Should NYFW: Men’s Be Aligned with New York Fashion Week: The Shows?

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Men’s Fashion Month spring 2020 season is about to end, and while London, Milan, and Paris saw their celebrated slate of shows, New York Fashion Week: Men’s (NYFWM) spring 2020 season was lackluster collection of mostly emerging designers. As the NYFWM’s calendar gets slimmer and slimmer, many in the industry are asking if there is still a need, more importantly, a desire for NYFWM, and if NYFWM should be aligned with New York Fashion Week: The Shows [NYFWS]. This recent NYFWM season was moved by the CFDA to align with the women’s resort calendar in attempt to add more credibility. Didn’t work!! It appears that NYFWM is fallen off the fashion radar.

When NYFW: Men’s began it didn’t have the gravitas of some of the more distinguished international men’s Fashion Week’s—Milan, Paris, and even London. Still, NYFWM’s was a great way for independent and emerging designers to showcase their collection, and there was a small bevy of headlining menswear brands—John Varvatos, Todd Snyder, Tommy Hilfiger, Nautica, and Polo Ralph Lauren that added a level of prestige to the event.

Todd Synder fall 2018

This past NYFWM saw less than 20 shows, most of which were presentations featured at the annual New York Men’s Day. There was virtually no presence of international editors or buyers, and compared to past seasons, there was very little press coverage aside from WWD. Most of the mainstream American menswear brands have jumped ship, so to speak, leaving just a few unimpressive brands, mainly of whom, over a short period, fade into oblivion.

Fashion writer Alex Blynn believes that NYFW: Men’s is no longer necessary because, “gender in clothing is really going out of style and having a [Fashion Week] that’s specifically [men’s fashion] seems behind the times in some ways.”  Blynn added, “I think we’re all brave enough now in 2019 to have our fashion fully integrated, and to stop compartmentalizing everyone all the time …”

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Blynn pointed to the growing popularity of genderless brands, like Palomo Spain, who use mostly cisgender male models, but have many pieces that could be easily categorized in the traditional womenswear category. Blynn isn’t for completely ending NYFW: Men’s though, contending, “I think it still has a place for a core audience and consumers and is still an important event that shows incredibly talent and artistry.” However, like many, he isn’t so hopeful for its future.  

Vincent Lane, editor-in-chief of The Garnette Report, believes that NYFW: Men’s should “Just be combined with women’s because it hardly gets any recognition or press, they have very few limited days, and in addition they don’t put too much effort into the shows. People mostly fly out for [the women’s shows]. Menswear would be helped by mixing it with [the women’s shows].”

There are some fashion industry professionals on the opposite side of the coin who see NYFWM’s as a necessity for emerging menswear designers and that it should be a standalone as a fashion week. Style consultant Zoey Cross says, “We still need [NYFWM]. The interest has built around men’s fashion and the many different lanes of men’s fashion. [NYFWS] alone doesn’t give that opportunity for men’s designer. Menswear designers need an opportunity to show off their talents standalone and truly be appreciated.”

Custom wear designer and stylist Jevin Kinard also believes that NYFW: Men’s is still necessary but, “It needs more sponsorship and presence.” “If it continues under the lack luster disorganized course it’s on, I would say just end it overall.”

When NYFWM’s began it had a slate of impressive sponsors including Amazon and Cadillac, in addition to a main venue at Skylight Clarkson Square. Once it lost Amazon as a sponsor, as well as the main venue of Skylight Clarkson Square, it was all downhill from there.

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NYFWM’s is not without an audience. and for emerging US designers looking for a boost for their brands, it is a good place to present collections. Still, with NYFWS recently reducing its calendar to five days and five nights, as proposed by CFDA’s incoming chairman Tom Ford, incorporating NYFWM into NYFWS might not be a bad idea.  That is the way it was for several decades.

The future of NYFWM hangs in the balance as fashion continues to change. But as the late, great Diana Vreeland famously imbibed, “fashion is both now and next.” What’s next for NYFWM? Time will tell.

—Kristopher Fraser

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