Fashion Week, for an editor, is really an overwhelming affair. For one, the schedule is ever changing, so it's almost impossible to draft up a concrete itinerary (heads up to all you OCD planners out there). Secondly, the sheer quantity of designers showing their respective collections all at once makes it nearly impossible to attend every show, so the selection process can be quite daunting.
The SS17 fashion month recently kicked off in the Big Apple, where industry folk flooded the city's streets to soak up all the sartorial happenings taking place at breakneck speed. While we did our best to hit up as many shows as we could, some shows unfortunately didn't make the cut (time travel sadly doesn't exist yet).
The latest installment of our ongoing Under the Radar series spotlights five burgeoning designers whose collections generated a sizable amount of buzz at New York Fashion Week this season. From jaw-dropping Korean eyewear to Berlin sex club Tumblr gear, stay ahead of the game by getting to know these brands before they become huge.
If your label wants to be considered for future posts then, by all means, get in touch.
Designers Nan Li and Emilia Pfohl's namesake brand, Namilia, actually made its NYFW debut a year ago in VFILES' SS16 multi-label showcase. Since then, the Berlin-based brand's erotically-charged, pop culture-induced "couture merch" pieces have become something of favorite in the underground fashion and art communities (no wonder VFILES was so eager to scoop them up).
But the buzz behind the brand has seemingly seeped its way into the mainstream in recent times, including none other than Kanye West (Li recently worked as a freelance designer on YEEZY Season 4). 'Ye affiliation aside, Namilia also managed to land its first major solo show in New York this season, where it stimulated attendees' retinas with an onslaught of humorously graphic, BDSM-tinged designs.
Gimp masks, harnesses, leather crowns and pope-like stoles were styled with denim underwear, side-slit dresses stitched with thick, white lace and vibrant red PVC trench coats. Patchwork illustrations of Justin Bieber and Zayn Malik were made to look like prayer cards, while slogans like "Take Down Trump" (along with other Trump-bashing phrases) were peppered in left and right.
“We took the objectification of women and flipped it to turn the boys of the moment into sexual play things,” Li told W. “We were really interested in the power of fandom. We wanted to harness that energy and turn it into a girl gang collection. So, we took took all their power away by turning these boys into decorations.”
Quirky Korean label Gentle Monster has been killing it in the eyewear game lately. A go-to facial ornament for countless K-Pop superstars (unsurprising given its penchant for outré silhouettes and kaleidoscopic colorways), the brand's recent collaborations with Opening Ceremony and Hood By Air have placed it on the radar of fashionistas and celebs well beyond its Land of the Morning Calm homestead (including us).
For its NYFW debut, GM unveiled its SS17 collection via a choreographed performance by professional Olympic fencers, who donned various frames from the line while swatting swords on a neon blue-lit runway space cut in half with a mirrored wall. “We work to show the world that we are so much more than an eyewear brand,” says Gentle Monster’s founder Hankook Kim. “We’re designers, entrepreneurs and above all, innovative creators, who express creativity through eyewear.”
NYC-based label Baja East has experienced a steady rise since its 2013 launch. The brainchild of designers John Targon and Scott Studenberg, the brand was a contender for LVMH’s "Young Designers" award back in 2015 and its East-meets-West creations have been a key player in a number of high-profile celebrities' wardrobes, including Gwen Stefani and Lady GaGa - definitely one of the more buzzy names on NYFW's expansive roster.
This season, Baja East took over a a Lower Manhattan car park to present its SS17 collection. Tie-dye colors, python prints and fringed details packed a tropical punch to the line's overarching luxe-streetwear vibe. Highlights include a flowy, metallic silver button-up, a zebra-print cardigan, a pair of silky, electric blue wide-leg trousers and a tee emblazoned with the word "Thriving" on it (which is a personal motto of mine).
Cult favorite Eckhaus Latta ignited a whirlwind of critical plaudit with its SS17 collection. Launched in 2012, the brand accrued a sizable following in the Big Apple's thriving underground scene thanks to its gender-bending ethos, colorful casts and experimental silhouettes. This season, however, designersMike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta seemed to have piqued the interests of both art folk and commercial-minded buyers with what many have dubbed as its most polished collection to date.
Held on a steamy morning in the Lower East Side’s Seward Park, the show flaunted a series of earthy-toned getups that employed a bevy of dead stock textiles (flyaway nylon?) and ornate detailing (three-dimensional panels?). Sweatshirts, tees and jeans featured bits of shirting stitched onto them by embroidery spelling out both the brand’s name and the words "Election Reform." Foulard print suiting was cut from emerald corduroy, trousers were wide-legged and two-toned and hemlines were sliced raw and curled up ever so slightly.
“I don’t think we were like, ‘Let’s make a collection that will sell,’” Latta briefed Vogue, “but we’re learning from things, and it’s exciting to have our clothes distributed. We don’t want to only be seen as art school kids who don’t know how to make clothes, because we really aren’t.”
While we managed to check out Parsons' SS17 MFA show, fellow design school RISD's (Rhode Island School of Design) fashion fair unfortunately didn't make the cut in our jam-packed schedule. However, that doesn't mean the show didn't deliver an equally impressive lineup of promising talent - case and point: recent graduate Christopher Mena, the man behind avant-minded streetwear imprint KUNST.NYC.
Mena's method of what he calls "remixing" involves the slashing, sewing and tearing of both old and new garments to craft completely bespoke designs (fashion school grads just love a bit of deconstruction *cough*Margiela*cough*). KUNST.NYC's NYFW debut was an aggressive display that screamed "art kid going through a punk rock phase", but its scrupulous tailoring and peculiar patchwork-embellishments gave it this high-low brow vibe that very #relevant in streetwear right now.