Fashion always loves a moment, and none has captivated the industry quite so thoroughly in recent times as the ever-booming population of impressive young designers who have staked their flags proudly in Manhattan. Not a decade ago, the captains of industry were asking themselves who could revive American fashion in the eyes of the world, since the big guns of New York had grown stale, retired or expired, and Paris reclaimed the mantle as the place to be. A Paris Six emerged, as Cathy Horyn, fashion critic for The New York Times, noted in 2005, citing a small group of designers who held the most profound influence over global fashion at the moment, comparable to the Antwerp Six of the early 1990s, or the Japanese designers who dominated Paris in the two decades prior.
What is most exciting about what is happening in fashion now, however, is that it is not just six names who are making waves in New York, but an entire generation of designers who have the potential to transform what we think of as American fashion. The majority of designers showing during New York Fashion Week, which begins today, started their labels within the last decade, chasing the dream of fashion in a city that has not always been so hospitable to talented designers. In fact, very few who started here since the 1980s managed to survive.
Yet there are more new designers working in New York fashion than at any point in its history, a rush of tenderfeet that one can say with some certainty began in 2002, when Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, two students at Parsons the New School for Design, sold their senior collection to Barneys New York and became the toast of the industry with their label, Proenza Schouler. Their example changed the way young designers looked at their careers. They no longer had to apprentice for years or scream to be heard — New York was crazy for the new.