New York Fashion Week is transforming, with social media influencers leading the way into an alternate reality. While the official calendar showcases top designers like Ralph Lauren and Eckhaus Latta, influencers with massive followings are taking viewers behind the scenes of lesser-known events and fashion shows via TikTok. This shift challenges the conventional fashion hierarchy and raises questions about the evolving dynamics of beauty, privilege, and identity.
Influencers are breaking new ground at New York Fashion Week, hosting events that exist outside the traditional fashion scene. Chanel set up shop in a Williamsburg diner, while Dior celebrated its iconic scent, J'adore, in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Social media stars even gave a fresh perspective on the controversial Victoria's Secret fashion show. These events shed light on how fashion brands perceive the power of the internet.
While some brands embraced TikTok and Instagram influencers, heavy hitters like Tory Burch, Michael Kors, and Proenza Schouler chose not to feature them prominently at their shows. This division raises questions about whether these brands are ahead of the curve or simply seeking exposure in a changing American fashion landscape.
The influencer divide recalls the gatekeeping and tensions during the early days of bloggers and Instagram influencers. However, it hasn't reached the scale of moments like the 2009 Dolce & Gabbana show when influential figures shared the front row with fashion elites.
Among the influencers, Sofia Richie Grainge stands out with her 3.4 million TikTok followers and her appearance at Ralph Lauren and Proenza Schouler. However, her status as a "nepo baby" sets her apart, having grown up in a world of designer fashion and pop culture credibility.
Khaite, a brand known for its online appeal, bridges the gap between influencers and industry insiders. With its trendy yet dark designs, it is a favorite among content creators. Khaite's success online suggests that fashion today is about making a statement online, not just about the clothes themselves.
A new breed of fashion, represented by Fforme and minimalistic brands like the Row and Toteme, focuses on offline luxury. These brands prioritize quality and comfort over trends and social media appeal, appealing to a niche audience seeking elegance and timeless style. Offline luxury is becoming the ultimate rarity in a world dominated by digital trends.