This week, a look at NYFW designers’ big, economy-driven ideas for spring 2024. Scroll down to use Glossy+ Comments, giving the Glossy+ community the opportunity to join discussions around industry topics.
At New York Fashion Week Spring 2024, designer collections largely fell into one of two buckets: pragmatic or fantastical, decidedly practical or intentionally whimsical. But all designers seemed to agree on a heightened focus on commercial viability as the season’s dominant theme.
Tibi founder and designer Amy Smilovic literally wrote the book on “creative pragmatism,” her signature approach to personal style that champions modernity and functionality. For Tibi’s spring runway, that translated to familiar tailored styles with unexpected details, a neutral color palette, and a “comfortable, unforced” beauty look of wash-and-go hair and headbands.
“Our customer likes to plan out their wardrobe; they buy from us with a whole year in mind,” she said. “So when they see what’s coming for next spring, they’re thinking about what they’ll buy this fall. They’re constantly thinking about how they can mix pieces together.”
Similarly, “I’m always thinking about how things can be worn in different ways,” said Elizabeth Giardina, creative director of Another Tomorrow, while talking through her spring collection. She pointed out a reversible sweater and a button-down blouse with an added button allowing it to also be worn as a wrap top.
In August, through a campaign featuring model Carolyn Murphy, Another Tomorrow debuted a 34-piece collection of evergreen separates dubbed The Foundation. But, the brand’s “seasonal, emotional” fall and spring collections are also very timeless, Giardina said. “It’s not stuff that you wear, and then a year later, you’re over it. You’re still investing in a wardrobe that is long-lasting.”
Three-year-old Another Tomorrow, which is B Corp certified, is in growth mode, having entered retailers including Net-a-Porter, Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman within the last year. Expanding internationally and providing in-store access to the clothes will be a focus of 2024.
At the mid-NYFW celebration of his namesake fashion brand’s 40th anniversary, Kenneth Cole said he owes the business’s longevity to its focus on “purpose, utility and tech.” The latter includes material innovations offering temperature controllability and stretch.
“You have to earn a place in people’s closets,” he said. “And comfort is infused in everything we do.”
While practicality is in the DNA of many brands, others strategically used their spring collection to spotlight a fresh focus on wearability.
For example, according to Altuzarra’s show notes, designer Joseph Altuzarra intentionally switched gears from a four-season focus on “imagination and myth” to a collection “anchored in everyday style and pragmatism.”
On that note, while Adeam’s fall collection was edgy and inspired by punk rock, its ballet-inspired spring collection offers pieces that are “more restrained,” said Hanako Maeda, the brand’s founder, designer and CEO.
“The [spring] collection doesn’t feel super ‘eveningwear,’” she said, noting that even the dressier pieces can easily be dressed down.
“Versatility is very important today,” said Maeda. “People aren’t wearing an outfit just one time; it’s important that they can wear it multiple times and keep it in their wardrobe and maybe hand it down to someone else.”
In seasons past, staple wardrobe pieces were largely confined to Adeam’s pre-spring and pre-fall collections, while the spring and fall lines let Maeda’s creativity and inspiration shine, she said.
On the practical-to-theatrical fashion spectrum, designer Charles Harbison said he’s intentional about keeping his designs in the middle. To illustrate his approach, he quoted Edgar Allan Poe: “Those who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”
“I like the space I’m in, where I’m able to activate my dreams … rather than be focused on fantasies that will never come true,” Harbison said. “I want to help every customer live out a dream in the world. So [my clothes] are practical, but they’re also dreamy.”
Several of Harbison’s designs are made in a comfortable, sustainable jersey material, and many feature sleeves for people who feel uncomfortable flaunting their arms. He’s soon launching shoes, starting with flats.
At the presentation for her spring collection, LoveShackFancy founder and creative director Rebecca Hessel Cohen said the brand’s recent launches — including its product collaboration with Gap, in August, and its first fragrance, this month — have greatly expanded its customer base. Anticipating this, the brand updated its approach to designing for the season.
“There’s still whimsy and dreaminess and the fairytale, but this is the most wearable collection we’ve done,” Hessel Cohen said, pointing to new styles including a deconstructed jacket and a tailored suit. “We have something for every age.” The brand is best known for a vintage, romantic, flirty look, defined by soft floral prints and lace.
For their part, Jack Miner and Lily Miesmer, founders of the 4-year-old label Interior, called drama a brand signature. “We can’t make movies, so we make clothes,” Miesmer said. But at the same time, she said, creating clothes that are wearable is a non-negotiable. As such, on the racks holding Interior’s ’80s-inspired spring collection, flattering fit-and-flare dresses reading like retro prom dresses hung alongside “easy, low-stakes leather [separates] that can be thrown on like denim,” as described by Miesmer. Miesmer has a marketing background, while Miner formerly worked in finance and operations at Bode.
“It creates tension when you [offer] the customer something that’s beautiful but also unwearable because you need the perfect body or a huge bank account, or you have to suffer through huge discomfort, to wear it,” she said. Interior’s denim sells for $400, while dresses are upward of $800. “You can sell people the dream and also make it wearable and wear-focused. We’ll always figure out a way to make something we’re proud of that is also very scalable.”
According to Alejandro Gómez Palomo, founder and designer of Palomo Spain, “Fashion should be about making dreams.” Palomo showed his brand’s spring collection — rich in lush details like feathers, lace and floral appliqués — on Saturday at the Plaza Hotel. “We have to face reality 24 hours a day, and reality is not that nice. My job is to create a parallel universe of beauty, glamour, happiness and nice things.”
Of course, creating a dream — through campaign imagery, as well as fashion shows — can easily tend more costly than marketing versatile, timeless styles.
According to Palomo, since first launching in 2016 with over-the-top collections and then focusing too heavily on commerciality during the pandemic, the brand has settled into a working balance that accounts for both glamour and practicality. For example, peppered throughout Palomo Spain’s spring runway show were jeans and layer-able lace tops.
“Achieving that balance is the most difficult part of being a designer,” he said.
For his part, he also noted the challenge of being both the creative director and “the boss of the company, having to deal with the economics.” He called the latter his weakness, explaining that, for example, “When something goes wrong, I don’t know how to tell people off.”
Palomo and his parents are the sole owners of Palomo Spain. But, Palomo said, he’s ready to press the gas on growth through funding. Establishing a retail presence in the states through pop-ups and, eventually, a store is a goal, as is growing his “junior” team beyond family members and interns-turned-full-timers. In addition, he plans to lean into the accessories opportunity, after seeing success with Palomo Spain shoes which proved too costly to produce consistently. For spring, the brand collaborated on accessories with Bimba y Lola, a Spanish brand with strong factory relationships.
Despite its headquarters being in Spain, the brand does 70-80% of its sales in the U.S., largely in New York. “The city’s nightlife and nightstyle are super glamorous,” Palomo said, pointing to recent observations at NYC’s Indochine restaurant and The Standard Hotel.
Since the height of the pandemic, aided by the #nightluxe and Roaring ‘20s trends, as well as a new direct-to-consumer business model, the brand has seen steady growth and strong shopper loyalty, particularly in the U.S. As such, Palomo said he plans to return to NYFW to debut future collections.