At Last, New York Fashion Week Brings ‘Good News For Real People’

February 12, 2014

This year, the models on the runway at New York Fashion Week look downright comfortable — and Deborah Needleman, editor in chief of T: The New York Times Style Magazine, says that’s “good news for real people.”

In the semi-annual event, fashion editors and store buyers attend elaborate runway shows staged in tents at Lincoln Center and other locations around New York City. Designers present clothes to them that consumers may see in stores in the fall.

“I mean, a lot of what we see is spectacle and never really makes it into the stores or into women’s closets,” she tells NPR’s Renee Montagne. “But there is a trend that I think will filter into people’s lives and it’s much more about comfort than it has been in the past.”

Interview Highlights

On seeing comfy clothes on the runway

You saw it especially in The Row … a luxury brand designed by Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen. And they did a giant oversized sweater and then a oversized sweater-skirt that looks like if you were to lay down, you could just wrap it over yourself like a blanket and go to sleep. And we saw this at Derek Lam, Altuzarra — who’s a young designer — Prabal Gurung — who’s another young designer.

On women styles being inspired by men’s styles

It’s really interesting because I don’t think we’ve seen this many suits since the sort of power-suiting era of the ’80s. But what we’re not seeing — which is sort of a relief I think to real women — is very, very tight clothes and high-heeled shoes. Even from designers like Victoria Beckham who are known for dresses that are practically like Spanx in the form of a dress. Everything’s loosened up and a bit more comfortable.

… When Coco Chanel pioneered the idea of sort of menswear and trousers in the ’20s, it was sort of a reaction to … the war. Women had to wear trousers more, but she really hastened the trend. But it wasn’t about “dress like a man all the time.” But it was about a kind of freedom and flexibility in your daywear. And I think that is an enormous relief. So, these are trends I’m quite looking forward to.

On the quality of craftsmanship on display at this show

I think this could be a response to fast fashion. It’s so quick now — the time between [when] something is shown on the runway, and that it’s knocked off and it ends up at Zara or H&M at a much lower price. So I think if you’re dealing with suiting, you’re talking about quality men’s suiting fabric, great cuts, quality craftsmanship — these things are much harder to knock off than something with a lot of frills and embellishment.

On a new labor law that says models under 18 are considered child performers in the state of New York

It’s hard to tell, truthfully, because the older models [still] look fantastic! … When you see a 24-year-old model, she looks great. So this is one of those laws that you can’t believe wasn’t passed a long time ago.

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