Just one season ago, NYFW Men’s felt like a bit of an experiment. Now, it’s still an experiment (and clocking in at four days, not quite a “week”), though the designers seem to have unearthed new confidence, upping the ante from previously uninspired model line-ups to now unveiling fully styled, socially aware worlds.
Day one belonged to the emerging designers, among whom David Hart won the prize for “Finally a Collection Inspired by Black People, Actually Featuring Black People.” Hart drew his inspiration from jazz, specifically legends like Max Roach and Jimmy Smith with graphic lined cardigans and checkered blazers over mod turtlenecks. Lounging around ’50s-style dinette tables, male models drank coffee, while some played saxophones and trombones.
In a playing field that includes norm-challenging alt labels like Gypsy Sport, Nicopanda and Hood By Air, David Hart certainly isn’t the first to cast models of color. Given his relatively mainstream positioning on the fashion spectrum— with perennial offerings skewing to more traditional menswear—it’s a sign of change in the fashion industry, especially when other designers like Junya Watanabe and Valentino recently showed African-inspired collections with a white-washed model lineup. Since Black musicians in the ’50s blazed the trail for some, if not most, of our favorite contemporary artists, an homage was long overdue.