Monique Lhuillier made a more strategic decision to align her Spring 2018 collection with the couture shows in Paris this season. In a bid to capture the attention of audiences outside the US, this move makes sense for the designer to attract the likes of European, Asian, and Middle Eastern markets. Alongside the move, Lhullier decided to consolidate her resort and spring collections into one wider and more in-depth range.
For the moment, all these departures have NYFW feeling flustered and confused, but once the dust settles and designers find the city that works for them, then I'm sure the upcoming season’s conversation will rotate onto the next issue du jour. In the meantime, maybe it’s time for new designers to step forward and fill in the gaps.