Why Is NYFW Still Important? Emerging Designers Weigh In

This week I’m reminded of how much I love seeing a new name on my calendar for fashion week. It might not necessarily be a brand that just launched—it can be a label I once heard in passing but don’t really know much about or one I saw on Instagram at some point but have yet to purchase a piece from myself. Either way, that sense of discovery is a huge part of what makes fashion week so important, at least for me.

Over the past few seasons of fashion shows in New York, I’ve noticed more and more emerging and little-known labels making their mark, even while so many big-name brands are leaving for other cities or moving around their production calendars. In fact, of the four major cities that will host a fashion week this month, New York outnumbers London, Milan, and Paris with over three times as many participants. All of which makes me wonder, what makes New York Fashion Week important?

I can answer that for myself, sure—it’s the ability to see the landscape of work among amazing American designers, the excitement of being first to see trends bubble up, the fact that it’s the most diverse fashion week, and I have a bit of hometown pride—but what about the newest additions to the calendar?

These are designers who’ve only have a few runway shows under their belts, just recently gained notoriety, or even launched their e-commerce sites within the last month. However, as we found out, it was important for them to be at fashion week, and New York’s specifically. Ahead, take a look at (and meet) some of the newest brands we saw this past week on the runway and in presentations, and find out why they’re sticking around.

Land of Distraction

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Land of Distraction

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Danita Short: This is our debut. Land of Distraction Collection One had a soft launch on November 30, 2017, in Los Angeles, and the e-commerce launch was February 1, 2018. Collection Two represents our first NYFW appearance.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

Showing during NYFW places Land of Distraction in front of the press. With our website launch in February, the timing was just right to show during NYFW. We are very excited for people to experience our new Land and open it up to a broader audience.

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Land of Distraction

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

Since this is our first NYFW presentation, we wanted to do something intimate and easy so guests could see the collection upfront and touch the fabrics. Connecting with industry insiders was also an important goal.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

New York remains a major fashion hub and provides a foundation for future interest in the international market, which we hope to see the brand move toward as we grow.

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Land of Distraction

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

We hope the guests who came to our presentation will remember our brand and see themselves in our clothing. Our goal is to grow organically, so social media and word-of-mouth are both important parts of being part of fashion week. Also, the press coverage we received will help us reach people who did not attend the presentation.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

We feel like we hit the correct note for our first presentation. We let the clothes themselves take the center stage. It was an honor to plant our flag during NYFW as we definitely plan on showing again.

Nanushka

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Nanushka

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Sandra Sandor: I started Nanushka in Budapest in 2005. For the first seven years, we catered only for our local market and customers. Around 2012 we started selling to international stockists, but we stayed under the radar until very recently. At the end of 2016, we decided to pursue a more ambitious growth strategy with a more global presence, and here we are on our very first New York Fashion Week presentation—actually, the very first international fashion week that we have ever participated at. This is quite a big step up for a brand coming from the Eastern Bloc. Up until now we only dreamt about it.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

First and foremost, we could create a tactile experience, one that reflects our brand DNA much stronger than any lookbook or video you could make. It gives us a global exposure. All the key press and buyers are present, and they can connect with the brand as an entire universe rather than just pieces of clothes on hangers. During the presentation, we could speak to them, hear their thoughts, and, furthermore, see the response on their faces. And in the digital age, we just cannot forget that fashion is very intimate and personal. You need these personal connections to inspire you.

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Nanushka

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

I wanted to express my vision in a complex and uncompromising way in which I can speak to our customers like I couldn’t before. It was a fantastic experience to do the casting here in New York and work with such diverse and inspiring women. Looking back at the images of the presentation, I get really emotional. It was a beautiful and very intimate moment to me, inviting people to step into my world. We never thought of such a crazy response and support from international press and influencers. Some of our most loved girls, such as Camille Charrière, Maria Bernard, Courtney Trop, Caroline Issa from Tank magazine, or Lisa Aiken from Net-a-Porter joined us that day. Our social media blew up!

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

We had quite a bit of discussion with Peter, my partner in life and business who is also the CEO of Nanushka, about which fashion week it should be to see our first debut internationally. New York is definitely the place for us, for its openness and diversity. We feel at home.

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Nanushka

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

I hope I could share my story in a way that’s not only beautiful to the eyes but shares our story beyond that. I was born in Budapest, Hungary, eight years prior to the fall of the Iron Curtain. Throughout history, my home country has always been an intersection of East and West. This duality has formed our culture, personality, and aesthetics. I want people to see how we can create a bridge between distant cultural references from different times and different places.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

We have learnt more than we hoped for, and I know that radical changes will come soon for NYFW, but Nanushka would like to be part of this journey. We are grateful for the love and unforgettable moments NYC gave us.

Romeo Hunte

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Romeo Hunte

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Romeo Hunte: Romeo Hunte was founded back in 2012 and has shown four collections during NYFW.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

New York Fashion Week’s role has become more of a social event, with influencers attending shows to provide growth for emerging designers such as our brand and also to be able to get an in-depth look into what other brands are going to be presenting for the upcoming season.

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Romeo Hunte

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

My goal for this NYFW was to maintain my personal identity as well as further develop relationships with influencers and fellow industry peers.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

Personally, NYFW signifies the celebration and acceptance of fashion along with utilizing it as a platform to display emotions and express innovative ideas.

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Romeo Hunte

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

We provide a strong social media presence to inform them about the brand.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

In my opinion, NYFW helps build a brand’s image, which is crucial in all aspects, and to make sure that people know that fashion is not a dying industry.

Marina Moscone

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Marina Moscone

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Marina Moscone: My first collection was for S/S 18, about a year and a half ago. This season, F/W 18, was the very first Marina Moscone NYFW presentation. In the past, the goal was to focus on showing the collection privately—one on one with press and buyers.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

Fashion week plays a valuable role in our business. Various outlets such as Moda Operandi, Vogue Runway, and WWD have helped to draw in new opportunities for growth, new retailers, etc. We hold market during both New York and Paris fashion weeks, and I think the global visibility has been very helpful for us from both a press and retail standpoint. The intimate and tactile element has always been very important to me; our collection features luxurious fabrics such as Peruvian alpaca, chintz silk wool that reads as leather, fil-coupé fringe with an ombré print that we made in house—essentially textures that need to be seen up close to be fully appreciated.

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Marina Moscone

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

My goal was to make the presentation feel just as intimate as the past seasons’ one-on-one format. I have always been completely involved with every part of the process myself—from the editors to the buyers but also with the people who work on the sales floor; the people behind the scenes in the factories; the cutters, sewers, pattern makers and the fabric mills in Italy—the tactile element is very important to me, and the goal with showing at NYFW this season was to continue to convey that. With the Keystone State Boychoir, the room, the beautiful set, the mossy flowers, I wanted everyone to leave with the feeling that they were wrapped up in a warm hug in that room.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

NYFW is an opportunity to deliver a message. In this case, it was about conveying the relationship between the craft and the material. It’s also an opportunity to connect with people, both new and existing friendships. I think the ceremonial aspect, or the actual “spectacle” of a show is still very relevant in this realm of fashion. There is so much that goes into these clothes—from writing about them, buying them, collecting them, wearing them, and appreciating them. I think this is a nice way of showing and inviting people to see the collection from my point of view. It’s also important to have a bit of fun with it and not make it overly serious. It should be an emotional experience.

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Marina Moscone

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

As mentioned above, I think coming away from the presentation with a warm feeling is our goal. Francesca (my business partner) and I work really hard to make the experience a sincere one. We are sisters as well as business partners, so we want everyone to feel like they are a part of that warm, family experience. I hope that the attendees walk away with the message, which is always an evolution of the brand. The goal isn’t necessarily to make things “better” than last season; I think the goal is to evolve, and that means the brand DNA or message continues to grow and progress. There is of course coverage that those who aren’t able to attend can refer to and hopefully feel a part of the experience. We do our very best to include everyone in the process whether they are nearby or far away. Many who can’t make it to the presentation will often come to the showroom soon after.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

Francesca and I (and our whole team) are always learning from the new experiences that come with the early years of a company. Given that this was the first presentation for our own brand, we worked with many new teams and people. Managing personalities is always something challenging that comes with the territory. I think making sure we have the best people coming on board behind the scenes is also always something we strive for, but is at the same time a challenge to find and maintain. The two of us also need to make sure we’re in good enough shape to take care of everyone else! Participation and crossing this milestone are important for us at this point in our business, and given that there is flexibility on how to participate in terms of show format and “curating” the overall experience, it is a positive. We already see the benefits of presenting—the market calendar is booked with retailers who we would like to align our brand with, there is positive press follow-up, and the collaborations and business opportunities continue to fit our big-picture and long-term plan.

Han Wen

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Han Wen

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Han Wen: Han Wen has officially been around for two years, and my first three seasons showed in London Fashion Week because I won a British design award when I first started my brand and got sponsored to show in London. This F/W 18 collection presentation is actually my first show back in NYC.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

It’s a great stage for me to tell stories using my collection and show people how Han Wen’s girl looks. It also can lead people to know more about my brand, and possibly getting me clients for the future.

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Han Wen

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

Because this is my first show in NYC, I wanted it to be special and different from the traditional runway. I wanted people to have more time to discover the details in my clothing. I also wanted to communicate with whoever is interested in my design directly, instead of just bowing at the end of the show.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

I spent four years studying fashion design in this city and saw, helped, and interned in many different shows. It’s a dream come true to see that one day my own show is happening in this city.

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Han Wen

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation? And how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand, too?

I want to show people that as a fashion designer, I became more and more clear about the balance in between creativity and business. I am growing up and each collection is stronger, more beautiful and smarter than before. By doing a presentation this season, I am able to communicate with my guest, this communication helps them to get to know me and my brand, in addition me and my team worked on every details for this show from zero, so I think the outcome of the show also can show people what kind of brand and designer I am.   

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

Team work is very important, and the calmer you get during chaos, the better outcome you get.

Saks Potts

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Saks Potts

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Catherine Saks and Barbara Potts: Saks Potts was founded in the summer of 2013. Since then we have held three fashion shows during Copenhagen Fashion Week, alongside showroom appointments in Paris. This season was the first time showing in New York, which was incredibly exciting.

What do you see as the role of fashion week in your business?

It’s the greatest way to meet people. All of the people we work with live a lot of different places around the world, but during fashion week, everyone meets in the same city. Fashion week is also a great way for us to express what is in our hearts. At a typical Saks Potts show or presentation, the theme and the feeling of the collection are expressed to their fullest. It’s so great to show our collection in the universe for which we designed it.

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Saks Potts

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation?

We really wanted to showcase the Saks Potts universe to people who may only know about our coats but not all the many other elements of our brand. This kind of presentation also allows us to meet and talk with many people at once, which is so rewarding.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

New Yorkers have a very open-minded perspective, which is amazing for new designers. New York is quite different compared to, say, Paris, where the established designers have a huge say in the fashion world. Here in New York, there is so much more focus on new designers, which we love. We also happen to have a lot of supportive friends here.

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Saks Potts

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

We hope that our very visual set design encourages Instagram photos, which in turn integrates a greater audience than just the guests who came to the presentation. We hope everyone has gotten a better understanding of the Saks Potts girl and the universe around the collection.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

Working on the production of a presentation in New York versus Copenhagen is very different. People here are extremely positive and hardworking, which Danish people could learn a lot from. With that said, we love Copenhagen and will definitely continue to show there. But it’s certainly not the last time we will show in New York—you may expect bigger things from us in the near future.

Nehra Simone 

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Nehra Simone

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Katie Nehra: I started Simone in 2007, but Nehra Simone is brand new. This was the first thing I've done on my own.

What do you see as the role of Fashion Week in your business?

I think NYFW is where serious fashion players are, any feedback you receive usually has some merit.

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Nehra Simone 

What kind of goal did you have going into this year's NYFW presentation?

I was just hoping all the samples got here in time! It was important that I was able to communicate what the brand is to not just industry insiders, but to the public and for me to see what was translating and what wasn't.

Why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

It's where people that are serious about fashion, in the States, are.

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Nehra Simone 

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation? And how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand, too?

I would hope when someone sees the collection they can't stop thinking about it; a certain piece and they have to have it! That's really the biggest compliment one can receive. An article of clothing that speaks to you, should haunt you the way someone you fall in love with does. Look, no one needs an red argyle printed leather sweatsuit, but can you imagine the kind of day you can have wearing one?

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW?

I think it's important to participate if you're trying to communicate to a certain audience. Fashion has changed a lot over the past five years. In some ways it's really exciting because there's so many different ways to show your brand! You can communicate what you're about through social media or your own channels. Though sometimes that lends itself to a lot flash and no substance. At the end of the day if you're making clothes that can't stand on their own, in a room, you probably shouldn't be.

Snow Xue Gao

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Shutterstock

How many years has your brand been around, and how many New York Fashion Weeks have you participated in?

Snow Xue Gao: I’ve been running Snow Xue Gao for a year and a half. I’ve shown my collection at NYFW four times: First was my graduate collection of Parsons MFA show, the second was with Vfiles, the third was a solo presentation, and the latest one was a runway show.

What do you see as the role and opportunity of fashion week in your business?

I design womenswear, so NYFW is kind of like showcasing your design abilities while appealing to sales at the same time. Usually we move all the pieces to our NY sales showroom right after the show, so I am still finding the balance between runway and sales and how they benefit each other.

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Shutterstock

What kind of goal did you have going into this year’s NYFW presentation/show?

Since this is was my first runway show at NYFW, the main goal was to highlight the brand identity—sending the brand message and telling my brand story. At the same time, I’m honing in on what my brand means to me and how I want to convey that message.

Personally speaking, why is New York Fashion Week important to you?

NYFW still brings so many industry people together to focus on what’s happening in the fashion industry while carrying a functionality for business while keeping everyone excited.

What do you hope everyone takes away from your fashion week presentation/show, and how do you make sure those who aren’t editors, buyers, etc. feel like they can get to know your brand too?

I hope everyone walks away or understands, by looking at my collection, what my brand message is. For those who are outside the immediate fashion circle, I think the easiest and fastest way to connect is through social media. It’s also a good way for people to follow me and, hopefully, become a future customer.

What’s been the biggest learning from this past NYFW, and how important do you think it is to continue to participate?

The biggest thing for me is to focus on my task while making sure to enjoy the process. I love to design and excite people with fashion, not just editors, buyers, etc. I hope to keep doing this for a very long time.

The Consensus 

Among the designers we spoke with, it as evident that (skeptics aside) New York Fashion Week is still very much important—it’s face time with those in the industry that can help propel their brands and it’s a means of making a splash on social media. Obviously, a couple weeks out of the year aren't the only time this can be done, and while these emerging designers keep hustling through the 50 others, many of them seem to be ready to head back to NYC come September. See you there.