With so much attention being placed on the designers who have left New York Fashion Week, why not flip the script and hone in on the talents that are making a splash in Manhattan? You know, the young creatives that are pushing boundaries, building their businesses and making really, really good clothing. That’s exactly why we’re focusing on five new-ish designers who are debuting their collections in NYC this February.
You’ll note that we said new-ish, and not new. Some of these brands have been around for a couple of years and are now garnering buzz from fashion insiders. Others officially launched their collections just days ago. But all five of these are worth checking out—because among them could be the next Proenza Schouler or Altuzarra. Though, hopefully, they’ll choose to stay in NYC.
Maya Reik had a vision of starting a fashion line of her own for years. “I always loved fashion and art, and I always knew that I wanted to own my own brand. I was so focused on that dream that at 14 I started to take courses in fashion and worked in the industry for two years.” By 2015 she finally felt ready to strike out on her own and introduced Marei 1998—at the ripe age of 18. In fact, the numbers in the brand’s name are a nod to the young talent’s birth year.
With a focus on high-quality and clean lines, designs from Marei 1998 ooze luxury, but never in a garish way. Instead, the brand will surely become a go-to for millennials looking to find a modern update on their mother’s closet staples—think lush silk wrap dresses, faux mink coats and velvet trousers. Come 2018, Reik is finally ready to show her brand outside of Europe. But why choose New York, where she will be revealing the Fall 2018 range via private appointments? “My mother is a New Yorker and my family is there, so New York is like home to me,” the Israeli designer explained to Observer. While she reveals that showing at NYFW is a “major breakthrough” for Marei 1998, Reik surely must have been pleased when Bella Hadid was recently snapped by the paparazzi in one of her dove grey eco-fur coats.
The story behind the founding of Miaou is a tale as old as time. “I was making the perfect pair of jeans for myself, which accidentally turned into a business,” founder Alexia Elkaim explained. Now, she’s running one of those brands that seems to be worn by anyone who matters. Emily Ratajkowski wore a yellow plaid bustier and matching pants to a basketball game, Kaia Gerber took a mirror selfie in the brand’s signature trousers with extra-large grommets on the waistline. The list of famous fans goes on, including Bella and Gigi Hadid, Kendall Jenner and Selena Gomez.
However, for Elkaim, who describes her jeans in three words, “feminine, retro, fresh,” it’s the musicians who wear her designs that matter most. Most notably, she called out singers Jorja Smith, Lady Gaga and Kali Uchis, calling them the “female artists whose work I really respect.”
With a pop-up shop set to open in Nolita from February 9 to 11, showing at NYFW is a way for Elkaim to show just how much the world of Miaou has grown. “We’ve come a long way from a single pair of jeans,” she noted. Indeed, the brand now offers a full range of teeny dresses, crop tops and matching bottoms, kicky printed pants and cool, casual jackets. It just goes to show the power of blue jeans.
Foo and Foo
In addition to producing modern streetwear, Foo and Foo is an interactive web platform, where graphic t-shirts and sweatshirts from the brand are sold alongside art, including a vintage issue of Playboy and a salt rock from the Mojave Desert, each of which is offered alongside some thoughtful commentary. The site is also packed with various videos and graphics to discover and devour.
“I guess it means that I really am a fashion brand, but more than anything I see it as an opportunity to show my vision,” said founder and designer Elizabeth Hilfiger of her first New York Fashion Week show. Now just a year old, Foo and Foo is making the sort of playful and relevant clothes that are entirely necessary for 2018. Consider the Tattoo shirt, that allows the wearer to flip the hem up to reveal a Foo and Foo logo; it can be held in place by stringing a few piercings through the eyelets, placed exactly for that reason. Or the No No No Tee, that reads “No sexism, no racism, no homophobia, no xenophobia. Love over fear.”
Yes, Hilfiger happens to be the daughter of venerable Americana designer Tommy Hilfiger, but this young creative is certainly forging a path of her own—and remaining humble along the way. “I was in a store the other day wearing a Foo and Foo hoodie and someone came up to me and was like, ‘Where did you get your hoodie?!’ I couldn’t stop smiling for like an hour after,” the Rhode Island School of Design graduate admitted.
LAND of Distraction
Kate Bosworth and Jaime King were in attendance at Land of Distraction‘s soft launch at the Chateau Marmont in November 2017, when the brand made its global debut. Country star Nikki Lane delivered a live performance and needless to say, it was a launch to be remembered. In New York, Land of Distraction will have a much quieter unveiling, as they hosted a private viewing of their range for editors the day before Fashion Week. But Danita Short, the brand’s CEO and Executive Creative Director, was equally excited for this moment.
“With the launch of our website in February, the timing is perfect. New York remains a major fashion hub and provides a foundation for future interest in the international market which we hope to see the brand move toward as we grow,” she told Observer. With a mission to “empower women and help them express themselves using fashion as a vehicle,” her first collection is packed with supersized corduroy coats, sleek leather overalls and satin Western shirts in loud, punchy colors and bold silhouettes. They’re the kind of unfussy clothes you want to fill your closet with—and actually wear.
The meaning behind Land of Distraction’s name is quite deep: “We wanted something bigger than a fashion house, so we decided to launch a Land of our own and create subcultures or categories within it,” explained Short. “The Distraction part is more about being spontaneous and not focusing on the mundane details of everyday life.” Which actually sounds like a brilliant way to approach getting dressed every day.
Laurence & Chico
New York is a bit of a sweet spot for designers Laurence Li and Chico Wang. The Canadian design duo (who are also a married couple) met here while studying at Parsons School of Design. Wang comes to the table with a fashion design background and prior gigs at Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, Miu Miu and Lane Crawford. Meanwhile, Li comes from a fashion marketing standpoint, having worked at Barneys previously.
Now, Laurence & Chico, in their third season on the NYFW calendar, are known for shows that are a treat for the eyes, with bright pops of color, plenty of textures and heavily embellished everything. A focus on visual impact has always been the cornerstone of the brand. “While studying and living together in NYC, Wang decided to print Li’s illustrations onto postcards to see how the public would react and to their surprise, it was received very warmly and all the postcards were sold,” the duo excitedly told us via email. To this day, all of the prints in the collections are hand-drawn by Li.
However, expect to see Laurence & Chico take over more than just your wardrobe. “We are most excited to debut our cosmetics line as well as our home and décor line—we are fully evolving Laurence & Chico in a lifestyle brand, not just clothing!” the designers explained. It is, indeed, a great reason to celebrate.