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This generation’s batch of emerging designers is proof that New York is more integral to fashion design than ever. Indeed the city is also a hub for the best in beauty and style. Rather than founding their own labels fresh out of school, many of these designers have honed their talent at established brands before starting out on their own. Here are the names currently shaping contemporary fashion in New York City.
Canadian designer Chris Gelinas cultivated a respect for craftsmanship at a young age, influenced by his seamstress grandmother and woodworker grandfather. This attention to detail, along with his previous experience working for high fashion labels Balenciaga, Marc Jacobs, Proenza Schouler and Theyskens’ Theory, is evident throughout his finely-crafted clothing. Gelinas was the recipient of the Peroni Young Designer Award in 2013 and his debut SS14 collection created waves, and he has since been nominated for the LVMH Fashion Prize. With an already impressive CV under his belt and a dedicated following among fashion’s taste-makers, it’s evident that Gelinas is about to hit the big time.
Creatures of the Wind was founded in 2008 by Shane Gabier and Christopher Peters, both graduates of The Chicago Institute of Design. Their collections are inspired by dynamic, fantastical subjects such as youth culture and myth, while remaining accessible to a wider audience. The duo deftly weave a myriad of different themes into each of their collections, all the while creating truly timeless looks. While their inspiration sources might bring to mind the work of more avant-garde designers, the duo’s work maintains a more restrained approach, favoring tasteful florals and striking silhouettes over baubles and cheap pop-culture references. This marriage of imagination and wearability has attracted numerous accolades—including the CFDA Swarovski Crystal Award for Womenswear—and it’s clear that both the designs and designers have longevity.
Eleen Halvorsen’s designs encompass both the magic and myth of her native Norway with the urban attitude of her adopted New York City, resulting in pieces that turn heads for all the right reasons. A Parsons School of Design graduate, Halvorsen uses her expertise in tailoring and pattern-making to push boundaries of what womenswear should look like. Despite her avant-garde, futuristic design model, there is still an essential feminine element to her work that takes them from conceptual to wearable. Halvorsen isn’t just thinking outside the box, she’s reconstructing it.
Harbison is another brand that was founded after years of experience in the contemporary American fashion industry. Charles Elliott Harbison worked as a textiles designer after graduating from Parsons, before taking up positions in womenswear at Michael Kors and Luca Luca. The designer uses luxurious fabrics and patterns in a clean sportswear-inspired style to create versatile, modern interpretations of classic pieces. The results are also practical: jackets adapt via zips and buttons into dresses, thus taking the concept of ‘day to night’ to a whole new level. While the brand is currently in its nascent stages, Harbison’s sophisticated aesthetic is sure to help his brand find a strong foothold over the next year.
Hood by Air produces high-concept pieces that reference street culture and have subsequently garnered a huge youth following. Their success also demonstrates the power of New York artists like A$AP Rocky in bringing new designers to prominence. While the brand is sold as a menswear brand, it has a genderless appeal that has made it universally popular, and their unconventional tailoring pushes the boundaries of how menswear should be defined. Trademark pieces include the brand’s slogan sweatshirts and creative director Shayne Oliver is continuing to push the label in new exciting directions in order to create a sustainable brand.
Karolyn Pho founded her eponymous brand in 2012, but previously worked as a stylist for film and music videos after graduating from California State University in 2007. Her background in narrative styling can be seen clearly throughout her work: she plays with moods and genres in the way most designers experiment with pattern, and her collection images look like stills from a movie. It may be this creation of an entire ‘concept’ around her collections that has amassed a significant following: her collection is now stocked worldwide and she has been profiled by Wild and Blackbook as a designer to watch.
While this label’s collections may work from restrained palettes and favor a classic silhouette, Public School is not one to draw on singular influences. The brand’s oversized looks could be explained by their background in menswear, which has lent their work a utilitarian vibe. The designers behind the brand are also masters of restraining the amount of high-quality pieces they come out with: their last collection included just 13 looks. Designers Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osbourne founded the brand in 2008, and have created slow-burning success ever since. Last year, however, they were recipients of the CFDA Fashion Fund Award and the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear. The designers have stated that they want to create pieces that ‘last a lifetime’, and they have created a label which will undoubtedly do the same.
New York provides the ideal platform for international designers to create a name for themselves, and few young designers are better evidence of this than Tim Coppens. The designer hails from alternative fashion capital Antwerp, Belgium, where he acquired his degree in design before decamping to the other side of the pond to work for Adidas and Ralph Lauren. The athletic aesthetic of these two brands had a huge influence on his work, which has found great popularity in the sportswear revival of recent years. Commercial and critical success has not been thin on the ground: his work is currently stocked at numerous retailers, including Barneys and Harvey Nichols, and he was the 2014 recipient of the CDFA Swarovski Award for Menswear. We can be sure to expect great things from this young designer, regardless of which side of the Atlantic he’s on.
Tome is a label whose work defies categorization by era and genre. Founded by designers Ramon Martin and Ryan Lobo 13 years after graduating from fashion college in Sydney, Australia, collectively they have experience working for brands such as Alberta Ferretti and Derek Lam. Their brand is therefore the result of a huge range of influences from high and low culture, which they combine with Prada-like panache. Their SS15 collection was dominated by timeless pieces in opulent fabrics, creating a brand image that has won over legions of fans, including the CFDA judging panel. As finalists in the enormously prestigious CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, they are perfectly poised to break into the mainstream.