"Where's the youth in New York?!" cried one highly esteemed fashion critic as the mutterings that New York Fashion Week hasn't quite delivered on the excitement front, simmered in amongst the frow. It's not that it doesn't exist but as those that have experienced NYFW will know, it's just harder to be heard when there are about five bazillion shows going on in a week. A curious commenter on a previous post, chastised me for talking up New York's young guns where London's bright young things were clearly superior, but when you're spending more than a week in New York for fashion week, am I supposed to just moan n' groan about how boring it all is and call it a day? Just as it's annoying to pout and be snide about the current state of fashion and fantasise about the "good old days" when everyone was fainting at the feet of Monsieur Saint Laurent, it's also equally irritating to bash a city and paint a broad paintbrush over everyone and anyone. Instead ever the optimist, I have found a couple of fledglings that if not perfect, are at least attempting to create something of a scene in New York that answers that first question.
Whilst Made at Milk, the initiative that is akin to London's New Gen or Fashion East scheme, has done much to foster young talent, Milk Studios has become almost like a crowded nightspot, making it hard to appreciate the clothes in the limited time slots. Somewhere quieter, before the Marc by Marc Jacobs show, sisters Darlene and Lizzy Okpo presented their line William Okpo, which I've enthused about before, together with another newbie Comeforbreakfast. That's a name intriguing enough to entice anyone.
First up though William Okpo has been working on cute separates that feel rooted to New York. Inflections of American sportswear were worked into this collection with the varsity and basketball vests along side the neat n' prim combos of button-up shirts, working girl wide legged trousers and geometric print dresses. Day and night blurred together in oh-so-cute combos and when presented with the a three pronged bulbous bun hairdo and a Frida Kahlo-esque uni-brow, there was an awkwardness that was endearing.
What made this an even more rich cultural mix were the footwear. The Okpo girls have once against collaborated with Schier shoes, who make handmade "vellies" in Swakopmond, Namibia. What are vellies you ask? They're the predecessor to the modern day desert boot, first made in the 1600's. These Schier vellies were used to style the William Okpo models and Schier also had a little stand with some of their latest styles. I spy more than one pair that would satiate my never-ending desire for odd-looking comfy shoes.
William Okpo and Schier's current collaboration is available to order. Clear plastic. Desert boots. 'Nuff said. Just no bare feet please. That's just asking for weird condensation.
From homegrown New York designers to temporary transplant – next door, comeforbreakfast, a new Milan-based brand, made its NYFW debut. See what I mean when I say it's redundant to do the playground petty thing of "My city is better than your city"? When the world is this small and everyone from everywhere is choosing to make temporary show nests. Created in 2009 by Antonio Romano and Francesco Alagna, the duo wanted to create contemporary fashion with a high design content, something that more and more Italian labels are getting into (see the likes of MGSM). Comeforbreakfast is darker than MGSM's happy antics though, by the looks of their A/W 13-4 collection. Nature-derived prints in hues of mauve, olive and grey pair up well with the sombre outerwear and sporty sweatshirts. Offering both menswear and womenswear, Comeforbreakfast, although Milan-based, feels right at home in New York. Contemporary is huge in commercially-driven New York and although the market is saturated, there's definitely room for the more interesting strands of contempo wear.