Gabriela Hearst RTW Fall 2018 and Marc Jacobs RTW Fall 2018

“I don’t know anything about American fashion! I don’t even think about American fashion. Everything for me is global. I sit around thinking how are we going to improve our sales in Asia and what are we going to do about Europe and why is the market dipping in this city or that city. I’ve never thought of myself as just an American designer.” Tom Ford

“American fashion has always been defined by the lifestyle brands like Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, Michael Kors and Tommy Hilfiger. These brands have the ability to sell anything, from underwear to evening gowns, in stores as diverse as T.J. Maxx to Bergdorf’s. American fashion has also dominated denim and streetwear, bridging pop culture with fashion. At Holt Renfrew, we have embraced American-born brands that have a global approach to fashion, like Rick Owens, Thom Browne and The Row, along with Raf Simons’ inspired reimagining of American style at Calvin Klein. We feel strongly about these brands as their European sensibility and directional aesthetic continue to resonate with both our male and female customers.” — Mario Grauso, president, Holt Renfrew

“When you think about the French or Italians or the British, there’s confidence. Like, ‘This is what Milan or London or Paris looks like and we’re confident in this.’ And for some reason New York is always like, ‘Uh I don’t know. Maybe we’re too commercial and it’s boring.’ Yes, that is true for a lot of work that is presented in New York, but I feel like to take that attitude….why be so down? There are really interesting things happening in this city, among the new people and the older brands. Look at what Marc Jacobs has been putting out the past two collections. It’s pretty awesome and wild.” — Mike Eckhaus, Eckhaus Latta

“[American fashion] lives without fear of offending, though sometimes lacks a strong message or identity.” — Ashley Petrie, merchandise director, Fred Segal

“I feel like America has been great at producing things like Warby Parker and Bonobos, and things like that that…disrupt the industry economically. But creatively, they’re stifling the industry, and they’re not offering anything new or exciting. I think there’s a huge push on VC and investors to repeat the success of Everlane and other size-fashion type of formulas where there’s no push on creativity. That’s a huge thing too. The Europeans really focus on creativity and storytelling and navigating the history via fashion and including that in their work. Whereas we’re figuring out how to make things easier and easier, duller and duller and cost-effective, because it’s like the Silicon Valley of creativity.” — Kerby Jean Raymond, Pyer Moss

“Creativity goes in phases, from when it’s at its height to periods where it’s less creative. At the moment we feel this is a time where U.S. designers and fashion houses are trying to figure out the next step to show their collections, to redefine the format to adapt to the new landscape.” — Sylvie Picquet, PR Consulting

New York Fashion Week has become very democratic, which is great for newness, but bad for quality control. It’s crowded [so it] doesn’t give any designer the platform to stand out.” — Lauren Santo Domingo, cofounder and chief brand officer, Moda Operandi

“When we talk about the state of American fashion today it’s really ‘world’ fashion we’re talking about. The influences and influencers driven and shared through the Internet have democratized and globalized fashion. And because of the speed and bombardment of all of these influences impacting all kinds of consumers, young designers today are more challenged than ever to create a strong identity for themselves and their brands and to sustain them over time.” Ralph Lauren

“To me, all this ‘competition’ against ‘the Europeans’ is all invented. I can see that it is frustrating to feel that the Paris season is seen as the international summit. Yet U.S. fashion in general should feel a certain triumph about taking sportswear (sneakers included) into such a forceful situation that an American influencer has become part of power brand Louis Vuitton.

“This may sound pretentious, coming from someone who has never lived in the U.S., but surely the discomfort in NY fashion compared to the energetic attitude on the West Coast must reflect the way your world is turning. My son lives and works in San Francisco for Google and he told me a decade ago that his suit was gathering mothballs and that his women colleagues also wore entirely casual clothes. I feel that the current look at Calvin Klein from Raf Simons could have been orchestrated from the beginning of the new Millennium.

“But in this digital age of start-ups and online purchases, is there any sense in talking about ‘American fashion’ or ‘London’ fashion? Surely it should be about individual creatives.” — Suzy Menkes, international Vogue editor

“I think American fashion could use a bit more formality and focus in the design studio. Right now, it feels that so many designers have given themselves over to streetwear, ath-leisure or whatever you want to call it, that dreaming up wonderfully transporting ideas has become a rarity. I don’t necessarily think I’m seeing designers’ visions but rather their interpretation of what consumers are already wearing — and not necessarily looking all that great in. American designers don’t seem to be as keen on challenging and pushing consumers to see beyond what’s right in front of them.” — Robin Givhan, fashion critic, The Washington Post

“The state of American fashion as opposed to the state of European fashion? I just wonder if fashion is going through a really bad cycle. This has come up so many times, so that’s why I asked whether it’s American fashion or fashion [in general]. I show in New York, and I know I’m considered an American fashion designer. In my head, I don’t know if I’m any different than anybody anywhere else. So the state of fashion? Do people buy anything anymore? Do people go to stores anymore? Do shows mean anything more than just a showing of clothes? I just don’t know.” Marc Jacobs

“On the whole, I’d say American fashion is facing an identity crisis. A lot of those cute young designers we all fluffed up for the past decade or so are starting to look a little tired or disillusioned, and the ones who have held on from previous generations hardly seem like they’re having all that much fun, either. The old notion of American style being about optimistic, practical sportswear seems sadly antiquated, and replaced by what? Marketing drops and disruption?” — Eric Wilson, fashion news director, InStyle Magazine

“Being a part of the industry here has taught us how to clarify and convey the messages we want to send as a brand, and as a result, we have a very clear vision. The feeling of independence and freedom in America also has enabled us to continue expanding the ways we work as creatives whether it be in filmmaking, writing or other areas of design and business. It has provided us a platform to be bold and to be fearless.

“However, with Rodarte we have also been heavily criticized as falling too far outside of the typical ready-to-wear context and not being commercial enough, which we feel is unfair. Fashion is a delicate balance of art and commerce, and we believe that brands should be celebrated for expressing alternative points of views and for diversifying what American fashion means.

“American fashion is very focused on commerce and we think that narrow focus can be oppressive. Brands that have thrived in Europe like Dries van Noten, or even Yohji [Yamamoto] in Japan, have always been given ample space to be creative. U.S. brands are sometimes strangled by the pressure to perform commercially, and that mold isn’t necessarily right for everyone. It’s not one size fits all. — Kate and Laura Mulleavy, Rodarte

“The fact that what you hear the most is that people feel that they’re in this rat race, this gerbil wheel that we’ve all built for ourselves. You could characterize American fashion as heavily dominated by brands that are completely faceless and driven by venture capitalists or private equity or whatever, or it’s driven by struggling brands that are trying to figure out: ‘I’m 22, I just graduated and I’ve been sold this idea that you, too, can start a line tomorrow.’ I’m not in either of those camps. I’m not burdened by the investors checking in on me, and I hate that these 21-years-olds are sold this bill of goods that they should open a collection tomorrow. I’m a big believer in going out and getting lots of life experience and applying that to opening a business.” — Amy Smilovic, Tibi

“American fashion brands are forward-thinking and open to change. We feel this is crucial to success in today’s world. There is an inherent sense of inclusivity in American fashion, and to us, that is one of the most important things for a brand.” — Kris and Laura Brock, Brock Collection

“We’re not just competing with our peers, we’re competing with everybody. Even a brand like Everlane is becoming competition. MM.LaFleur, for example, is seeing a lot of momentum. The consumer is choosing not just by price point or by designer brands anymore, she’s choosing from everything. The other aspect of it is that American designers are simply not trending in Europe right now. We simply cannot compete with the massive resources that the European houses have. We can’t afford the marketing dollars or the fancy trips, the extravagant sets or the celebrities. Some of the celebrities are on exclusive with the big brands, you know? So that’s been challenging. The other fact is that most of us buy our fabric from Italy and France, so by the time we sell our goods there, we’ve incurred double duty. We are more expensive than the luxury brands in their homelands. And from a customer point of view, they simply do not see the value. Not to ignore the fact that our taxation for imports is changing every week right now and it’s kind of making us very nervous.” — Jason Wu

“The whole industry is currently going through a change and is searching for what is relevant. Digital has transformed everything, from publishing to retail to communication, creating an immediate and direct link that has never been more far-reaching. The question becomes, how to best use this direct access? What is the most we can make of it?….What is most constructive is to accept that this is an introspective time and to be tolerant and patient with the needed experimentation.” — Julie Mannion, co-chairman, KCD

“I think that Americans are underrating their own fashion — in all senses. The history of American fashion and the tremendous world power of American style is no longer recognized by Americans themselves. They tried to become global players. They tried to combat European houses but at the same time we are losing what is quintessentially American….Nobody is proud enough of what you can call the Dapper Dan movement. The fact that Vogue-ing, hip-hop and rap now are at the steering wheels of luxury brands, activewear brands and so on — that’s amazing. What [Dapper Dan[] predicted with his clothes is now happening. It is a super sort of power takeover, which is very significant. Also, because it’s black. That is right now so important…when I walk in the streets of any city in the world, and I really analyze how people are dressed, the masses, you could say it’s so American — T–shirts, hoodies, shorts, jeans, checkered, it’s all there. Sometimes very well done, sometimes very shabby. So the inference is there but it doesn’t translate to a higher goal, a better memory, or rewriting of history.” — Li Edelkoort

“As an industry we are great at supporting, cultivating and launching new and young designers. Even though we excel at mentoring young talent, we also tend to push them into doing things that may not be the right fit for them at the moment. Such as producing very expensive fashion shows or trying to show their collections around the world right at the start.  We need to create a platform that is more sustainable for up-and-coming talent.”  Daniella Vitale, chief executive officer, Barneys New York

“What is very fun about New York is there are so many different kinds of people coming from all over the world. For example, a Korean seamstress may have a very delicate hand because there is something so specific about Korean fashion with its history. Sometimes they take a garment and make it in a completely different way than a European would. Or look at how Japanese people are working. It’s more flat — look at the work of Comme des Garçons. It’s so fascinating because they approach clothes in a completely different manner. That makes New York very rich. At Herrera, there were 80 people and 29 different nationalities.” — Hervé Pierre

“The U.S. is not only a center for design, but a hub for vibrant culture and constant evolution. Rather than avoiding change, American designers are at the forefront of embracing and pioneering new technology. You see this through Instagram and other digital platforms that allow us to directly and openly talk to our customers. It’s important to have a global vision as technology has allowed our audience to be hyper-connected across borders.” — Cynthia Rowley

“American fashion still has a sensibility that resonates on the sales floor and translates to higher margins and profitability, [but] falls short when it tries to emulate European fashion….[Our[ strength will always be denim. It’s our legacy. Denim and contemporary really best reflect the laid-back approach of the US, especially California. Ath-leisure is a perfect example of that. Veronica Beard is really nailing it in terms of what a woman wants—great fit, great quality, not too fussy. Mother Denim just keeps getting better. In the designer world, Monse, Oscar de la Renta, Altuzarra and Amiri speak directly to our customers’ needs, day to night.” — Elyse Walker

“American fashion is best in its display of contemporary brands with a very ‘on-trend’ feel. Right now there is also a good effort [made towards] diversity, which is a concept that is less developed in more traditional fashion weeks like Milan or Paris.” — Federica Montelli, head of fashion, Rinascente

“American fashion is in a major transformation period and a time of self-questioning, as individual brands but as well as a collective group. In the entire time that I have built my company, it’s taken me this long to have the sense of a designer community, which is something that I value a lot and was surprising. It comes at a time when people are self-reflective personally and professionally. But I’ve had more dialogue with my contemporaries than I’ve ever had in 17 years.” Zac Posen

“It seems as if there’s a new designer brand every day. Social media is making it possible to become an overnight sensation. However, there seems to be way more designers than there are shops to carry them [and] it’s a very difficult economy, so there will be a lot of attrition.” — Nanette Lepore

“We’re a little bit in shambles right now. I think people are moving fashion at a very fast pace…Everybody’s got their own point of view. Where is the designer has a specific look, a consistent point of view of who that person is?…Is Calvin Calvin anymore? It’s difficult for me to say. Is Ralph Ralph? Absolutely. Is Marc Marc? Yes. Marc is an artist. Marc has always been an artist. What is Marc? He’s about coming up with something that’s a wow. You know? He is a fashion artist. But what’s happening right now, you take T-shirts, put a label on it and sell it for god only knows what price. When my grandson is the one who’s buying fashion? He’s 13 years old and he tells me every single label. If that’s my market, I’m in trouble.” — Donna Karan

“There are always benefits of being a US-based creative because you’ll be surrounded by creatives and businesses from all over the world. America is definitely going through a lot of social and political changes right now, but change has always been a constant for Americans.” — Arby Li, editor in chief, Hypebeast

“The strengths of American fashion coincide with Bloomingdale’s signature business, which is contemporary fashion. Along with denim and casual at our contemporary core, the American industry has also created some great new fashion collections within the category.” — Frank Doroff, vice chairman, Bloomingdale’s

“Parlour X only buys Proenza Schouler and Calvin Klein from the U.S. I think they are the two best collections that fit into our offering. Calvin Klein is certainly at the forefront of desirability right now with Raf Simons at the creative helm. It’s positioned amongst the coolest, latest ‘it’ brands seen and worn by global street style stars who are setting the benchmarks for what is cool and coveted. We would gladly buy more brands from the U.S. if they fit in with our portfolio, but I don’t think there are any others of great interest right now.” — Eva Galambos, director and buyer, Parlour X, Australia

“The world has become a very small place. Brands from all over the world — Australia, Sweden, the U.K. — have become staples in everyone’s closets, and more than likely, the customer has no idea where the brand is designed or manufactured. Because of this, traditional American brands, with the exception of Levi’s and Ralph Lauren, need to think and create on a global plain and tell their story in a way that crosses all borders.” — Jane Siskin, Cinq à Sept

“The creativity is still superstrong in America in general. In the past three years, we’ve dedicated two of our exhibitions to the States: one on Brookyln and the [current one], focused on Los Angeles. Each time it’s a complete overview of the city, including, of course, fashion.” — Jennifer Cuvillier, style director, Le Bon Marché

“American fashion is a strong part of the overall fashion world and considered ‘cool.’ It represents the American way of life [to] the European customer. Big names such as Polo Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein, Seven (just to name a few), have created a striking visibility for American fashion all over the world. The strengths are the coolness, but [also] the authenticity and product knowledge, especially when it comes to denim.” — Torsten Stiewe, head of fashion buying, The KaDaWe Group, Berlin

“Very few people are actually doing a serious collection. I don’t mean to put anybody down, I just mean [doing something] very devoted to the standards and mantras that were collection — incredible workmanship, a full range of different categories, outerwear, eveningwear, daywear, knitwear. In Europe, a lot people continue to do [that], whether it’s Gucci or Givenchy or Balenciaga. There are far [fewer] people doing that now in America.

“Now, [there’s] street — youth, ath-leisure, athletic industrial kind of design, T-shirts and sweatshirts, that kind of look. At the same time, there’s the category of pure contemporary, which pretty much ticks all the boxes of merchandising. So you have the summer floral dresses that are cold-shoulder, the tunics, the mini dresses and bright colors for clubbing, jeans galore, crop pants and wide pants, the big ruffled sleeves. That’s not what Collection has been about, that I remember anyway.

Right now, you have the industrial, which I happen to like a lot, the silo of industrial unisex, police-type gear — neon, fluorescent, very Balenciaga-influenced but also riot gear, police, fireman. And also, techno sports — the Adidas, Knicks kind of thing.

And then you have ‘collection,’ which in most cases now looks relegated to eveningwear. In the old days, it meant [a full wardrobe. Still, there are certain people who try to maintain that [with] the expense and the excruciating journey that it is — the fabric development, the fittings. Collection has almost become the new couture, and I just don’t think that’s America. It’s probably true in Europe as well, but it’s very obvious here.” — Vera Wang

“This is an exceptionally important time to be a U.S.-based designer, with the growth of streetwear celebrating how the young/digital generation are finding ways to build new ideas of luxury. The U.S. is very much in a state of self-actualization and revolution. There is a real generational change happening [as people are] looking to push through the status quo and explore new territories. U.S. designers/brands are working to encourage and reflect these beliefs on a global scale.” — Mike Amiri

“There continues to be an excitement around American fashion. I am constantly looking for new and emerging brands. Last season we picked up Eckhaus Latta by design duo Mike Eckhaus and Zoe Latta, who explore a casual edit that veers toward the abstract while remaining wearable. We instantly collaborated with them as part of The Innovators and produced an exclusive capsule collection of items crafted entirely from deadstock material. It’s wonderful to find such emerging talent.” — Natalie Kingham, fashion and buying director at

“American fashion is in a state of change at the moment. It’s no secret that after the last few years the calendars and schedules have been changing and rotating. This is essentially a reflection of the state of the world today. Fashion is smaller. Technology has made fashion more accessible through social media to anyone anywhere in the world.” — Roopal Patel, fashion director, Saks Fifth Avenue

“America is a country of capitalism, consumerism and innovation. This is an exciting moment for brands. We have this amazing ability to reach customers and to be our own media vehicles via social media and social commerce and e-commerce. We have a strong voice and ability to express creativity in dynamic ways. Weakness comes when you resist change, operationally and creatively. Businesses need to rethink seasons, rethink deliveries, and we need to focus more on [fewer] sku’s and better product. As an industry, we need to transform Fashion Week to be geared directly to the consumer so that is generates business versus buzz.” — Stacey Bendet, Alice & Olivia

“The American spirit is entrepreneurial and eternally optimistic — that’s at the core of what we do as American innovators — but American fashion is in transition. Our DNA is rooted in the American sportswear tradition and bolstered by lifestyle — a concept created by American designers. For us, making beautiful things at accessible price points is what we do best. We should be proud of the creative, accessible fashion we create. Fashion has to be about honesty and authenticity.” Tory Burch

“As an American retailer known around the world, Saks supports and believes in American fashion and the exciting talent produced from NYFW. The American fashion community nurtures a wide range of talent — we look forward to seeing what this September brings.” Tracy Margolies, chief merchant, Saks Fifth Avenue

“We are enthusiastic about American fashion! American brands are smart about getting out there and sincerely wanting to get to know their customers. They understand American consumerism and know how to talk about their collections in a relatable way. They know that making a connection with customers and cultivating them is important. We are particularly supportive of American designers who are listening to customers and addressing the desire for having a broad range of sizes. Brandon Maxwell, Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera have made a point to focus on this, and we are making progress with many other designers.” — Tricia Smith, executive vice president and general merchandise manager, women’s apparel,  Nordstrom

“There is a social consciousness in American fashion today that is powerful. Designers and brands aren’t afraid to talk about diversity, politics, the environment. And to engage with the customer more than ever through direct and meaningful dialogue, with more transparency and more commitment from their favorite brands to define their core value system, and American fashion has responded.” — Wen Zhou, ceo, 3.1 Phillip Lim

“American sportswear, streetwear is very strong. I think we are playing a big role in sustainability and zero-waste in fashion, building an awareness of conservation. Where sustainability is concerned, we should take the lead. Not that we’re going to, but we should.” — Yeohlee Teng

“I have not seen any notable change in American fashion for the past few years. In a sense, this is what characterizes American fashion; it doesn’t change. Women are always practical…[dressing] in what they like and feel comfortable in. From time to time, I do meet Europeanized fashionistas in the US, but only rarely. It’s hard to find women who mix street trends with mode. On the other hand, American women are good at incorporating sports and outdoor wear into daily fashion. High-tech gear is effortlessly added oo daily styles, making this a big difference from Japanese women’s fashion.” — Yumi Sudo, director, Beams Boy, Tokyo

“Many of us American fashion designers embrace models and muses of all colors, shapes and sizes, genders and ages. For me, New York was always a beacon of my American dream, and now more than ever is a time to advocate for giving minorities a seat at the table. I hope to see this idea echo through our global fashion industry, because working together in solidarity is the best way we can bring change.” — Prabal Gurung

“We see that our customer is more educated on issues that impact the industry: There is strength now in questioning the story behind the clothes. The challenge or weakness is with so much information out there, how do we hold her attention? We work to offer compelling stories around the people and practices behind our brand and products.” — Eileen Fisher

“[American fashion] can sprout a small fashion creation into a big, global-scale business.…American brands are easy to understand.” — Kentaro Shishido, general manager, women’s merchandising, Isetan Shinjuku 

“I think we are all searching for ways to support young American talent and looking for a way to create a system that helps inspire creativity amidst increasing pressure to produce. And in a global economy where social media has blurred all boundaries I think we are wondering what makes something distinctly American, or if in fact, that question is even relevant anymore.” — Stellene Volandes, editor in chief, Town & Country

“Our garments tend to be more commercially viable and we care greatly about what the consumer wants to wear. American designers created and endorsed the streetwear phenomenon and put the collaborations of art, music, fashion and subcultures into all industry conversations.” — Jonathan Simkhai

“I feel our industry is in an extreme state of flux that offers myriad opportunities to change the status quo and reinvent. I find it amazing that an industry as creative as ours has allowed itself to become so stagnant and so entrenched in old, outdated ways of doing business.” — Tracy Reese

“I believe fashion worldwide is in a state of evolution dealing with the realities of a more digitally focused business and a changing consumer. I see American fashion in general as having an edge in many ways because of the wider distribution opportunities in the U.S. market.” — Josie Natori

“American fashion tends to reflect a distinctly American ease, simplicity and even accessibility. But moreover it taps into and expresses cultural values [of] American life. It is not about a set of rules or standards, but rather a reflection about what we value, how we see the world and how we live. It is dynamic and relevant, because it draws so heavily on a diverse set of cultural influences — class, race, gender identity, history, music, art, film, sport and technology. It doesn’t follow rules. Much like the American version of the English language, it is alive, changing, evolving with the speed of culture and currency. It is usage-based, not rules-based. I love that.” — Paul Gaudio, global senior vice president of creative direction and future, Adidas

“American fashion is having a moment. Having Raf Simons at the helm of Calvin Klein is one of the most exciting things about New York fashion right now. Then you have your core big businesses like Michael Kors, which have always been really prominent in the market. What we love is seeing the success of young designers like Jason Wu, Proenza Schouler and Gabriela Hearst. We are also excited about the new contemporary lines coming out of New York, such as Staud, Les Rêveries and Sies Marjan. This cool, new, young talent is really coming to the forefront and at Net-a-Porter we are able to really give them a platform to shine. Les Rêveries in particular has just launched as a brand and we are stocking their first ever collection exclusively.” — Elizabeth von der Goltz, global buying director, Net-a-Porter

“There is a certain ease with American fashion; it’s not always statement making but rather more runway to street. We’re seeing brands challenge the stereotypes behind American sportswear, but the styles are still wearable and straight forward, and they know exactly what the consumer wants. In Paris and London, as a contrast, there tend to be more unconventional emerging designers, and we see mainstream designers always challenging the trends and making new statements with what they send down the runway.” — Tiffany Hsu, fashion buying director,

“Prior to the Nineties, America’s iconic talents — Calvin, Ralph, Donna — followed a similar path. They came of age on Seventh Avenue, eventually coming out from behind the curtain to form their own labels that grew into empires. Designers were strongly endorsed by powerful magazine editors and a robust department store community, which had enormous influence over American consumers….Today, with the rise of social media and the diminished role of traditional magazines and retailers in influencing customers, fashion customers are finding the brands on their own terms. This has moved beyond the traditional Seventh Avenue model. Virgil Abloh, James Jebbia and Mike Amiri are among the disruptors. I thought that it was great that the CFDA started to recognize talent beyond those in the traditional Seventh Avenue archetype this year.” — Josh Schulman, president and ceo, Coach

“Fashion, like every other industry, is in the process of being ‘disrupted’ by Millennials and Gen Z. They don’t have any allegiance to anything legacy (media, retail, brand names). That’s dangerous for big, well-established brands, but possibly exciting for new ones. So what even is American fashion right now? I think we’re watching the industry figure that out. It needs more diversity. More size-inclusivity.” — Stella Bugbee, president and editor in chief, The Cut

“Something that’s very peculiar to me: If you look at the American designers who were around in the late Nineties, whether it’s Isaac [Mizrahi] or Todd Oldham or Daryl Kerrigan or Alice Roy, none of them were sustainable. There is this also weird question of — and I think it’s true across the industry though, not just in New York — like, where is the next generation of really solid creative talent, the kind of creative talent that moves the needle?” — Cathy Horyn, critic at large, The Cut at New York Magazine

“I would love to see larger scale companies engage with the next generation of talent in America, Telfar, Eckhaus Latta, Matthew Adams Dolan, Rodarte, etc. Big American brands do not take enough risks for fear of upsetting the apple cart; meanwhile they are losing the plot.” — Brian Phillips, founder, Black Frame

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