Y’all it’s fashion month! To be honest this was probably the last fashion feeling or compelling September I experienced since I work in the fashion industry. Never have things felt less catching and less real, but at the same time almost free and creative.
The questions that comes up is if it needs a global pandemic and the total disruption of a saturated system to allow sparks of newness in our fashion minds.
So, what is going on and who is shining in the new hyper-digital light of fashion weeks and order sheets online? Well, I got to be honest- the big major players feel almost stuck and unappealing. Sure, a Prada show is a Prada show but it feels much cooler to see what younger brands are showing around the globe for the fashion month- their messages and concepts feel more now, more urgent, and more in the spirit of the moment!
Let’s look at New York Fashion Week. The most magical city on earth has become a scenario of the most devastating effects of Covid-19 this year. The city full of brands, shops, creatives, and life was paused for months. Now, on top of this NYC is in the United States of America (duh?!) and America is going through one of the biggest civil rights movements they ever experienced, followed by an upcoming election in November 2020. You cannot separate those facts and movements from the creative industries or fashion business because that stuff has a straight-up impact on people working in fashion and being in the US. The question is what do brands do with that? How do designers, creative directors, the CFDA, or Fashion Weeks continue business as usual?!
First of all- they don’t! The CFDA put together the wonderful Runway360 platform as a representation of the NYFW and it’s great. The digital space allows brands to present collections from pre-recorded clips which reassemble a catwalk show, to artistic short moves or fun cyber worlds!
It is great to watch because it gives the viewer the feeling of endless creativity and I enjoy how not all brands are pushed into this cookie-cutter fashion show routine.
JONATHAN SIMKHAI creates an immediately shop-able collection, now and immediately available as the ‘now’ is something we have to commit to and amplify the message of social justice and environmental consciousness.
The anti-waste brand OFFICIAL REBRAND writes in their collection intro ‘We do not fit this system and, as we are seeing, this system does not fit the world. This collection is an attempt to dispel the exhaustion, embrace the convulsion, and forge new space within the chaos. It is also a celebration of fluidity, embracing circularity through material transformation, using up cycling as an ethical and responsible tactic of empowerment.’ Who would have thought that it is finally ok to embrace not fitting in? The honesty and rawness brands are using in recent times is something I love to witness, it feels like the fashion business finally went real.
You have to imagine that I am writing this article while sitting in a coffee shop in grey and rainy Berlin and well, the collection video Edvin Thompson released for his brand THEOPHILIO just made me happy! Edvin references his Jamaican roots in the SS21 MIGRATION collection and creates cool aesthetics of honesty, up-cycled fabrics, and that special NYC vibe.
Do you know what a ‘topsy-turvy doll’? I didn’t know…to quote APOTTS ‘a toy popularized in the American South. When flipped to one end, a Black doll dressed in fabrics symbolic of slavery and servitude appears while on the other end is a white doll, dressed finely. The doll, rather two dolls, represents a clear, but nuanced interpretation of racial dynamics disguised innocently; one must choose which side they would like to play with. The brand’s SS21 collection is inspired by the concept of flipping things upside down and inside out. Honestly, I am blown away by getting a history lesson when looking at fashion week content. Thank you!
STUDIO 189 – I love them! Awesome Awesome Awesome artisan brand, producing African and African- inspired items. Not in the slightest I am surprised that Rosario Dawson and Abrima Erwiah instead of showing a whole new collection, endorse us to enjoy their current collection and getting on board with the Fashion Our Future project. The multi-brand initiative was part of the official NYFW calendar with an IRL event to endorse the right to vote. Fashion activism is real!
If you want NYC sociopolitical fashion awesomeness COLLINA STRADA is the way to go! The brand has been conceptualizing great show experiences since seasons, and now created a virtual world of joy and inclusiveness. Watching the video is as much joy as you imagine, and I am so here for Hillary Taymour’s jumping dolphins, flashy prints, mindfully crafted items, and glittery reusable water bottles!
Maybe that is the new version of the ‘magic fashion world’ the dreams just changed from princess-like materialism to value-driven activism.
Researching for this article was fun. Somehow the way you can understand brands and aim to decode their creative visions is much easier and more approachable in a format like the CFDA 360runway. Sure, I focus on what you might call sustainable brands and by sustainable I do not only mean the materials brands are using and what environmental impact they leave. It is also about the social impact and what message brands send out there. Now, at this moment it feels like the shallowness of fashion could be over. The buying power is shifting to the hands of value-driven millennials and slowly creative forces are becoming diverse of all sorts.
With everything that is going on in 2020, it would have been pretty insane to have an NYFW without recognizing the struggle and change the country is going through. I hope that our business can be a stage, an amplifier, and a saver space for a bigger cause.
Maybe that is the new version of the ‘magic fashion world’ the dreams just changed from princess-like materialism to value-driven activism in nice shoes while listening to the amazing CHROMAT playlist.