New York brings a much-needed sense of positivity and some new ideas about sustainability to the fashion scene of spring/summer 2020.
The past year or so has seen quite a few fashion institutions of New York close shop. After filing for bankruptcy in 2019, Barney’s New York—once a trendsetter in the Big Apple and beyond—shuttered all of its stores near the end of February 2020. Meanwhile, from the ranks of the city’s designers, Zac Posen closed his brand. In short, there’s a lot of upheaval in New York City.
For spring/summer 2020, however, the city that never sleeps saw some names return to the fray, both at New York Fashion Week and in the city’s fashion scene at large. Quite notable among the season’s returnees is Duckie Brown, who last held a runway show all the way back in 2016. Rather appropriately, designer duo Steven Cox and Daniel Silver presented pieces that might not exactly shine on the runway but are perfect for everyday wear. There were trench coats, drop-sleeve button-down shirts, Crombie-style coats and drop-crotch pants. “Practicality” seems to be the keyword for Duckie Brown this time around.
Another returning figure this season is none other than Willy Chavarria. For this spring collection, he introduced a mix of minimalism inspired in part by the party scene during the ’90s and a healthy dose of gender fluidity that wasn’t androgynous or completely genderless. These concepts were then realized in black mesh shirts, long jackets in black satin, jeans in extra-processed washes followed by pieces designed in collaboration with tennis brand K-Swiss that featured a strong ’80s vibe and plenty of layering. A particular standout from Chavarria’s collection this season was a top with the words “Breaking News” plastered across it—a nod to the evolution of news cycles in today’s hyperconnected world.
Introducing what seems like a more laidback approach to style is Kozaburo, brainchild of Kozaburo Akasaka, a Tokyo-born but now Brooklyn-based designer. This spring/summer collection was inspired by two of Kozaburo’s longtime interests: landscaping and architecture. Of the pieces, he said that “this is my wardrobe, if I was a landscape artist.” There were T-shirts, tracksuits, nylon shorts and anoraks. Sportswear was definitely a huge element here. But there were also the sensibilities of one who likes to work with the land, as seen in the choice of material that included organic cotton, recycled polyester and Kaya—a homespun hemp fabric historically used in Japan for mosquito nets.
Now, while the drive towards environmentally-friendly fashion can be rather challenging, the steps can appear to be rather straightforward: Upcycle and recycle material, use responsibly-sourced organic fabrics, reduce waste, etc. But there are other ways to achieve sustainable fashion, as demonstrated for this season by Abasi Rosborough. Designers Abdul Abasi and Greg Rosborough delved deep into the world of virtual reality and now they do most—up to 99-percent, apparently—of their design work virtually. So, as the duo experiment with various silhouettes, cuts and materials, no fabric is wasted.
The highlight of Abasi Rosborough’s spring/summer 2020 collection were a series of navy suits, including the brand’s famed curvy blazer. On the other end of the spectrum were variations in leather and jacquard along with sporty options like a cobalt parka and satin bomber jacket. Interestingly, there were also notable Easter influences in the duo’s design, from Kimono-style vests to detailing in the wraps. As a final touch, to balance out the somewhat artificial aspect of the design process, Abasi and Rosborough used only natural fibers such as cotton, wool, cashmere and linen in their spring/summer collection, thereby mixing traditional material with a futuristic approach to designing clothes.
“It wouldn’t be a fashion week in New York without a strong showing of preppy Americana. And the designers of the Big Apple had plenty of that”
Of course, it wouldn’t be a fashion week in New York without a strong showing of preppy Americana. And the designers of the Big Apple had plenty of that. Todd Snyder, for one, had an impressive array of polos, tracksuits and even leisure suits. The brand also showcased bowling shirts in the style of the ’50s, flared jeans and an assortment of jewelry pieces. All in all, it had a strong thrift store feel to it, which made for an interesting addition to the more refined vibe that permeated a big chunck of New York Fashion Week.
Meanwhile, for Coach 1941, Stuart Vevers steered away from his usual fare of western-inspired apparel and vintage ’60s style to embrace a truly New York state of mind. New York in the ’80s, to be exact. Quite appropriately, and to the delight of many fashion enthusiasts with a soft spot for the decade, a particular highlight of Coach’s show were the T-shirts and tank tops emblazoned with some of the biggest stars of the era, from Michael J. Fox and Rob Lowe to Barbra Streisand. The jackets and trench coats were also a joyous celebration of the decade.
As spring/summer collections from designers all over the world arrive at stores and boutiques while we reminisce about the shows where they were uncovered, it’s hard to miss all the subtle—and sometimes not-so-subtle—signs that something’s amiss in fashion. And in the world as a whole. This feeling is perhaps particularly palpable in the United States. That being said, this season’s New York Fashion Week has also been a reminder that fashion can inspire some much-needed positivity. And for that, we turn to Michael Kors.
For his spring/summer 2020 creations, Michael Kors was inspired by a visit to Ellis Island where he learned about the arrival of his grandparents to the country, which ignited a renewed sense of patriotism in the designer. The resulting collection is an exploration of American sportswear with a strong nod to the ’40s—a time, some would argue the last time, when the United States was undoubtedly united. Color-wise, there were plenty of bright hues and prints, but the primary palette was red, white and blue. A generous sprinkling of military details further enhanced the patriotic tone of the collection and its ’40s vibe.
“This season’s New York Fashion Week has also been a reminder that fashion can inspire some much-needed positivity. And for that, we turn to Michael Kors”
What really showed Kors’ masterful touch, however, was how he adapted all those vintage silhouettes into something contemporary. This he achieved through the addition of metal studs, star-and-anchor embroidery, and readjusted classic cuts. And perhaps most notably, Kors showcased two cashmere sweaters with the word “hate” crossed out. If anything, this seemingly simple sartorial choice certainly encapsulated a universal hope of humanity today.
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