Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week (NYFW) offered a peek into this year’s fall trends and a glimpse at celebrity style icons in their finest. But it also gave the world an opportunity to discover emerging fashion designers. These budding artists, after all, may be the future executives of tomorrow’s global luxury brands. (Not everyone gets their start as a Princess Diane of Fürstenberg.)
Throughout New York City, smaller designers like Christina Yi, Riza Manalo and Christian Benner debuted their looks. Also, the Council of Fashion Designers of America revealed new collections from its Fashion Incubator graduates on digitalfashionshows.com. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs hosted company launches all week to capitalize on NYFW’s global crowd, while electronic companies like Panasonic glammed up their tech brand for a fully loaded Beauty Bar at Salon SCK.
But what’s NYFW without a runway show? We skipped the tents of Lincoln Center and headed straight to Pier 59 in Chelsea, where the Nolcha Fashion Show was in full gear. In its seventh year, Nolcha Fashion Week events give independent designers a share of the spotlight during a week dominated by Oscar de la Renta, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs and other powerhouse brands.
How does a freshman designer survive among these titans? Nolcha’s collective fashion shows saves on show production expenses, such as lighting, stagehands and makeup crew. Its business model is about cost-efficiency, communal support – and signing up luxe sponsors, who can reach Nolcha's trendsetting demographic of editors, bloggers and celebrities during the runway shows.
“Our shows are more cost effective for the individual fashion designers due to our collaborative environment and our globally recognized sponsor brands providing finance support,” says Arthur Mandel, president of Nolcha.
Throughout the week, industry networking dinners and strategic partnerships for sponsored exhibitions give the budding designers full access to top-tier press, retailers and industry influencers. The Nolcha team also provides a full suite of social media and public relations support.
Most important, the various events give designers a crash course on establishing oneself as a high-end, luxury brand. “We teach fashion designers the valuable lesson of doing a runway show or presentation at industry standard and to the right audience,” says Kerry Bannigan, who co-founded Nolcha with Mandel. “It’s important when showcasing at a key time in the fashion market that the brands are professional to ensure brand awareness and growth.”
The closing Nolcha 2014 show featured: Jungwon (designer men's and women's rain coats), Gabrielle Arruda (women's ready-to-wear), L. Catherine London (women's ready-to-wear) and Nina Athanasiou (women's and men's couture). The finale was Dany Tabet (jaw-dropping ‘crystal warriors’ eveningwear) who, at the conclusion, took a teary-eyed bow.