As John Galliano once said, "fashion is above all an art of change," and at a highly volatile, peak-visible moment for the fashion industry, this is certainly true. Just a few seasons ago, fashion week was more public and popular than ever thanks to the influx of influencers covering the shows on social media, but now, there is already a push to overhaul the event and breathe new life into the fashion presentation calendar. With brands flying to exotic locations to host shows (namely for Resort season, but Tom Ford and Givenchy have also been known to transplant their brands to new destinations from season to season), to public shows and fashion fairs put on by the likes of Tommy Hilfiger, the fashion show is again reinventing itself to keep from going stale and losing the public's fickle interest.
Halfway into the thick of New York Fashion Week, we took a look at how some brands are creatively subverting the traditional catwalk or presentation format and are catching our attention in the process.
Rag & Bone
Fraying the costs of a huge runway production, and making an artistic and social statement simultaneously, the crew at rag&bone went the lookbook route for Spring/Summer 2018, casting their favourite models and artists to pose in "self-portraits" wearing the new collection. The twist? Instead of paying them, the label let each face of the collection chose a charity of their choice for rag&bone to donate to. You can see the entire lookbook and read about the causes supported by it over at @ragandbone on Instagram.
NYC-based vintage shop The Break may have hosted a presentation like many others this fashion week, but the concept in and of itself was highly original. Not often to multi-brand, or in this case secondhand, retailers showcase their lines at fashion week. The boutique also cast a plethora of New York it-girls including activists, artists, social media models, and editors to model and promote the collection, which was available to shop instantaneously on Thursday night.
Also an New York-based brand, Brujas is known for being a feminist political skatewear collective. (Ok, cool - right?) It makes sense then, that in this turbulent political moment where Americans are being categorized, stigmatized, profiled, and brutalized on a massive scale, that the socially-minded organization wanted to do something and say something more than just "here's our collection." This NYFW, the group put on a series of teach-ins on September 9 about education and empowerment, also marking the launch of a collection "inspired by the Mississippi freedom schools of the 1960s, Michel Foucault’s Discipline and Punish, and the uniforms worn by the Brujas at Catholic school on the Lower East Side.” We're calling it - this is the best subversion of the fashion week format we've seen yet.
Across the pond, as they say, Burberry will also be staging their own subversive new format. In addition to a "see now, buy now" catwalk show, the historic British label is also running a public exhibition of photographs showcasing British life in the 20th century, curated by Christopher Bailey and featuring the likes of Alasdair McLellan, Martin Parr, and others. Here We Are will be open at Old Sessions House in London from September 18-October 1.
Like rag&bone, American designer Zac Posen dropped the fashion show for a lookbook too. He invited select members of the fashion press to a preview, which also happened to be a behind the scenes look at the live lookbook shoot starring Barbara Fiahlo and Kate Upton. The lookbook will be distributed digitally, in addition to some video clips shot by Posen himself on Instagram.