Some may still question New York’s “Capital of the World” cred, but when it comes to fashion the goldthread stitching on the sleeve is clear. The NYC fashion scene has long been the domain of the ingenious and the brazen who made its trend-setting street style famous worldwide. Today more international fashion companies and media are headquartered in New York than in Paris, Milan and London, combined. To paraphrase an iconic saying: “If they would wear you there, they’ll wear it everywhere!” This makes New York Fashion Week the most powerful fashion platform on Earth.
Fashion weeks are increasingly taken seriously for their cultural ambassadorship potential. Concept Korea is a popular annual showcase that introduces audiences to South Korean designers like Lie Sang Bong and Son Jung Wan as well as that country’s expanding production capacities. Arise Magazine runs a similarly successful African program at Mercedes Benz Fashion Week (MBFW), most notably presenting Ozwald Boateng.
The influx of non-American fashion week participants has additional rationale as well. As world migration patterns lead to an increase of urban populations with shared heritage, these communities demand familiar favorites and new takes on traditional styles. For example, buying power and tastes of Russians in New York reflect Russia’s reputation as a key emergent market for luxury spending. Companies that in the past may have been limited to indulging fashion nostalgia now find themselves as conduits between former USSR businesses looking to enter the U.S. market and American consumers interested in fresh international perspectives. Even big brands are taking notice: Just last week Salvatore Ferragamo flew in Moscovite it-girls Miroslava Duma and Elena Perminova to attend the soiree in honor of the Russia-influenced fall-winter 2012-13 collection.
While the Russian fashion scene continues to fascinate investors and buyers, little is known about country’s designers other than perhaps the Russia-born aspiring designer Dmitry Sholokhov, seen on the current 10th anniversary season of Project Runway. The gap is slowly being filled. Over the years, fashion-savvy New Yorkers have turned Boris Zuborev of the East Village Shoe Repair in St. Mark’s Place into a best kept street style secret. His customized sneakers and spray-painted pumps could be quietly spotted from invitation-only clubs to a W Magazine pages.
Designer Rubin Singer has made a name for himself with edgy evening wear worn by the likes of Beyonce and Heidi Klum and now offers an exclusive line at Neiman Marcus nationwide.
Yet Alexandre Plokhov is perhaps the hottest fashion phenomenon with Russian roots. After a highly publicized stint at Versace menswear and a short-lived but trend-savvy label Cloak, he launched his namesake brand in New York in 2010 and now sells at Barneys and other key style outposts. His menswear show at Milk Studios received a standing ovation by international and U.S. fashion editors yesterday, Sunday, Sept. 9. Last year, Katya Leonovich presented a well-received capsule collection at the coveted Lincoln Center tents of Mercedes Benz Fashion Week, and returns this season. Alexey Sorokin, one of St. Petersburg’s breakthrough young fashion stars, will present a womenswear collection with his brand Homo Consommatus during this week’s fashion festivities in town.
“Coming here is a reasonable next step given the kind of international attention we got presenting at home. I try to expect less in order to stay calm. I don’t like to share my plans, but I don’t let go of my ambitions,” says Sorokin.
You can get a virtual seat at Fashion Week and see new Russian fashion for yourself via the live stream of the Homo Consommatus show at the Runway@Pier57, available at NowFashion.com at 8 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Sept. 12.
Stephan Rabimov is founder and editor-in-chief and Alexey Timbul is editor-at-large of DEPESHA, a Russian expatriate lifestyle magazine, which is presenting Homo Consommatus in New York. DEPESHA also curates an American Program at Aurora Fashion Week in St. Petersburg, Russia, featuring the likes of Thom Browne.