Street fashion from New York, a city known for its diverse and exciting inhabitants, can be anything from chic, to street, boho, to mod -- or simply fierce. However, there’s at least one common factor among New York street-style icons, and that’s that they’re able to run around the city going about their everyday lives while looking flawless. We’ll take a look at what makes street fashion in New York unique and the brands that New Yorkers have chosen to represent them.
Cecil Beaton, the late English fashion, portrait and war photographer, said of New Yorker’s attitudes in his 1948 book Portrait of New York, “The New Yorker considers he is living in his own private person, and whenever that person is, he is home. The outside world is his private domain.”
The idea that New Yorkers can consider a place so public as a sidewalk as part of their private domain, in a way, allows street photographers the ability to capture an individual’s private self while in a public place. This could be a key insight into what makes street fashion from New York stand out in our increasingly innovative and stylish global community.
Marc Jacobs dresses are iconic, whimsical pieces that both represent NY street fashion, and always catch the eye of a street style photographer. During fashion week, you can expect to see style icons like Alexa Chung and Yasmin Sewell, as well as a host of off-duty models and editors alike, mixing Marc Jacob’s quirky, colorful separates into their looks.
Alexander Wang has been the darling of New York fashion for nearly a decade and he shows no sign of relinquishing that status. Street fashion from New York makes an impact because on any given day, the best dressed can also be the most dressed down. Wang’s sexy-sporty mini dresses, track pants and line of perfectly slouched tees are big hits with the Lower East Side and Williamsburg style set, but Alexander Wang purses can be seen all over town.
Calvin Klein is as much a part of the American look as red, white and blue, after all, it gave us sleek sheaths and the unforgettable denim ads of the ‘90s. Now, this iconic American is experiencing a resurgence, thanks in part to the rise of normcore. Calvin Klein Jeans has become known for producing beautifully made basics, like white tees and super-soft sweatshirts, at more accessible prices. Street fashion icons in New York pair theirs with straight leg, mid-rise jeans for an accurate retro look, or do their Wednesday night out in a CK top and a black mini.
Jason Wu is a favorite of editors during fashion week. Michelle Obama is more than a little responsible for making his career, but you’ll see a lot of Vogue’s senior staff in Wu’s pretty day dresses and chic trousers, as well. Now that the magazine has moved offices to the new Freedom Tower downtown, New York street style icons are as much a part of Tribeca as Leonardo DiCaprio.
Proenza Schouler deserves a nod in this roll call of style makers, if only for its much-copied and ultra-identifiable PS1 bags. However, some of the brand’s best pieces hover under the radar, even when Eva Chen, the ever-stylish entrepreneur, is sporting them. In the middle of February, when street style photographers are catching editors and bloggers leaping over and tiptoeing around snow banks en route to the shows, some of the most fashionable New York street-style icons are cozied up in luscious Proenza Schouler knits.
Hood by Air has had a string of hugely popular lines of streetwear. For a time, the tell-tale Helvetica ‘HBA’-emblazoned merchandize showed up on every street style blog from The Sartorialist to WGSN. NY street style was having a new moment, and it’s safe to say Hood by Air had a hand in the shake-up. Only a handful of brands have reached such cult status since the mid-nineties. HBA fed itself, taking over the streets with small groups of insiders first, then a larger set of trendsetters, and the circle naturally widened.
NY street fashion can be difficult to pin down, but if there’s a lesson to take away from the fashionable inhabitants of NYC, it’s to go big or go home if you want to make your mark.