It’s one of the most jam-packed fashion months yet, with designers far and wide making their return. But in addition to the familiar names, under-the-radar designers are making their mark and oftentimes getting just as much attention as the mainstream giants.New York Fashion Week alone will see over 100 different designers presenting new collections. Here, we’ll be charting the new names to know, as well as the established but still under-the-radar brands to watch for the spring 2023 season.
Just a year ago, Lùchen made its runway debut with clothing that drew the line between theatrics and the surreal, with pink puffy shirt coats, floor-grazing white button ups, and sheer marvels in bright blue and black. The duvet-like gown that swished across the runway was also particularly genius. The unfinished hems and technical construction paid tribute to Martin Margiela and Ann Demeulemeester. Designer Lu Chen is a recent Parsons grad, and is already creating her own unique design identity. She opened fashion week on Wednesday, September 8th, with a runway show that made an equally strong statement.
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Another new name on the scene is Elena Velez, who takes inspiration from her Wisconsin roots to create fashion that merges on Midwest industrialism and chic apocalyptic. Steel corsets, PVC harnesses, and sheer layers combine for something that feels truly new in the crowded New York fashion space. Her brand is just a few years old, but already, Kali Uchis, Grimes, Charli XCX, Arca, Kim Petras, Tinashe, Rico Nasty, and Caroline Polachek have worn her work. Last season’s show was intimate and atmospheric, though this season’s, which took place on Saturday, September 10th, acknowledged Velez’s growing profile: Julia Fox showed up to the show dressed in Velez’s clothes.
Mia Vesper is already known for her psychedelic tapestry jackets and metallic threaded pleats that combine a luxury approach to craftsmanship with a slightly bohemian twist. Her pieces are pure colorful craft, with a hint of wanderlust-inspired chaos. After a season off, Vesper is returning to the schedule with a presentation on Sunday, September 11 and, if past collections are any indication, there will be plenty of lush upcycled textiles in unexpected forms, and maybe a croc texture corset or metallic pleated top or two. Fans of the brand include Beyoncé and Pete Davidson.
Puppets & Puppets
The past couple of seasons, Puppets and Puppets has been the name everyone talks about at fashion week—but even more so with the brand expanding into stores like Bergdorf Goodman. Carly Mark takes the approach of an artist, integrating esoteric references in left and right. The pièce de résistance of Puppets and Puppets? A black leather handbag with a lifelike resin cookie. Expect the show on September 11th to include a performance element, and fashion that makes you laugh (in a good way) at her runway show. “My biggest inspiration is always film,” Mark explains. “I love horror, I love science fiction, I love strangeness.” She describes her work as “romantic and moody, left of center, young and also modern, with a bit of dark humor in there as well.”
Founded in 2020 by Jack Miner and Lily Miesmer, the designer duo behind Interior are inspired by raw emotion and instill just that into their pieces that stand as reinterpreted versions of everyday garments. A floor-length sequined turtleneck gown, for example, or a cardigan done up in a seafoam open weave knit, or even a blck and white cashmere sweater with red stitches front and center—these are all part of the Interior world, which puts a focus on making a statement in the everyday. This season, the brand will present a runway show for the first time, on Monday, September 12, that will parlay the brand further into the New York cool girl firmament.
Jackson Wiederhoeft founded his namesake line just three years ago, and it’s already one of the most exciting labels to watch: think Alice in Wonderland silhouettes with a twist of prep. Prior to launching his brand, Wiederhoeft designed for Thom Browne, and it shows through in the demi-couture techniques and brushes of surrealism. Wiederhoeft describes his work as “Modern nostalgia. Old and new. Familiar and strange. Something that you might have seen as a child, or was it in a dream? Prick your finger on a spinning wheel levels of drama.” He’s recently been looking at everything from the subjective nature of memory and passionate desire to Miss Trunchbull (yes, the villain headmaster from Roald Dahl’s Matilda) and spilled treasure chests as inspiration, and will present a runway show on Wednesday, September 14th. “I want to create an experience, a vision, that inspires others to create,” he says. “My wish is for people to see the work, and to become so excited by it that they feel a burning desire to create something themselves. There are so many stories within all of us—stories that deserve to be heard and appreciated. If I can encourage someone to express a story, or craft a world, then this collection will be successful in my eyes.”
Sure, Willy Chavarria is not a new designer—he’s worked in the industry for decades at Ralph Lauren and now Calvin Klein—but his namesake brand, founded in 2015 and showing since 2018, has recently been getting the attention it deserves, and increasingly in the womenswear space. Chavarria, who is showing on Wednesday, September 14th, takes inspiration from his Chicano community upbringing, merging oversized silhouettes and recontextualizing them, blending high fashion shapes into pieces worn by street casted models for menswear that feels truly directional in a sea of understated streetwear. “Human connection is key,” he says of the biggest goal of his work. “The business works only when there is a connection between you, your work, and the people you touch.” Beyond his upcoming show, he’s also launching an NFT project, The Big Willy Love Club. “I find inspiration in the truth. The realness that isn’t tainted by social media,” he adds.
Kristen Bateman is a contributing editor at Harper’s Bazaar. Her first fashion article was published in Vogue Italia during her junior year of high school. Since then, she has interned and contributed to WWD, Glamour, Lucky, i-D, Marie Claire and more. She created and writes the #ChicEats column and covers fashion and culture for Bazaar. When not writing, she follows the latest runway collections, dyes her hair to match her mood, and practices her Italian in hopes of scoring 90% off Prada at the Tuscan outlets. She loves vintage shopping, dessert and cats.