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There’s a good reason why New York Fashion Week isn’t the all important agenda-setter it once was, according to Rachel Tashjian, a fashion writer for The Washington Post. US consumers, she says, now take their fashion cues from influencers and social media as much as they do the runway. “Some of the more interesting things happening in American fashion are just outside of fashion week,” says Tashjian. “I just wonder if American designers feel like, is this [New York Fashion Week] really worth it for me to be doing? Is this where my audience is?”
This week on The BoF Podcast, Imran Amed, BoF’s founder and editor-in-chief, sits down with Tashjian to discuss her perspective on the state of the fashion industry today and her expectations for the evolution of NYFW in a post-Covid world.
- As some established brands look beyond NYFW to connect with customers to showcase their designs, Tashjian believes this shift has opened up space for emerging designers. “These smaller or more emerging brands are dominating [NYFW] because we don’t have a lot of the larger brands showing,” says Tashjian.
- That relationship will be seen up-close at NYFW this season, Tashjian predicts. Because of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike, which leaves actors unable to promote their films, Tashjian says celebrities will dominate the front row. “This is going to be kind of an unprecedented season in terms of celebrity presence at fashion week because, with the strikes going on, these are things that celebrities can promote these relationships that they have with fashion brands,” she says.
- How celebrities embrace fashion can impact how the public perceives them, as well, says Tashjian. “Fashion has this really interesting ability to recontextualise someone we think we know really well,” she says. “Margot Robbie during the Barbie Press tour, wearing these fun, campy Schiaparelli [looks] and hot pink Chanel. All of a sudden we’re thinking, ‘Oh, this is a woman who has a really fun and playful understanding of fashion.’”
- Tashjian believes the role of fashion criticism is different than it was in years past. “Perhaps because of the availability of fashion, we need critics more than ever before,” she says. “I think about my role as to provide an insider perspective or context. I was actually at this show and here’s how it felt to be sitting in that room.”
- Tashjian is also known for her industry-favourite newsletter, Opulent Tips, which she began when she was working at GQ as a space where she could discuss womenswear, product recommendations and smaller brands she admired. “I felt like it could be kind of fun to have a little space where I can talk about those things and maybe introduce those brands to some people who maybe wouldn’t come across them,” she says.