Urban fashion: fashion in New York

Between chic territories, realms of cool and surlooked enclaves, New York fashion mapping that juggles identities.

How does New York dress? Very expensive and with a strong brilliance, if we are to believe the successful television series that shaped the imagination and styles from the years 2000 to 2010.

Carrie Bradshaw, the heroine of Sex and the city, and her friends, four “graduates” in their thirties, wander through Manhattan, dressed only in Manolo Blahnik pumps and draped in a thousand designer labels. Gossip Girl? A couple of high school students from the Upper East Side, the most posh corner of the metropolis, rob Chanel and co in their spare time.

An ultra-bourgeois city, consumerist as hell, a bit sexist – only girls, almost 100% white, would they be interested in clothes? – this is what these programs have radiated, of course far removed from what New York has always been: a city of diversity where fashion lovers know how to play with social strata; a city where it has always been the norm to show what you want from yourself, free and even crazy.

New York, a fashionable city

Isabelle, a handsome lawyer (left). / The Queensboro Bridge (right). DR

Early 2022 will during our visit against a background of Omicron variant, the New York of the fashionistas is not really present. Oh ! Granted, the luxury brands dear to Carrie Bradshaw still grace Madison Avenue and behind SoHo’s beautiful brick facades. But empty shop windows and billboards everywhere “Retail space for rent” (shop for rent) arose.

The huge shopping temple has left a lot of feathers in the pandemic. The opening ceremony, the country’s most popular ultra-modern multi-brand, has gone bankrupt. The same disastrous fate for the beautiful concept stores Totokaelo and Forty Five Ten, from Seattle and Dallas respectively. The New York branch of 10 Corso Como, the famous Grail of Milanese fashion, lasted less than two years!

All stay the same, always give the the of the time, Dover Street Market (DSM), the stall opened in London by the Japanese Rei Kawakubo (designer of Comme des Garçons) that showcases the best of the avant-garde on seven hyperscenographic floors. Among the colliding labels that have just been dubbed by DSM, that of Sintra Martins, a designer of barely 25 years, caused a stir at New York Fashion Week last year.

Let’s rest assured about the resilience of the city: even in times of commercial crisis, it remains eager for young talents to quickly disrupt the game. Born in California, adopted in New York since studying at Parsons – all the designers that matter come from this famous starGreenwich Village School of Design – Sintra Martins invents, under the banner of Saint Sintra, clothes in superpositions and idiosyncrasies, reminiscent of trips to Disneyland and evil stories, which certainly seduce pop stars (Olivia Rodrigo, Willow Smith…), but which are drawn “for all body types” (understand: not just for mannequin sizes).

Sandy Liang's shop in Chinatown (left).  / The neo-80s interior of the Panorama Room on Roosevelt Island (right).

Sandy Liang’s shop in Chinatown (left). / The neo-80s interior of the Panorama Room on Roosevelt Island (right). DR / Steve Freihon

after school she could have returned to Los Angeles, a show business city where fashion should not be outdone. “But in New York, fashion-wise, there’s an age-old expertise and ecosystem, she explains, while Europe, which I believe remains the beating heart of our business, is only six hours away from the time zone – compared to 12 for LA – facilitating communication with news agencies and buyers. There is also a culture of craftsmanship here: I work with manufacturers a few blocks from my studio. †

His studio, a handful of square meters which miraculously contains a large work table, mood boards (inspiration boards) and piles of fabrics, has been installed on the upper floors of an anonymous building in NoMad (north of Madison Square Park), the historic ready-to-wear district. Before the acronym NoMad marked its trend, this little square was first called The Ladies’ Mile, because New Yorkers got there in embroidery, corsets and toilets, then Garment District.

But since two hotels (the Ace Hotel and NoMad, which will reopen after renovation under the Soho House banner) High desirability has settled there, twig girls and creeper boys, all dressed in Michael Kors, crowding on sidewalks. A light bling theater rperformances that Sintra Martins watches with amusement: “It’s funny to see all those extremely chic and fashionable people who love big brands and shop at Saks – the famous luxury brand on Fifth Avenue. But I’m more interested in these very young New Yorkers, natives of Queens or the Bronx, who wear multi-pocket jackets and oversized boots, stacking one outfit after another with insane sophistication, without necessarily being aware of their incredible style. . †

And to add that what enchants him or at least gives a thousand faces to local fashion, it’s the seasonality of the climate – unlike LA, the city of perpetually good weather and year-round short sleeves. “Season” in the fashion world is not an empty word. Even if the collections multiply everywhere, fashion weeks biennially, spring-summer and fall-winter, with their deadlines and their specifications, remain the backbone of the industry.

Find treasures

Edward, the cook of vegetarian restaurant The Butcher's Daughter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (left).  / View of Chinatown, at the intersection between Forsyth Street and Hester Street (on the right).

Edward, the cook of vegetarian restaurant The Butcher’s Daughter in Williamsburg, Brooklyn (left). / View of Chinatown, at the intersection between Forsyth Street and Hester Street (on the right). DR

It is in particular “to escape this great tiring machine” that Brandon Giordano, formerly of designer Narciso Rodriguez’s team, along with her husband Collin Weber, James Veloria, James Veloria – James is Collin’s middle name, Veloria Brandon’s – the city’s most flamboyant thrift store – where you can find treasures from the 90s to 2000s, from Versace to Vivienne Westwood…

Irony of fashion and the eternal back and forth: “Many designers and stylists come to buy from us for inspiration! † – Humberto Leon, former Kenzo Co-Artistic Director and co-founder, along with Carol Lim, of Opening Ceremony, is a regular headline. James Veloria is symptomatic of a new geography of youNew York trends. It’s in Chinatown, at 75 East Broadway, that the two boys have been running a store since 2021. At first glance, this is a mall (shopping mall) a little blind, nestled right under the Manhattan Bridge – “As soon as a subway rolls over, all our walls vibrate”, Colin laughs.

its ground floor, typical of the neighborhood, is full of hardware stores, gardeners and Asian trinkets. Upstairs, surprise: In what appears to be former offices, experimental art galleries have taken up residence, a cherished label of the trendy, Eckhaus Latta, has set up its mini flagship shop and, amid it all, adorned with wigs and disco curtains, the shop from Brandon and Collin beams happily.

How surprising and exciting does this Chinatown now seem, where the popu intelligently mixes with the pointy, where the top and bottom of the range, good and bad taste flirt in merriment, where the New York of fashion and art offers, in short, a makeover! Whether you have a vegetarian lunch at Dimes, most in canteens, or in a Cantonese eatery, whether you’re tapping beers in Forgtmenot, a harbor that doesn’t look much, or that has a side handpicked awaits you at the Public Hotel, the new headquarters of artsy fauns, your eyes will be harpooned every minute by girls in cartoonish jackets, guys in leatherette skirts and other stunning looks. You might then tell yourself, as you walk down this Orchard Street, where fashion and design boutiques compete in inventiveness, that the neighborhood’s Chinese identity will soon be over…

The queer, disco and explosive boudoir of James Veloria, New York's premier vintage fashion store from the 90s and 2000s.

The queer, disco and explosive boudoir of James Veloria, New York’s premier vintage 90s fashion store
and 2000. DR

Not so fast! Among the addresses that count, at number 28, is that, all in concrete and sculptural bearings, from Sandy liang: The New York designer, himself of Chinese descent and a child of Queens, has become an essential visionary. A stone’s throw from his store, his father owns the Congee Village restaurant, a culinary institution in his native country.

More than at home, we start here with the minorities, even in the highest ranks. Can New York, through fashion, this industry of dreams and pageantry, make the gentrification pill run smoother? This is what we say to ourselves as we explore the Bed-Stuy (short for Bedford-Stuyvesant) neighborhood in Brooklyn. Originally poor and African-American, this lovely corner of ocher houses now enjoys a whole range of so-called creative professions, yes, but without blurring its identity too much. Because hotspots for aesthetes of all conditions form the link here and there.

At Kai Avent-deLeon, born in Bed-Stuy and founder of café-concept-store Sincerely Tommy, when we leave school we meet mothers of large families who stock up (vegan) delicacies for their toddlers, and visual artists who are looking for fashionable boots. As for Michael Graham, African-American stylist and creator of the store-showroom Savant Studios, he makes a point of offering pieces at fair prices that cleverly combine hip-hop, jazz, pop influences and resonate with the culture of the part.

This New York, where we design clothes “for all body types”where we love second-hand clothes as much for its peculiarities as for its ecological virtues, where the notions of masculine and feminine have faded, where we celebrate the hyper-local as well as the international, wouldn’t she quietly create the lifestyle of the future?

> Discover New York.

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