Whether it’s high school or haute couture, the new kids always spark buzz. It’s partly because it’s fun to be first—I knew that band before anyone cared; I wore that label before anyone knew—and partly because we’ve all been there, just starting out, wondering where we belong and whether our dreams are worth it.
For these 12 newbies at New York Fashion Week, the stakes are higher than heels. Will they become a breakout brand? Will they inspire new ways to see style? Will they at least get a few tags on Instagram?
Read on to see who we’re watching this season, and follow our live coverage during New York Fashion Week to see their visions in action. After all, it’s fun to be first.
The Inclusive Perfectionists: 11 Honoré
This groundbreaking website sells designer clothes from Altuzarra, Marc Jacobs, Brandon Maxwell and more, only in sizes 10 through 24. As more labels realize all bodies are chic, this luxury retailer is having its first New York Fashion Week show to prove it. Can’t wait!
The Polished Overachievers: Burnett
Success is not a race, but don’t tell that to Emily Burnett, who became Dennis Basso’s creative director at 23, steered the brand for 10 years, and now strikes out on her own with a line of capable party options that bridge Millennial and classic adult style. Her CEO, Sterling McDavid, comes from Goldman Sachs… and is 29. (Yes, we’re exhausted, too.)
The Scene Stylers: DUNCAN
Created by Michelle Duncan, this fledgling line of Blondie-Meets-Babe-Paley clothes debuts with a bash at Mission Chinese hosted by gallerist Sarah Hoover and fashion campaign director Jen Brill. Downtown dream girls, take note.
The Uptown Girls: Frederick Anderson
Though he’s resisted traditional fashion shows in the past, this beloved New York fixture is finally bringing his Park Avenue point of view to… well, actually, to a mansion on Park Avenue, where he’ll reveal his Fall 2019 collection. Expect sumptuous fabrics and flirty hems, because being expensive takes a certain kind of sex appeal.
The Jean Queens: Good American
When brand strategist Emma Grede began working with Kris Kardashian on various projects, she probably didn’t expect to be making $1 million a day on blue jeans. But fast forward to 2016, when Grede and Khloe Kardashian launched the inclusive designer denim line Good American and disproved industry believes about luxury shoppers and curvy clothing. This New York Fashion Week, Good American dips their toes into the scene with Grede appearing on a panel about model trends, influencer casting, and what we see online and in ourselves.
The Movie Legend: Ruth E. Carter
IMG and Harlem’s Fashion Row have teamed up to give legendary costume designer Ruth E. Carter (Black Panther, She’s Gotta Have It, etc.) and featuring over 35 of her iconic movie outfits. Stylist Ibrahim Kamara will help bring it to life, with a February 6 event that debuts even more original designs.
The Fashion Savant: Khaite
Cate Holstein is a former design director at Gap and Vera Wang; she’s also a 30-something New Yorker who knows how to get dressed for work and still look insanely cool. Though her brand Khaite has been a Net-a-Porter favorite for a little while, this season marks her first New York Fashion Week appearance, and frankly, it’s about time. (Also: she’s launching handbags, and yes, you will want one.)
The Color Bomb: Leaf Xia
Born in China and trained at the Parsons School of Design, Xia’s Crayola dream dresses have won major fashion fans at London Fashion Week. This season, the young designer (and her long pastel hair) arrive in Manhattan for their first runway show. Expect bright, bouncy things to soothe the winter blues.
The MTV Couturier: Cong Tri
Nguyen Cong Tri is a Vietnamese designer who’s famed for creating Katy Perry’s over-the-top stage frocks. The metallic Victorian gown? That was his. So were the leopard print puff sleeves and the blue Cinderella dress from the “Immortal Flame” video. Get ready for some fashion fireworks… probably with “Firework” on the soundtrack, because, well, you know.
The Streetwear Invasion: Palm Angels
Moncler art director Francesco Ragazzi started his own line of bold, branded basics in 2014. Now they’ve taken over street style blogs, and appeared on Kendall Jenner, Joe Jonas, and Pharrell Williams, who wrote the forward for Palm Angels’ Rizzoli art book. They’ll stage their first New York runway next week, and all we know is, there will be logos.
The Literal Unknown: Pony x Harbin
“Stefano Contini is a famous Italian designer,” says the Pony x Harbin bio, except according to Google, he doesn’t exist. (There’s an older gentleman named Stefano Contini who’s big in the art world, but that’s it.) The label also has no real Instagram presence, aside from a series of candid photos with Chinese pop star Huang Tingting that’s tagged with the brand. Oh, and the RSVP address for the show? It goes to a bunk webpage. Get to the bottom of this streetwear mystery on February 9, when the show (maybe?) goes on.
The Shine-or-Die: Victoria Hayes
The reason Victoria Hayes hasn’t had a Fashion Week debut yet? She never really needed one. The designer’s shiny maroon trench coats and sculptural carved jewelry have graced everyone from Nicki Minaj and Shirley Manson to Lady Gaga, and scored the Canada native a coveted Rising Star Award from Fashion Group International. This season, we’ll finally be able to see her designs up-close (but probably not on clients like Audra Day).