- Don-Alvin Adegeest |
As New York Fashion Week has drawn to a close, the first of the four major fashion weeks, it has been lauded for being one of the most interesting calendars in recent seasons.
But somehow this editor cannot share the excitement over New York fashion week, despite highlights such as Givenchy's transatlantic outing, Yeezy's media frenzy or regular stalwarts like Ralph Lauren and Marc Jacobs.
New York Fashion Week, on the whole, is a conglomeration of business brands, showing commercially infused collections which, frankly put, are not per se runway worthy. They certainly wouldn't cut the mustard in other fashion cities, to use a popular Americanism.
A schedule at bursting level where commercial rules
What was once reserved for craftsmanship brands, for couture, for handiwork that required both design in its DNA and consideration in execution (for example beautiful fabrics), are now sub-fundamental elements that appear to be largely absent from the majority of the New York shows. The calendar is now at bursting level - how many shows do we need to see? - that the garments themselves almost seem secondary. As long as a designer manages to secure an official slot, have a front row with camera friendly celebrities, the collections will somehow seem passable and saleable. Because the latter is all that really matters.
If you remove the artifice of being on the catwalk and strip these collections to their purest essence, to the core of their design, revealing the heart of its brand, we are left with but a trifle of what was once considered credible runway fashion. Laden with simple dressmakers, even simpler t-shirt brands, mediocre collections for mid-range department stores, the NYC catwalks have it all in spades. Why? Because commercial value is the formula that determines success, removing any impetus for creating clothes that may not sell, that have an ideology, or a vision that cannot be extrapolated in a press release. Long gone are the clothes that can tell the stories themselves.
Do we need see to another t-shirt or simple dress on the catwalkThe success of brands such as Juicy Couture, Rebecca Taylor and Tory Burch are all laudable for their commercial prowess and stockholder value and should duly not be undermined. But do we need to see a tracksuit modelled on the runway? A pretty dress so simple you can't tell the difference if it was from Walmart or Wang? A look styled together that has been re-hashed a million times over? Is this what runway fashion has been reduced to in this era?
We are living in the free world, a world of endless possibilities, of success and power and commercial prowess that comes from building international volume fashion businesses. Where selling inexpensive and quickly produced garments with little or no soul is de rigeur. Of course New York Fashion Week is a reflection of its home market, and can't be compared to Paris or Milan, but how much can you dilute a product before it's original flavour has all but disappeared?
There is nothing inherently wrong with brands focusing on the end goal of commercial success, this is an industry after all, and success of any form should be celebrated. But for those brands who remove creativity from the fashion equation for the sake of profitability, let's not flood the catwalk with collections that are so commercial to the point of being dull. Raising the bar to be on the official NYFW schedule will only propel designers forward, create better collections, to think beyond the commercial.
For the same reason that the Cannes Film Festival doesn't show your average screwball comedy, or that Fifty Shades of Grey will never earn a reputable literary prize, there's no reason to show every simple fashion brand on the runway. Sometimes integrity and consideration should win over commercial value, even if just that one week in a season.