An Insider’s Guide: New York Fashion Week’s 12 Coolest Designers

Perrie Samotin

Diane von Furstenberg, Michael Kors, Carolina Herrera, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein. When it comes to New York Fashion Week, these are the names that the majority of fashion fans know and follow.

What many don’t know, however, is that there are around 350 designers that also show their collections alongside these well-established masters—at Lincoln Center’s Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week tents, at MADE at Milk Studios, and beyond—which distinguishes the New York schedule from other cities that have a major Fashion Week presence like Paris and Milan.

The reason for this has to do with New York’s unique attitude toward upstart talents and, for lack of a better phrase, a thriving “indie” community—something that’s not nurtured in cities like Paris and Milan, whose fashion weeks are dominated by old-guard labels and conservative scheduling, and for whom the “rising star” mentality just doesn’t exist.

Unique organizations such The Council of Fashion Designers of America might also contribute to New York’s receptiveness to upstarts, as one of the CFDA’s strongest initiatives is its Incubator program, which essentially provides selected up-and-coming designers with resources they need to grow and sustain their business, such as low-cost studio space and mentoring.

While it’s inaccurate to classify every under-the-radar label as as new or emerging, these upstarts are young and not nearly as commercial as say, a DVF or a Ralph Lauren—even if they’re often sold right alongside more established labels in department stores and boutiques.

That said, we’ve highlighted 12 of the city’s coolest labels, which are known to fashion insiders, but not as well known outside the city. While these brands may vary in terms of aesthetic, but there’s one thing they all have in common: an undeniable hip factor.

These are the voices that are setting a new tone inside the industry, influencing editors, street style stars, and an assortment of in-the-know celebrities, so click through the gallery above and get to know New York Fashion Week’s 12 coolest designers!

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