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Brands bring ‘main character’ energy to New Yorkers beyond fashion’s elite
This New York Fashion Week, designers and retailers are opening the doors to their activations, positioning the strategy as a celebration of New York and its inhabitants. The move comes at a time when anyone with a phone can amplify a message – or an outfit – with the best of them.
“New York is the backdrop, 3.1 [Phillip Lim] is the wardrobe, and you are the main character,” designer Phillip Lim told Glossy this week, regarding the stage he set for his fall 2023 collection debut.
This season, Lim pivoted from his usual runway show format, instead leveraging a pop-up art gallery in NYC’s Lower East Side. The featured exhibition — digital screens featuring artist Jiro Konami’s take on the collection — opened last night to fashion week’s usual suspects, including buyers, editors and influencers. But it will remain open to the public all weekend, allowing anyone to make like an “it” girl and peruse the videos of dancing models and New York neighborhoods. The brand is promoting the event on its homepage and social channels.
“[I want to] bring people into the 3.1 world and show them they belong here,” Lim said. “3.1 Phillip Lim is a community, … and everyone’s New York story is one of grit and romance. That’s the magic we’re celebrating.”
For its part, Bergdorf Goodman is running a campaign titled “Only in New York.” It centers on clothes by New York-based designers, with a large focus on young and emerging brands, including Luar, Theophilio and Maxwell Osborne’s An Only Child. For the imagery, artist Joana Avillez developed illustrations of a variety of New Yorkers wearing looks by the brands. For example, songwriter Mark Ronson is sporting Peter Do, philanthropist Deeda Blair is in The Row, and writer Antwaun Sargent wears Bode. Images showing them together at a dinner party are currently featured in Bergdorf’s store windows, as part of a “360-degree” marketing play, said Elle Strauss, the retailer’s vp of creative and brand marketing.
“We’re speaking to everyone, in and outside of the fashion world, [hoping] to bring them in and join us in celebrating this creative energy that’s coming out of New York,” she said.
The campaign supports Bergdorf’s merchandise buy for the season, of course. Department stores have struggled in recent years, amid the rise of competing e-tailers. For Bergdorf, keeping the curated assortment “fresh,” as Strauss described it, while also continuing to uphold its reputation as a fashion authority are ongoing focuses of the company. That includes giving lesser-known designers the type of “main character” positioning traditionally reserved for conglomerate-owned mega-brands. In 2019, it launched a platform dubbed Radar to spotlight fashion up-and-comers.
The new campaign’s featured designers also happen to have young, engaged followings, as do the pictured stars, from Chloë Sevigny to editor Gabriella Karefa-Johnson. Bode, for one, has an obsessed fan base and has been hailed a “next-gen brand to know.”
Collina Strada previews THC NYC
Yesterday evening, Collina Strada upheld its reputation for going against the grain by leaning on the unique themes of animals and cannabis.
The social media attention around the show went to the models, who walked and prowled the runway sporting horns, tails, snouts and scales. Among them: Ella Emhoff, Tommy Dorfman and Glossy 50 honoree Aaron Rose Philip. Fittingly, the soundtrack included barking sounds, which were mixed with a repeated phrase pointing to the brand’s sustainability focus: “I care a lotta, I wear Collina Strada.”
For attendees, the venue was a talking point. Before entering, each guest was required to sign a waiver stating that they “elect to voluntarily participate” in the show, despite “the risk of injury and even death,” given the active construction in the building. They then walked seven flights of stairs before reaching the show space — with the exception of Anna Wintour, Lynn Yaeger and Fern Mallis, who were granted access to a secret elevator, one of their assistants told Glossy. Comments by the guests making the climb included, “Why is it so hard for designers to just choose the right venue?” and “I’m not about to get wet paint on my new jacket from The Row.”
The reason for the construction was the space being prepped to become THC NYC. Set to open in spring, it’s being described on its digital channels as “the first-ever immersive destination exploring high culture through a multi-sensory, transportive experience.” The runway show’s gift bag suited the location: Stamped with “Best Buds,” it was filled with items from Edie Parker’s cannabis accessories line, Flower, and a gift card to shop the brand, labeled “Drug Money.”
Two’s a trend? It’s still early in the week, but a couple of common themes are starting to surface.
Fashion: Pinstripe suiting. One may say, “For fall? Groundbreaking.” But, constructed in non-traditional silhouettes, the season’s iterations by designers including Jonathan Simkhai and Prabal Gurung do, indeed, feel innovative.
Beauty: Hair bows. The accessory is still going strong, in every size and style: At Alice & Olivia, Nick Stenson wrapped chignons with large, sparkly versions. Sally Liang, meanwhile, peppered models’ hair from roots to ends with mini bows.
At the shows: Double-seating attendees. For shows including Dion Lee and Collina Strada, attendees were squeezed into seats after realizing their seat number wasn’t unique. The takeaway: Arrive early for first dibs.
“And that’s called a presentation, babe.” –Whitney Port-Rosenman, walking her daughter toward the exit of Saturday afternoon’s Alice & Olivia show