The 6 Next-gen New York Designers Who Broke Through This Fashion Week

·8 min read

The New York energy was back in full force this season, from an empty parking lot on the river in Brooklyn to the tippy-top of the Empire State Building, with the skyline as a fitting backdrop for so many.

While there were many of the established designers returning to the runway this season for the first IRL shows in 18 months — from Tory Burch to Coach, Michael Kors to Christian Siriano — the shows stood out for the slew of up-and-comers who either took the next major step in the evolutions of their collections or were entirely new to the scene.

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Here, WWD highlights six talents who made an impression during the spring 2022 season with their thoughtful presentations, focused visions and exciting clothes.

WILLY CHAVARRIA

When and where founded: New York City in 2015.

The look: Chavarria is no stranger to the New York Fashion Week scene. In fact, he’s one of the few men’s designers who has maintained an active presence. The brand DNA is rooted in social justice, love and human equality, filtered through an authentic approach to streetwear, incorporating Chicano-influenced silhouettes and styling for which he gives credit to his own ethnicity and cultural upbringing and desire to celebrate the Latino influence in fashion.

His love for creating engaging shows with inclusive casting is another constant, including his spring 2018 collection at the Eagle Bar in New York City, which juxtaposed religious, low-rider and leather bar influences.

Spring 2022 collection highlight: American classics amped up with couture-like constructions and several silhouettes that are sure to be influential, including the opening look, supersized high-waisted pleated khaki pants with a hint of a baby blue boxer short peeking out. Shirts with bell-shaped sleeves and pants with a long rise, structure at the knee and bulbous curves in the back also highlighted the designer’s sculptural approach.

NYFW impact: The recently appointed senior vice president of design at Calvin Klein has a rich résumé ranging from stints at big brands American Eagle Outfitters and Ralph Lauren to niche players such as Voler and Dickies Construct. He also worked on the Yeezy label for more than two years and was the creative director and owner of Palmer Trading Co., a vintage store and apparel brand, for more than a decade. All of it should help set him up for commercial success, if that’s what he wants. Declining to comment on sales appointments or new accounts, the designer said: “We measure our success based on how far-reaching our message of inclusion and empowerment is — in this way this has been our most successful season to date.” — Luis Campuzano

Willy Chavarria RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Willy Chavarria
Willy Chavarria RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Willy Chavarria

Courtesy of Willy Chavarria

PUPPETS AND PUPPETS

When and where founded: Founded by New York City-based interdisciplinary artist Carly Mark in 2019.

The look: With references to 19th-century court grandeur, New York City’s casual downtown élan and childhood whimsy, Mark spins an original look each season guided by an ambition to create fashion that equally acknowledges the past, present and future. With seasonal runway castings that read like a high school cafeteria of downtown’s creative elite, plus Mark’s own history as an artist and player in that scene, the brand has quickly caught on among fashion’s underground tastemakers.

Spring 2022 collection highlight: After a runway hiatus during the pandemic, Puppets and Puppets returned to its exploration of shapes and construction — mixing debutante-type, voluminous eveningwear from centuries past with modern American staples like knitwear and denim.

NYFW impact: In the last six months, Puppets and Puppets (PNP for short) launched its own direct-to-consumer e-commerce site with pieces that it sees as commercial distillations of its otherwise avant-garde designs. These items — like a small top-handle bag outfitted with a resin cookie and a hand-knit sweater spelling out “Puppets” (the name of Mark’s small dog) — have been created as brand calling cards to oil the rest of the machine.

Shortly after PNP’s e-commerce launch, the label got an exclusive with Ssense, which sold out of its stock of Puppets and Puppets handbags within a week. Now, with an expanded take on its signature handbag (Mark switched up the affixed cookie, slotting in a classic N.Y. black and white), PNP will begin market appointments next week, opening its books up to global wholesale for the first time. Misty White Sidell

Puppets and Puppets RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Dan & Corina Lecca/Puppets and Puppets
Puppets and Puppets RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Dan & Corina Lecca/Puppets and Puppets

Courtesy of Dan & Corina Lecca/Puppets and Puppets

LUAR NYC

When and where founded: Founded in 2016 in New York City by designer Raul Lopez, who is also a cofounder of Hood by Air.

The look: Tight tailoring, deconstruction and subversive fashion, influenced by men’s wear but distinctly through Lopez’s Dominican culture lens.

Spring 2022 collection highlight: The opening look, a black leather topcoat with harness detail, shown on forever cool supermodel Omahyra. It was the epitome of downtown style.

NYFW impact:This season was quite monumental for the brand as it’s a huge comeback show after a few seasons of sabbatical, and the collection was quite a personal one for me,” said Lopez. “Along with ready-to-wear, I introduced eyewear and bags. We had media placements from GQ, Vogue, Elle, Complex, Highsnobiety, Le Figaro and more. Lourdes Leon, Kerby Jean-Raymond, ASAP Rocky, Kerwin Frost, Selah Marley and many more attended the show on a Friday night, where it really felt like the New York energy was back.” — Thomas Waller

Luar RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Luar
Luar RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Luar

Courtesy of Luar

SERGIO HUDSON

When and where founded: Founded in L.A. in 2014.

The look: A modern and exuberant take on American classic sportswear.

Fall 2021 (Hudson is see now, buy now) collection highlight: Any number of brightly colored power suits, coats or one of the dazzling finale gowns that exemplified Hudson’s vision of high-octane glamour and Black excellence.

NYFW Impact: “The show felt incredibly successful. Our collection was made available immediately after our fashion show. Since then, several styles are selling out, media has been excited,” said Hudson. “Most importantly customers and friends of Sergio Hudson have shown a lot of support on social media and at the stores.”

Sheila E kicked off the runway show in song, and Audra McDonald wore a custom crimson wool crepe off-the-shoulder ballgown to perform at Monday’s Met Gala. — T.W.

Sergio Hudson RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: George Chinsee/WWD
Sergio Hudson RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: George Chinsee/WWD

George Chinsee/WWD

PETER DO

When and where founded: New York City in 2018.

The look: Effortlessly cool, modernist tailoring with a sleek, urban feel and architectural shapes. Over time, the designer has intertwined more fluid, feminine layers to juxtapose with the more masculine silhouettes and continually strong, harder accessories.

Spring 2022 collection highlight: While the emerging designer’s label has made waves since its inception, spring marked Do’s debut runway show. Set at Brooklyn’s Skyline Drive In Theater with a picturesque Manhattan backdrop, the designer debuted his new American look with divine tailoring contrasted against softer layers, and references to his Vietnamese heritage.

NYFW impact: Announced Wednesday, Do was nominated for the CFDA American Womenswear Designer of the Year award. “We titled our show ‘Home’ because together we wanted to make an impact on our home turf, NYC — to bring our families into our moment and to share what we’ve built over the past three years,” said Do. “The runway show was our moment to step into a new chapter, a new stage and tell our story. It was important to talk about representation, and our immigrant histories but in our terms. The excitement and impact was immediate: we received so many sales appointment inquiries that we had to close our books! Press and editors have been positive; most of all the show gave us a point of connection to a larger audience, both IRL in NYC but globally via social. The show was an electric point of connection, the moment we could feel we’ve stepped into a new chapter.” — Emily Mercer

Peter Do RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: George Chinsee/WWD
Peter Do RTW Spring 2022 - Credit: George Chinsee/WWD

George Chinsee/WWD

CONNOR MCKNIGHT

Where and when founded: September 2020, Brooklyn, N.Y. McKnight, whose résumé includes stints at Kith and Bode, launched his collection in the midst of the Black Lives Matter protests with comfortable wardrobe staples based on silhouettes popular with Black youth, but in updated materials. “My original collection was an ode to the Black mundane and I reinvented silhouettes we’ve seen for years,” said McKnight, who is adept at designing everything from a shorts set to a tailored suit.

The look: Relaxed fit, textured knits, technical details and contemporary workwear.

Spring 2022 highlights: A trend-right, polished-casual collection of mostly unisex pieces that ran the gamut from street-ready slouchy sweatpants to a cropped leather jacket. For his spring inspiration, he expanded his inclusive vision to what society views as “perfect families and their respective representations in pop culture.” His goal, he said, was to “reimagine family to suggest a new idea of perfection” — or “propose alternatives to the stereotypical characters in a family.”

Among McKnight’s favorites of the season was the goalie set created to look like a woven beach chair, the fisherman’s pullover tunic dipped in organic indigo dye to mimic the ocean, the recycled polyester nylons and even the handmade water bottles. Other highlights included a knit wrap skort that could double as a towel, organic cotton pajamas, a trench coat with a pleated back and workwear-inspired striped pants.

NYFW impact: Compared to the week of Sept .1 to 7, the Connor McKnight Instagram account saw a 1,927 percent increase in content interactions, and managed to reach 330 percent more accounts during NYFW. — Jean E. Palmieri

Connor McKnight Men’s Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Connor McKnight
Connor McKnight Men’s Spring 2022 - Credit: Courtesy of Connor McKnight

Courtesy of Connor McKnight

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