September 13, 2013 12:32 pm

NY Fashion Week: Brands that follow fashion, rather than create it

J.Crew - Presentation - Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Spring 2014

J Crew

The fall of Lehman and the recession that came afterwards thrust brands with the ability to combine trend-savvy and price point into the spotlight and created an entirely new category, known as contemporary, that has been asserting its runway cred ever since.

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So this season there was Tory Burch, mining a 1960s Riviera vein with botanical scarf prints on little shift dresses, silvery brocade bottoms with lacy tops; here was J Crew, doing much the same (possibly too much the same), with bright floral capris and sequinned hibiscus pants, Moroccan print T-shirts and lemon yellow duffel coats.

There was Rag & Bone, where cricket sweaters met satin skirts and leather midriff tops came under men’s jackets; here was 3.1 Phillip Lim, with easy trousers embroidered like the inside of a geode under neat, curving jackets.

And there was Theyskens Theory, tripping a bit on its own styling with biker shorts under long sheer split skirts – though the elongated layering of tank tops and skinny skirts and underskirts was effective – while here was Helmut Lang, taking a step up with elegant hip-slung skirts and curving collarless jackets, colour-clocked tone-on-tone slipdresses and a restrained asymmetry.

In other words, the clothes were mostly good, and certainly customer-friendly. But in the end, while these brands follow fashion – in fact, they follow it very closely – they don’t create it; their skill is in recognising what to remix for their own ends. And perhaps, like the move afoot to separate commercial and investment banks, fashion week should recognise the difference.

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