2015 is the year that New York will join London, Milan, and Paris in having a specific week during the year dedicated solely to Men’s fashion. Historically, New York Fashion Week features both men and women’s styles, although criticisms have stated that female oriented fashion fills up the majority of the Fashion Week’s schedule.
Kelvin Downer, a merchandising liaison in the Flatiron District wears his hair in long braids and thinks that female oriented fashion doesn’t necessarily just dominate the majority of Fashion Week in New York, but perhaps even the creative output of designers themselves: “From what I’ve seen, American men’s wear is never as fresh, innovative, or stunning as women’s wear. I appreciate the efforts designers have been making but it always seems to be the same things. Nothing new really just suits, shirts, and pants. I mean En Noir literally featured a tank tops and pants.”
It seems that most American’s possess a narrow perception of men’s fashion, often reducing it to suits, dress shirts, and pants.
“Menswear is traditionally more utilitarian; whereas Women’s wear is more artistic. There is very little reason for women to wear 4″ heels, but a perfectly cut suit has purpose,” notes Fahad Huq who, from an early point in his college career, has shown a high interest in fashion. “Small scale designers tend to carry the Menswear torch.”
Yet, one must wonder if perhaps this is an idea that American fashion designers have accidentally perpetuated by putting men’s fashion second to women’s, or if it just takes longer for America to catch up in the fashion world. Consider that London started a separate Men’s Fashion Week almost three years ago. Why did it take New York, a similarly influential and populated fashion hub, so long?
“Compared to England, I really don’t think as many guys in America are interested in fashion,” answers Sajid Noor, who studies media and political science alongside exploring his interest men’s fashion. “I do think it’s changing now more than ever. So, I do believe the evolution is natural….but it had to start in Europe.”
However, is creating a separate week for men’s fashion even really all that necessary?
In terms of equal representation, Mark Halliburton, co-founder and CEO of the brand MPF (Money, Power, Female) expresses his thoughts. “Having a separate week for men’s fashion probably isn’t that necessary,” states Halliburton. “It is more than likely that everyone who has an interest in fashion will treat it as another NYFW. We’ll probably see men and women alike going to the shows and getting fly.”
Indeed, it does appear that most men who have a strong interest in fashion and NYFW already follow the regular Fashion Week schedule.
Perhaps, as Huq notes, the reason might have less to do with gender representation in fashion and more to do supply and demand: “The scale of designers is tipping at too rapid a rate to do both categories in the same week. The retail industry is also becoming more equalized; Men’s Ready-to-Wear saw the largest growth in revenue and one of the fastest expansion of product availability in decades.”
However, Alexander Prescott, who has worked retail for over a year at American Apparel questions the dichotomy created by separating Men and Women’s fashion. One of his concerns is, where does that leave transgendered people? He states: “I feel that separating the fashion weeks alienates people that don’t fully identify as male or female. It polarizers and labels fashion between genders—fashion is fashion.”
Nevertheless, the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) has decided that the period of July 13-16 will be spent promoting menswear designs for Spring/Summer 2016. Designer’s on board include: Tommy Hilfiger, Rag & Bone, Public School, Michael Kors, and Calvin Klein, with only more expected to sign up.
“American men are becoming more and more comfortable with the idea of being fashionable,” expresses Noor. “I think this is a push in right direction.”
Written by Susana Pereyra
Edited by Bridget Weigel