LOS ANGELES — L.A.’s weekend fashion moment: Was it just a blip on the radar or did it mark a sea change?
There was nary a consensus as to what Los Angeles means to the fashion world as day two of Made L.A.’s premiere wound down Saturday at the L.A. Live Event Deck in downtown. The celebrity-fueled environment accompanying Friday’s colorful Moschino runway show and Jeremy Scott-hosted after party gave way to a crowd donning streetwear-inspired looks and hipster garb for the Hood By Air and Golf Wang presentations.
“We set out to create a fashion event in L.A. that is ultimately authentic to the fashion culture here…music, art, pop culture. Between Moschino, Golf Wang, MAC and Ford Fusion, we had a unique mix of shows, content and brand activations,” said Barnett Zitron, Made’s managing director, who confirmed that the event would return. “Next year’s event will reflect what’s relevant from the fashion and entertainment perspectives next year. The basic structure of tentpole shows plus The Stores will stay the same, and the cast of designers will evolve like it does during Made Fashion Week in NYC.”
If celebrity is any indication of viability, then the sold-out event was a success, attracting Katy Perry, Kanye West, Kendall Jenner, Christina Milian, Vanessa Hudgens, Cindy Crawford, Caitlyn Jenner and Solange Knowles over the two-day event. The city’s heightened profile — not just for the fashion world but also in art, cuisine, music and technology — is now drawing celebrities beyond awards-show red carpets.
The final show of the weekend was the first-ever runway presentation by Golf Wang, the sportswear line by hip-hop artist and producer Tyler, The Creator, whose given name is Tyler Gregory Okonma. The 25-year-old’s rabid following was evidenced by the standing-room-only show in the main tent, where Moschino showed the night before.
It opened with a performance art piece featuring Okonma that segued into him opening the “door” to his apartment-cum-runway for his friends/models, who strode in wearing his preppy-meets-street looks. The flower-lined runway circled around a skateboard pit, where models performed a few tricks as others, including the artist himself, modeled looks and rode mini-motorbikes on the runway. Okonma then performed a song and during the show’s finale, hugged each model before taking his bow and the mic. “Growing up as an inner-city black kid, I wasn’t the most masculine, I wasn’t into sports…and growing up liking pink and colors and patterns wasn’t cool. But luckily I have people around me who trust me and allow me to keep pushing my sh-t. I don’t really know sh-t about fashion, I just know I like making clothes just like I like making music.”
Okonma then broke fashion news onstage, telling the crowd he’s launching a shoe line called Golf LaFleur. After beckoning West to the stage to thank him for coming and calling him “a beautiful human,” Okonma told the crowd that everyone who purchased a ticket would get a free pair of shoes. The resulting Oprah-style mania, as he ran around yelling, “You get a shoe! And you get a shoe!” was a fitting closer for an entertainer, and proof that the sportswear lines designed by entertainers make for entertaining fashion presentations, if nothing else.
The takeaway: the future of the runway — at least in L.A., the global center of celebrity — may be as a place for cultural experiences, like that of Golf Wang, to explain clothing’s relevance to music, art and technology for a new generation of shoppers who now take their fashion cues from largely brand-agnostic bloggers and the streets as much as from designers.
Shayne Oliver may have been the most unconventional of the three Made L.A. presentations in the showing of his “Hallways” collection for Hood by Air. Guests filtered into a smoke-filled room where a dirt mound sat in the center. With the smell of marijuana thick in the air and blinking lights, viewers were taken into a dreamlike state that gave way to musician Sean Bowie — also know as Yves Tumor — who began his performance gyrating, falling and sometimes throwing dirt as the models came out, bumping into one another, kicking up dirt and dancing to the beat before bemused onlookers.
A slightly more traditional presentation streamed online with the collection available for pre-order on the HBA site, for September delivery. The collection was loud, brash and heavy with details such as zippers and drawstrings. There was a black crewneck pullover with sleeves that stretched to the floor to fit the words “Minority Movement,” red PVC flare-leg pants and a camouflage boiler suit reading “Remastered Brutality.” Four items — all outerwear — from the 28-piece collection were sold out by Sunday morning.
Dressing commerce in art and performance, aided with the ease of digital, may have worked in captivating an audience. “I feel like they always tell a story with their presentation,” said Oli Abbas, who does marketing for the local, unisex clothing line We Are Mortals, after the show. “We didn’t mind getting dirt thrown in our faces.”
Transacting was no doubt part of this debut experiment by New York-based Made, especially with more than 30 vendors set up to sell their wares in a portion of the rooftop space dubbed The Stores. People could hang out on lawn chairs or shop the mix of brands, which ranged from big names such as MAC Cosmetics to local brands and artists looking for exposure.
“It’s nice to have this New York energy come to L.A. [and] shine a light on what we’re doing out here,” said Los Angeles-based Hit City USA founder and principal Colin Stutz. The eight-year-old business started out as a record label but began dabbling in fashion and lifestyle products about a year-and-a-half ago, now using deadstock fabric to make shirts.
“Events such as this aren’t necessarily a big money-maker but they educate people on the brand,” Hit City co-owner Cameron Parkins noted.
For L.A.-based Darner, maker of delicate mesh socks, traffic was strong, with the event an interesting take on where the industry here has gone in the past decade, said cofounder Harold Kuhn, who worked at public relations firm People’s Revolution about 10 years ago. “That was when Los Angeles Fashion Week was sponsored by Mercedes-Benz and [IMG] had it at Smashbox in Culver City and it was a big to-do. After that ended, several small groups tried to pick it up but nothing panned out,” Kuhn recalled.
Despite the runway shows and presentations, the weekend once again came down to the question of whether these events that help draw eyeballs and celebrities to L.A. are simply spectacles — one-time events to generate some buzz — or a signpost of a longer-term movement happening at last for the city’s fashion, which has inspired countless designers in recent years — from Hedi Slimane at Saint Laurent to Tom Ford to Nicolas Ghesquière at Louis Vuitton — but whose local designers have failed so far to capitalize on all that outside attention. “With Made behind this, they can definitely have something substantial,” said Kuhn.
Los Angeles’ renaissance stems from a mix of ingredients stirred into the pot at once: technology, music, art and fashion, pointed out Tom Pogue of L.A. brand Mister Freedom, who had a booth at The Stores.
“We learned that designers want resources and ways to access new consumers, engage existing ones and sell in new cities. The Stores really speaks to that. We are connecting the dots and giving designers, brands and the people what they want,” said Zitron.
The payoff has been worth it at an individual level from Pogue’s perspective, but whether the overall event has any return on investment for the greater fashion community remains to be seen.
“If you look on Instagram, #madela, there’s Cindy Crawford; that’s a big deal. That solidifies this thing. But if you look at some of the other brands, I don’t think it’s on a level of what Paris or New York fashion is,” he said.
Still, some of L.A.’s globally known fashion insiders think there’s hope. China Chow opined that Moschino’s show helped secure Los Angeles’ position as a fashion capital. “A lot of things are shifting here — for the good,” she said, adding, “For resort, why would you go anywhere else?”