NEW YORK — Designers & Agents, which ended its three-day run on Monday, continued its push of sustainable fashions as well as backing for Made in New York labels.
The show, which is held at Cedar Lake at 547 West 26th Street and the Starrett-Lehigh Building down the street at 601, promoted sustainability by calling out Green Leaf brands that are incorporating sustainable practices in the manufacturing and sourcing of their products, and Green Market labels that have produced the majority of their products through ecologically sensitive practices and/or fair trade affiliations.
The Designer & Agents’ Made in New York Collective also expanded its programs. In addition to offering select designers fully subsidized Made in New York-branded exhibition spaces last fall, a fashion manufacturing initiative, fashion production fund and fashion fellows for locally based designers have been initiated. In the weeks leading up to the D&A show, participating designers were able to attend dedicated workshops and seminars.
The diversity D&A is trying to achieve was evident at the booths.
Jazmin Chebar, a brand from Argentina, drew retailers with its funky, retro styles and bold colors, such as a shirtdress with lips printed all over the fabric, a paisley jumpsuit and short navy dress with decorated with metallic hearts and stars. The designer, who operates 30 stores in Argentina, is launching in the U.S., said Olarte Foussard, of the Circolo Showroom.
“We use silk and wool from Italy and everything is manufactured in Argentina,” she said. Chebar is known for her ornate outerwear, white rabbit fur vests with embellished patches and shearling coats with weighted leather sleeves. She also designs black leather slipdresses with red and purple slips and stars. Pajama pants and tops are $160 and $227, respectively, at wholesale; shearling and leather jackets, $658; puffer coats, $190, and tuxedo shirts, $210.
“I always like to come to this show because you always have new and emerging designers,” said Jennifer Dayan, the owner of I Found a Secret in Brooklyn. “It breaks up the monotony of the same thing all the time.”
Finding unusual items is key to Dayan, who said I Found a Secret is “a secret store, there’s no sign. We’ve been open for five years. I have a huge spectrum of brands such as Zadig & Voltaire and the Kooples, as well as a large collection of beachwear.”
Yumiko Tsushima, showroom sales manager for V-Room, sells its collection mainly in Japan at Barneys New York in Tokyo and specialty stores. The 15-year-old brand for men and women recently introduced a yoga collection for both sexes because “we had requests from clients to make yoga,” Tsushima said. The collection wholesales for $50 to $150. “This show started a little slower than in the past,” she said. “I feel the market overall in down.”
Carla Fernández, a label based on the geometry of indigenous Mexican textiles and techniques, works with communities of artisans to produce the collection. “Some traditional skills in Mexico are dwindling away,” said the brand’s rep. “Embroider and handwoven textiles are vanishing.”
A hand-dyed ikat dress, a black poncho with graphic white embroidery and a coat with buttons painted on the fabric, are examples of Carla Fernández’s approach to fashion. The designer operates six stores in Mexico City, with a seventh online to open.
“There were not many people coming in,” she said of the show. “It’s a fashion company, but it’s also a cultural agent.” Nonetheless, she sees sales picking up in the U.S. thanks to an exhibition of Fernández’ work at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.
The French husband-and-wife team behind Jack Gomme handbags, Paul Droulers and Sophie Renier, is looking to expand distribution to the U.S. The company operates two boutiques in Paris — in Les Halles and the Marais — and has six points of sale in Japan. “The bags come in 15 shapes and eight colors,” Renier said. “We use Italian Napa leather and a minimalist approach.” Wholesale prices range from $70 to $200.