Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week

Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week

2:29pm Jul 17, 2015
Designer Thom Browne says he usually shows his men's collections in Paris, but he felt it was important to support the first Fashion Week for men in New York.
Designer Thom Browne says he usually shows his men's collections in Paris, but he felt it was important to support the first Fashion Week for men in New York.
Jacki Lyden
  • Designer Thom Browne says he usually shows his men's collections in Paris, but he felt it was important to support the first Fashion Week for men in New York.

    Designer Thom Browne says he usually shows his men's collections in Paris, but he felt it was important to support the first Fashion Week for men in New York.

    Jacki Lyden

  • Buzzed-about designers Public School showed their collection in the form of a mock police lineup.

    Buzzed-about designers Public School showed their collection in the form of a mock police lineup.

    Jacki Lyden

  • Todd Snyder backstage during his show — the biggest one he has ever done.

    Todd Snyder backstage during his show — the biggest one he has ever done.

    Michael Loccisano / Getty Images

Men's fashion is having a huge moment: Higher sales, more designers, and now, the first-ever, stand-alone New York Fashion Week: Men's, which closes tonight.

Celebrated designer Thom Browne opened the week: "I do show my men's collection in Paris," he says. "But, it being the inaugural season for Men's Fashion Week here in New York, it was really important for me to be here and support men's fashion here in New York."

The very buzzy designers Public School showed their spring 2016 collection in a mock police lineup — Asian men, white men, black men, a Sikh wearing a turban, all side by side in front of an official-looking backdrop as an announcer beckoned each to step forward in turn.

Dao-Yi Chow is one of the co-founders of Public School, along with Maxwell Osborne. "We wanted to draw that parallel, where basically everyone is dressed the same, side by side," Chow says. "Everyone is the same. The message is about unity and solidarity, especially in these times."

To Chow, a New York City native, fashion can be social commentary. He and Osborne have been nurtured by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the fashion industry trade association that's putting on this show. This year, Chow and Osborne were named creative directors at DKNY.

One reason menswear is having such a significant moment? Social media. Bruce Pask, the men's fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman, says information makes for a confident and curious shopper. "I think that information has served to really educate and excite a male shopper. And I think that is great for the business in general."

The market-analysis firm Ibisworld says for menswear, sales in brick-and-mortar stores are growing 4 percent a year. Online, sales are even better: There's an average of 17 percent annual growth rate, each year, over the past five years — and the CFDA wants to take advantage of this.

In the past, menswear has shown with the women in September. Now, the designers get their own stand-alone event, complete with big-name sponsors like Amazon Fashion and Cadillac, who want to support American design.

No designer is more all-American than Todd Snyder. The Iowa native and former high school athlete is suddenly breaking out after 20 years in fashion. This week, he spent $75,000 putting on his biggest show ever, with a large audience and deep bench of international buyers and editors.

"I really wanted to make it the best I can, just because I felt that eyes are upon us and we need to represent the U.S. well. I feel like I'm in Olympic battle. You're always up against, you know, the Italians or the French or U.K. or Japan," he says. "It's always important to, like, show your best."

It's also important just to show up as a huge variety of people did: Athletes, musicians, actors ... and the people who dress them, like Memsor Kamarake, the stylist for the acclaimed actor Anthony Mackie, who plays the superhero Falcon in movies from Marvel Studios.

"I think it's great to check out the up-and-coming, bubbling talent. So I just love — if there's a name I don't know — to go and check it out. Because that's what my job is. It's my job to also help support the talent that's here in this city. Having such a wide range of talent on display just makes my job a ... lot easier," he says.

New York Fashion Week: Men's looks to become as hot a ticket as New York Fashion Week: Women's. It's not quite gender equity — womenswear is still much bigger — but it's a big leap forward.

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Men's fashion is having a huge moment. Higher sales, more designers, and this week, a first - Men's Fashion Week in New York. Just men this time. Here's designer Thom Browne.

THOM BROWNE: I do show my men's collection in Paris, but it being the inaugural season for Men's Fashion Week here in New York, it was really important for me to be here and to support men's fashion here in New York.

MONTAGNE: From "The Seams," an occasional series about clothing as culture, Jacki Lyden reports.

JACKI LYDEN, BYLINE: Black men, Asian men, white men, a guy in a turban, all stood side-by-side in front of what was designed to look like the wall of a police lineup.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Number one, step forward.

LYDEN: The models wore looks from the spring 2016 collection by Public School, one of the most buzzed about labels in the fashion industry right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Number two, step forward.

LYDEN: Dao-Yi Chow is the co-founder of Public School.

DAO-YI CHOW: So we wanted to draw that parallel where basically everyone is dressed the same, side by side. Everyone is the same. The message is about unity and solidarity, especially in these times.

LYDEN: To Chow, fashion is social commentary. He and his co-founder have been nurtured by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is putting on the event in New York - Men's Fashion Week. Public School has also been named the creative directors at DKNY this year. One reason menswear is having such a big moment - social media. Bruce Pask is the men's fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman.

BRUCE PASK: Information makes for a really confident and curious shopper. I think that information has served to really educate and excite a male shopper, and I think that is great for the business in general.

LYDEN: The market-analysis firm Ibisworld says that for menswear, sales in brick-and-mortar stores are growing at 4 percent a year. Online, sales are even better. There's an average growth rate of 17 percent, each year, over the past five years, and the CFDA wants to capitalize on this. In the past, menswear has shown with the women in September. Now, they get their own shows, with big sponsors like Amazon Fashion and Cadillac, who want to support American design. And no designer is more all-American than Todd Snyder. The Iowa native is suddenly breaking out after 20 years in fashion. This week, he spent $75,000 putting on his biggest show yet, with a large audience and deep bench of international buyers and editors.

TODD SNYDER: I really wanted to make it the best I can just because I felt eyes are upon us and we need to represent the U.S. well. I feel like I'm in Olympic battle. You're always up against the Italians, the French or U.K. or Japan. So it's always important to, like, show your best.

LYDEN: It's also important to show up, as a huge variety of people did - athletes, musicians, actors and the people who dress them, like Memsor Kamarake, the stylist for actor Anthony Mackie, who played Falcon in the last "Avengers" movie.

MEMSOR KAMARAKE: I think it's great to check out the up-and-coming, bubbling talent. So I just love if there's a name I don't know, to go and check it out. Having such a wide range of talents on display just makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

LYDEN: New York Fashion Week: Men's looks to become as hot a ticket as New York Fashion Week: Women. It's not quite gender equity. Womenswear is still a lot bigger, but it's a big leap forward. For NPR News, I'm Jacki Lyden.

MONTAGNE: And you can hear more from "The Seams" on its podcast, theseams.org. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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