New York Fashion Week:How Independent Designers are using different platforms to showcase their talent - I WANT THAT WHOLE LOOK

New York Fashion Week:How Independent Designers are using different platforms to showcase their talent

“They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”
– Andy Warhol

Whenever I thought of New York Fashion Week, I always visualized Bryant Park and Lincoln Center. For a while New York Fashion Week was associated only with big designer names such as Ralph Lauren, Donna Karan, Vera Wang, the list goes on and on. It made sense because these venues are so expensive on-top of other production costs. So before if you were an independent designer or an emerging one, despite your talent all you could do was keep dreaming of one day making it big enough to afford to show your work at NYFW. However times have really changed. We are now living in an era where people are so innovative in creating disruptive platforms that are breaking major barriers. Think YouTube, Uber, Airbnb, and Whatsapp, just to name a few. These platforms are making it possible for imminent success to be within reach if you are prepared to handle the moment of opportunity, as Oprah would say.

This is exactly what one independent designer, David Alford, locally based in Harare, Zimbabwe did. He seized the opportunity to be among the few carefully selected independent designers to showcase their designs through Oxford Fashion Studio. Which was founded by Carl Anglim, who is also the owner and founder of Oxford Fashion Week. Oxford Fashion Studio has been producing and curating international fashion shows since 2009 that coincide with New York Fashion Week, London Fashion Week, and Paris Fashion Week. In my opinion Oxford fashion Studio, and many other organizations like it, are the new fairy god mothers for these emerging fashion designers. They are giving these independent designers from all across the globe an opportunity to attend the ball i.e Fashion Week.

David Alford and his model wearing a digital print satin dress from his Autumn /Winter 2017 collection titled "On the Precipice" Image by J Leo Restrepo

Why in particular did I single out this specific designer among the rest you might ask. Well, you see I am also from Zimbabwe, specifically Harare where David's studio is located. So having a designer from Harare, Zimbabwe showcase their work and represent the nation as whole was a big deal for me. He is actually the first locally based designer from Zimbabwe to showcase at New York Fashion Week. When his team  reached out to me and invited me to be be a guest at the show, I did not even think twice about going despite being located in Dallas, Texas.

This was also my first time at New York Fashion Week, so I really did not know what to expect. I attended the 5 P.M show on the 11th of February at Studio 450. I must say that I was very impressed by how well the show was organized and all the collections that I saw. These were some of my favorite.

Zimbabwe Designer David Alford's Collection "On The Precipice"

Nigerian Designers Gozel Green's Collection "Igbo Mask" 

 Twin sisters, Sylvia Enekwe and Olivia Okoji, the designers behind Gozel Green.

USA Designer Matt Sarafa's Collection "Fake"

Panama Designer Leotards SA's Collection "Panama"

Lithunia Designer Leg Code's Collection "Colours"

In my opinion I actually think that these fashion events outside the main NYFW venues might be so much more interesting than the big ones. I say this because a lot of these independent designers are not yet widely known. This might be their only opportunity to show the world their talent and their point of view. So they give it all they have, with heart and passion. Whereas for the established fashion houses the drive is certainly not the same.  Similar, in the sense that they all want to sell clothes, but different because for the established fashion houses, it's just another major fashion show production done once or twice a year.

“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all my heart.”― Vincent Van Gogh

I spoke to David after the show and one of the questions I asked him was about how he presented himself at both NYFW and in general. Either as a British designer based in Zimbabwe or a designer from Zimbabwe. This is what he said, "I don't really determine myself as a designer of a particular nationality. I am not sure any designer does. I think it can lead to your work being placed within stereotypes, and boxes. However since beginning my work in Harare, I have definitely been adopted by Zimbabweans as a Zimbabwean designer, something I do not shy away from."

I also asked him about working with Oxford Fashion Studio and how his collection was received at the show. He said, "Working with OFS was a great experience. It was very organised and professional. Responses are still coming in from our collection in New York, the response from the show was fantastic and something I wasn't expecting. I think this will definitely give me confidence in knowing I am taking the brand in the right direction." 

So if you are an independent designer out there dreaming of one day of showing your work at New York Fashion Week one day, the possibility of that happening is now higher than ever before. Work hard and be prepared to make your mark when the opportunity presents itself. 

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