New York Fashion Week Recap: Ethical Fashion on the Rise

© Bernd Untiedt, Germany January 2005 Brother Vellies AW16 © Magnifeco Chromat @ Mellie Davis, The Fat Apple Mara Hoffman © Ari Seth Cohen, Advanced Style Ulla Johnson © Esther Langham TOME © Serichai Traipoom

By Kate | Women
Posted Feb 17, 2016

In what could be the last traditional runway week for NYFW, the city, the shows and the fashion did not disappoint. In what could be foreshadowing for ‘seasonless’ fashion, the weather offered the complete range: reaching record lows on Sunday, followed by a snowy Monday and temperate downpours on Tuesday, allowing bloggers and fashionistas to show off their fall and winter packing skills. And, when it came to fashion, particularly ethical fashion, we were not disappointed.

The week began with CFDA/Vogue fashion finalist Brother Vellies and her interpretation of Where the Wild Things Are. Always on point, Brother Vellies is constantly pushing the envelope towards sustainability, this time bringing in NYC-based Artifact Textiles to weave a one-of-a-kind poncho from production scraps (already on sale at Moda Operandi).

Other shows that stood out: Chromat, once again pushed the ideals of conventional beauty in a runway show with models representing all forms of beauty. Mara Hoffman did the same, including Advanced Style star Ilona Royce Smithkin in her presentation. Ulla Johnson‘s color palette wowed, highlighting artisan work by weaving naturally dyed tassels into her model’s braids. Sustainable luxury brand Maiyet had a star-studded show that saw Susy Menkes (Vogue) and Vanessa Freidman (NYTimes), sharing front row seating with the Quann Sisters, Man Repeller, The Glamourai and more.

In their first seasons as members of the new CFDA + Lexus Fashion* Initiative: Nicholas K, Prabal Gurung, TOME and Zero + Maria Cornejo all showed (Brother Vellies is also in the Initiative). Established by the CFDA and Lexus, with an eye to meaningful change in American fashion and elevating sustainability in apparel, jewelry, and accessories, the initiative focuses on responsible sourcing, ethical manufacturing, supply chain transparency, scalable business strategies, and consumer literacies. Expect these brands to all up-their ethical game in coming months.

While complaints about location still plague the IMG run New York Fashion Week (now in its second season away from Lincoln Centre), the bigger topic was relevance: are fashion week and the fashion calendar passé? Ethical fashion designers have been claiming this for years, but in December 2015, according to WWD, the CFDA began working with the Boston Consulting Group to fix what it describes as ‘a broken system’. Tom Ford seemed to agree canceling his show, opting to wait until  September – when the clothing will be available for sale. This season saw other brands scramble to create direct-from-show digital offerings or pre-sales to appeal to consumers and the blogger-fed demand for immediacy. Is this the end of  NYFW? No, probably not. But definitely a reboot is on the horizon and hopefully the bright stars creating ethical fashion will lead the way.

For more from the front row – check out out our instafeed

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