A girl walks past Norlin Library in a cream sweater with beige sweatpants and a Northface backpack with Nike Blazers on; a guy steps out of class in the Engineering building in blue jeans with a black sweatshirt and brown converse; a teacher opens her classroom door in Eaton Humanities in a black and white checkered blazer, black slacks, and berry colored Michael Kors loafers. Each of these people on campus demonstrates the sheer impact of the fashion industry on students.
New York Fashion Week is more connected to the college lifestyle than we think. Brands hold power over newly emerging adults. Students all around campus can be seen sporting popular brands like Lululemon, Palace, and Lonely Ghost, among countless others. Along with brands, models like Kendall Jenner and Gigi Hadid are idols for many young women, influencing their day to day decisions about what to wear, whether or not they should go vegan and what music to listen to. Many of these models have a huge following on social media, Jenner and Hadid being at the very top of the list. From New York to Boulder, fashion week can open up new ideas and start trends, all which directly affect CU students.
“I definitely took subtle inspiration from the runway shows,” said sophomore Claire Bovard. “It’s so cool that major fashion trends will make their way down to college campuses and smaller communities.”
With appearances from evolving brands like Kim Shui to huge corporations like Louis Vuitton, New York Fashion Week 2021 had both fashion statements and social statements. Instead of just a focus on clothing and pieces on the runway, brands decided to take fashion a step further, vocalizing commitments to sustainability, body inclusivity and mental health. This year, New York Fashion Week did not only represent new trends and fashion statements, it represented Manhattan’s rebirth into the post-COVID world, giving society a reason to contemplate the question: what is so impactful about fashion shows?
Clothing is a prominent part of society, and as Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep) so bluntly puts it in Devil Wears Prada (2006), “that blue sweater represents millions of dollars and countless jobs, and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” A quick glance around campus proves that this statement is true. Many students, some who have dragged themselves to class in their pajamas, are totally unaware that the clothing they wear was designed and picked out specifically for them from high fashion brands whose ideas and designs made their way through the fashion industry.
Everything seen on the runways will trickle down through designers and brands that target students such as stores like Urban Outfitters and Princess Polly. The Urban Outfitters on Pearl St. in Boulder will soon contain remnants of NYFW 2021, inspiration from the runway and models who make appearances during the well-known week in September. This year many brands approached fashion week in a very relatable manner, creating trends that a wide range of people can wear.
“I feel like every day I am inspired by models and fashion on Instagram and other social media platforms,” said freshman Bella Sherry. “I mean, fashion has become so focused around social media and during important weeks like New York Fashion Week, celebrities like the Jenners or Gigi Hadid are utilizing platforms like TikTok and Instagram to consistently provide inspiration and ideas revolving around fashion week.”
Tom Ford presented a look inspired by “work-from-home” wear, showing off bedazzled loungewear dipped in Swarovski. Loungewear ran rampant on the runways this year, portraying “the New York woman” finally getting out of bed and stepping onto the New York streets in her bejeweled pajamas and a trench coat. Styles showcased on the runway this year emulated society post-Covid, connecting to everyone around the globe.
“I thought it was really cool that the brands involved made more relatable designs this year,” said junior Kelsey Schuster. “The comfier flairs on trends made me feel like I had a connection to the shows.”
The Tom Ford show this year helped students feel a connection to high fashion, something that most students cannot afford. Luxury lifestyle relating to and becoming something that is understood by everyone was a key part of the show. As the typical haute couture that is normally on the runway; complex trench coats and oddly shaped dresses, becomes something accessible and comprehensive, students can understand haute couture on a personal level.
Fashion week is advertised in many places, so when a CU student sees an ad for fashion week on instagram, they will subconsciously make notes about whatever outfit they see and analyze it. A month later, when they see a similar top on the Princess Polly website they may make that subconscious decision to purchase that item because they saw it during fashion week.
“I saw so much content from New York fashion week on Instagram,” said sophomore Liza Aranson. “It made me start brainstorming new outfit ideas and styles to experiment with even out of stuff from my own closet.”
Not only did NYFW reach out and connect to those emerging from the year of the pandemic, but brands like Collina Strada promoted themselves as platforms for social expression and awareness. Sustainability has been a huge focus in the past year, as Collina Strada displays reusable water bottles in place of purses and Bevza utilizes knitwear composed of recycled materials on the runway to promote a more sustainable environment and demonstrating that recycling can result in the production of beautiful art and clothing.
Along with climate justice, body image awareness made its way onto the runways. Christian Siriano defied body image standards as models of different shapes and sizes showed off burgeoning styles. Moschino featured models from an array of different backgrounds, including disabled transgender model Aaron Philip.
“Body image has evolved so much from what it used to be,” said sophomore Ella Glebe. “I don’t always keep up specifically with fashion events, but seeing differentiating body types on runways is really influential to a lot of peoples’ lives.”
All of these fashion statements, from post-pandemic pajamas becoming streetwear to dresses made out of recycled plastic, directly impact society, especially young adults and college students. Though there is still a long way to go, New York Fashion Week 2021 defied all expectations and gave a refreshing new look at America, an almost Spring-like feel as NYC reopens and fashion reappears on the runway.
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