For years, the major menswear shows have been limited to London, Milan, and Paris, leading New York-based labels to either pick a different city or show during the biannual womenswear Fashion Weeks. But with the growth of the global men’s fashion market, the Big Apple began to broaden its horizons, and New York Fashion Week: Men’s finally came about for the first time this summer. Thanks to the CFDA, many could argue that New York’s menswear scene would officially be on-par with that of the other major fashion capitals, while the four-day event itself was buzzing with excitement and optimism (and of course, an abundance of street style hoopla, wild after parties, and other fanfare), even after the three-weeks of European menswear concluded last month. So, how did NYC measure up?
Let’s face it, American fashion – especially American men’s fashion – has a lot to do with major corporations. As a result, New York tends to veer on the conservative side when compared to its European counterparts, making safe bets for the red-blooded masses. An entirely menswear-focused week didn’t completely wash away that notion; from Tommy Hilfiger to Greg Lauren, the all-American male was still a driving force. But we can’t forget about New York’s status as a breeding ground for creativity and innovation. That was definitely apparent in plenty of the collections we saw.
New York’s fashion scene wouldn’t be the same without Public School, and designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne proved their position as potentially the hottest menswear label in the city. With their latest collection, Chow and Osborne tapped into the city’s status as one of the least homogenous in the world, which translated into a diverse cast that stood in a police lineup. The duo showed a mastery of combining sleek tailoring with athleticism, tying all of the elements together into something undeniably street. Another pair of designers who benefited from increased attention away from the womenswear bill, Steven Cox and Daniel Silver of Duckie Brown presented yet another dynamic outlook on men’s fashion for spring 2016. With wide-leg trousers and oversized, billowy tunics, the show proved that loosened tailoring is still very much a thing, though it doesn’t have to be sloppy or unclean. The masterful conceptualization and exaggerated silhouettes shown at Duckie Brown were further evidence that New York’s menswear could be a force to be reckoned with.
Long before New York men’s fashion was even a major topic of discussion, designers Robert Geller and Alexandre Plohkov had a cult following under their avant-garde menswear label, Cloak. Since then, the duo has parted ways, though both creators’ visions were on full display this time around. Plohkov stayed true to the brooding nature made popular at Cloak, presenting something of a cyber-goth concept with surprising bursts of primary colors. Monochrome looks allowed more attention to be directed at the textures of the fabrics, most of which were nothing short of ethereal. Meanwhile, Robert Geller had something lighter in mind: a vision of paradise. His memories of vacations along the North Sea translated into billowy trousers, light, papery outerwear, and a swirling pattern that was printed and embroidered on various garments. Though incredibly different, it’s remarkable to see these two designers’ respective aesthetics come to life in the city that brought them up.
Unlike Robert Geller and Alexandre Plohkov, Siki Im hasn’t built his label on cult followings and large-scale praise. In fact, one could argue that Im’s had a hard time truly gaining acceptance in the New York fashion scene. But that might be something of the past after his latest feat. Though always emphasizing precision in his tailoring, the designer finally seemed to loosen and lighten up, presenting a collection of disheveled relaxation and youthful awkwardness. Youth is an undeniably important factor in New York fashion; aside from the big corporate names, young visionaries are the ones who really keep the city going. That was certainly the case when looking at Edmund Ooi’s collection. Inspired by Edgar Martins’ photos of the European Space Agency, Ooi attempted to translate space suits into sportswear. The end result was a slightly androgynous ensemble of stretch-knit tops, reflective panels, elastic drawstrings, and crop-tops worn without pants, displaying an exciting proposition for the future.
Speaking of the future, there was a definite vision of new New York in the collections by designers like Daisuke Obana of N. Hoolywood and Tim Coppens. Also leaning towards a sporty angle, both designers presented clothes that were as practical and functional as they were modern and luxurious. Slightly street in both parties’ cases, N. Hoolywood stayed minimal while Tim Coppens presented some striking pops of color. Altogether, these were two more labels that refuted any claims about New York fashion being stagnant, safe, or forgettable.
It’s safe to say that this is an exciting time to be in New York’s menswear scene, as there were some truly impressive feats and compelling concepts presented. However, it might still be too soon to tell whether or not NYFWM was a true success. New York sure has great style and talented fashion visionaries, but so do less-covered cities like Tokyo, Berlin, or Seoul. Will the European editors come back next season? And will this increased attention boost sales? Only time will tell. But what’s most important is the ability of New York’s menswear designers to create an entirely unique identity, something that no other fashion capital can provide. Let’s wait and see…
Click through the gallery below to see some of the top looks from New York Fashion Week: Men’s SS16, and let us know your favorites!