February 21, 2010

Breaking into the New York Fashion Scene

Here’s another post about the UNRESERVED Alliance event in New York during Fashion Week (Written by WGSN Americas blog). It is great to see so many (albeit brief) responses to the UNRESERVED Alliance Native fashion events (which were two trunk shows: one on Thursday and one on Friday).

I attended the UNRESERVED trunk show on Friday at Ramscale Penthouse Studios, and was curious if the Native fashion events were ‘a success.’ UNRESERVED co-founder Gail Bruce told me that the Thursday event went well – it was a trunk show at the Bryant Park Hotel Loft. Instead of doing a full fashion show, they wanted to create a more intimate environment where members of the press could attend and interact with the designers. One of the most important aspects of Fashion Week is getting press coverage – this is the reason why the New York Fashion Week launched in the first place during the post-war era: if you create one event where the best of America’s designers will share their work, the press will attend and review, discuss, and promote the fashion designs in various publications (the top being magazines like Vogue or Harpers Bazaar). So, 'success' is gauged by press coverage.

One of the goals of the UNRESERVED Alliance is to get Native American designers and artists into the New York scene since it is our country’s fashion and art mecca (some of my New York friends disagree – citing the recent emergence of new art centers and the decentralizing of the art world due to increased mobilization – but that’s a different story!). On a basic level, UNRESERVED most definitely accomplishes this goal – they were able to get designers into New York. However, it is my opinion that the events were small. New York is big, there are many events going on, and members of the press expect fantastic shows to report on. Basically, Native artists and designers (and their show coordinators) need to bring their A game. We're competing with 'the best of the best' for press attention. The post by WGSN (below) states that there were several culture-specific events at Fashion Week – but we need to be more than just a cultural event, we need to be a top-notch fashion event. Depending on promotion as a cultural-event runs the risk of ‘ghettoizing’ Native fashion designers.

It is my hope that UNRESERVED will continue their effort in the years to come, and will host an actual ‘fashion show’ during NY Fashion Week. I also hope they will recognized the necessity to support the designers in building the infrastructural business side of their labels, so that when they do show at Bryant Park, the designers will be able to follow through with the responses (to fulfill orders) that will undoubtedly occur with a showing of Native fashion.

WSGN wrote:

This season we are seeing an increased number of country or culture-specific events. In this case, the American Indian alliance offered a look into the collections of a few very talented Native American designers.

Veronica and Dylan Poblano previewed a hand-created jewelry line in bright colors and traditional stone finishes and patterns.

Maya Stweart's bags combine modern aesthetics with traditional, Native American patterns and shapes.

Patricia Michaels offered a look into her line of women's clothing. Leather, silk and wool are used in unique ways to create contemporary-looking silhouettes with deep connection to Indian heritage.

WGSN focuses on the trends that the US, Central and South American teams are tracking now. WGSN publishes thousands of news and business stories each year, reacting to the events and issues in the fashion and style industries worldwide, predicting what will matter to industry professionals now and in the future.