It’s fact: New York City is an endless source of inspiration. There are books, songs, and movies that document it in spades, and fittingly, fashion is just as much a reflection. And with New York Fashion Week just about a week away, we wanted to get a bit more specific about where in the Big Apple designers actually look when they need to get the creative juices flowing.
While New York’s iconic museums and famous landmarks all have their own special magic to inspire, there are a few surprising spots around the city that designers swear by. We’re talking Whole Foods and popular West Village restaurants. And we also found that even the most seasoned designers can’t just pick one place—there’s a bit of inspiration within every nook and cranny of NYC, especially if you know how to welcome it.
Ahead, we chatted with 14 of the most impressive, successful, and talented designers to find out where they head before they get to work on the clothes we'll (inevitably) covet. Click on to get their recommendations.
"I find inspiration all over the city, which is why I deliberately walk on different routes every day. I like the fact that I run into the most unexpected things."
— Jason Wu
"I'm always inspired by the people. Whether it's at museums like the Cooper Hewitt, seeing retro glamour take place at The Grill uptown, or people-watching at Washington Square Park, I am constantly amazed."
— Tanya Taylor
"I love going to Whole Foods alone with headphones in—I get really good vibes from going grocery shopping and people-watching. My local Bowery Whole Foods is under renovation right now, so it's throwing me off a little bit. I just like walking around my neighborhood. Sometimes I'll walk around and literally run into my grandma or an aunt."
— Sandy Liang
"I always get my best ideas while I'm eating breakfast at Cafe Cluny."
— Jonathan Simkhai
"The flower market in Manhattan is my happy place. Sometimes I sneak away and spend an hour looking at all of the flowers from around the world, studying colors and textures. It's an unexpected and kind of crazy place, but I feel incredibly at peace there!"
— Aurora James, Brother Vellies
"Inspiration is everywhere—art, architecture, music, film. It's all about learning and evolution and new ways of seeing things."
— Tory Burch
Cinq à Sept
"People-watching by the fountain at Lincoln Center."
— Jane Siskin, Cinq à Sept
Kate Spade New York
"I love to visit New York's Flower District for inspiration. Fresh flowers are a constant part of my life, and the colors are often a basis for the Kate Spade New York collections."
— Deborah Lloyd, Kate Spade New York
"People don't move to New York City to fit in, and that's very apparent by the vibrant characters you encounter every day. Just walking through Central Park to work, I am constantly inspired by the different outfits and eccentric personalities of the people around me."
— Brett Heyman, Edie Parker
"I bike everywhere in NYC, and I find inspiration at every block. There is such a variety here of architecture styles, people from all walks of life, and art forms that living here is constantly exciting and changing."
— Lela Rose
"Riding the subway is always inspiring—observations in dress and behavior."
— Dion Lee
"Walking the Williamsburg Bridge early in the morning."
— Mara Hoffman
"Even though we are based in Barcelona, traveling to NYC is always a great idea to look for inspiration. Our first destination, wherever we are, is museums or galleries. Therefore, in NYC, we always go to the Neue Galerie. The aesthetic and space are beautiful, and the collection of German and Austrian art always gets our creativity going—it's like we fly back in time. Another stop which is a must is The Frick Collection. We admire every detail, exterior and interior, of the space as well as the art exposed. We have always been huge fans of Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, and the Metropolitan Museum currently has an amazing exhibition on his work, so that for sure is a must. After our uptown inspiration round, we always head downtown to get some more of the city's dynamic energy and grunge. We think that this combination is the best balance to get the creativity flowing."
— Melissa Bofill and Marcela Velez, M2Malletier
"My aesthetic is about mixing the East with the West, drawing from experiences in my hometown, Tokyo, New York, and other places of travel. Spring 2018 started with my trip to Hong Kong, but I was also influenced by the disco culture of New York in the '70s, drawing images from Guy Bourdin's photography of Studio 54."
— Hanako Maeda, Adeam
Up next, take a look at the going-out looks that fashion girls around the globe are loving right now.