Four months and twenty days before 11 designers debuted their latest collection on the stage at the venue Villain on North 3rd St for Williamsburg Fashion Weekend, garment workers in Bangladesh were ordered to return to work in a building that was already beginning to show signs of structural failure serious enough to keep the other businesses in it shuttered.  It collapsed shortly thereafter, causing 1,129 individual humans to be crushed and suffocated by concrete and rubble.

Arthur Arbit, the local tailor who started Williamsburg Fashion Weekend in 2006, opened this year’s event by pointing out that there is no way to produce a $15 blouse for H&M without the garment being soaked in someone’s blood; this year it may be appropriate to adjust that to say that there’s rubble in the pockets of your Levi’s.  Arthur’s event provides copious evidence that industrial fashion, although difficult to avoid, is not our only option.

    While Arthur is most vocal on the topic of conditions for garment workers, the event challenges many of the fashion industry’s norms without as many words. While the ubiquity of conventional white models has gone unchanged in New York Fashion Week since 2008, WFW’s stage sees clothes upon models who were chosen because they actually seem to enjoy wearing them rather than because they accentuate the Chanel ad across the fold in a magazine.  The result is a show that has all of the appreciation and respect befitting the work the designers put into their lines without the aggressive air of exclusivity that maintains Fashion Week as a purely elitist event.

This year’s event saw a mix between the polished and wearable lines of Brittany Erb and Gregory Apparel, showcases of the novel and sustainable production techniques of Shute Organics and IQTEST by Melissa Lockwood, and dreams and nightmares rendered into fabrics after being pulled from the minds of DEVOWEVO, Uta Bekaia, and Mark Tauriello.

For details and photos from the event in addition to our gallery on Facebook, I highly recommend the coverage of the Village Voice, Shoes & Drama, and the videos of each designer found on the YouTube page of unARTigNYC.


Mainly, though, I just recommend that you make it to the winter show if you can.

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