NYFWM Autumn/Winter 2016

Wednesday, April 06, 2016

In late November when J. Bull hatched the idea of going to the sophomore season of New York Fashion Week: Men's I thought that it was just another crazy idea being put out into the open. However, when the affordability of it all revealed itself to me and as my connections pointed me in the right directions, I quickly reconsidered. At the mere age of [twenty] years old, I truly believe that God's favor allowed me to attend one of the most pivotal experiences of my life.

I had not been to NYC for nearly five years and a combination of nervousness and excitement was taking over my body. It took much persistence and self-reassurance to build myself up into actually going, but once the plane landed in Brooklyn all of my doubts melted away and I knew that something major was about to occur. When you step foot on a New York City street, there is this distinct spirit of movement that penetrates you. It guides you and leads you in the direction of your dreams. There is no doubt that this was destined to happen to me. With everything that happened that week, there are four lessons that summed up everything that I learned from the entire experience.

1. Stay Positive.
There were millions of voices in my head telling me why I shouldn't go to NYFW: Mens. There was the fact that I was a full-time student with a nearly full-time job. There was also the fact that I had no experience in going to shows and that I was an absolute nobody in the menswear industry. Nonetheless, everything fell into place with extensive preparation, persistence, and most importantly positivity. Being told No all one's life can have a negative effect on somebody but I have learned throughout this experience that positivity is a choice, made daily and can ultimately determine your outcome.

2. Network like Nobody's Business.
One would be amazed at how many young people just like myself have aspirations to work in fashion. There is especially a huge cluster of talented, rising, fashion influencers who have a genuine knack for menswear, an industry still early in its growth. I met a number of these folks while waiting in line outside the Whitney Museum to gain admission into Public School's "Outside In" menswear presentation to happen the next day at Milk Studios.

As one of the first fifty, I met and networked with what seemed to be the future leaders of American men's fashion. All coming from different backgrounds, we exchanged our contact information, upcoming events, as well as opportunities we knew about. It felt so much like family and I still remain in touch with these awesome colleagues as we prepare for the next season. Through networking and the teamwork of my peers, we all paved the way for ourselves to conquer the week. As long as you open up your mouth + speak up for what you want you can get where you want to be.

3. Trust Yourself & Go For It.
All in all, I attended Concept Korea: Ordinary People, DBYD, Public School, and Kenneth Ning. J Bull got into these as well as Second/Layer & Todd Snyder. As all of this unfolded I realized that it is not as hard to get into this industry as one may think. I relied on my instincts and just kept taking risks and speaking to industry professionals from entry-level bloggers, interns, to actual designers themselves. After hearing Robert Geller tell me himself that he loves when people sneak into his shows, we took Geller's advice and ran with it. Towards the end of the week lurking around Skylight Clarkson Square and the Meatpacking District we successfully maneuvered in and out of the shows and was heavily in the mix of the menswear press. For a wrap up of all the collections we attended, make sure to view the video below:

4. Slay + Slay Again.
From talking face to face to menswear designer Robert Geller at his Apple Store [Soho] meet & greet, meeting with Kenneth Ning in International Playground upon preparation for his show, networking with an amazing flock of peers that ooze fashion potential, to being photographed throughout the week by street style photographers going in and out of Skylight Clarkson Square, to being in the same space (literally three feet away) as GQ's editor-in-chief and creative director, there was something inside of me that was telling me that this industry is exactly for me. I trusted my instincts that I had and slayed my first encounter with the menswear industry. I am proud of this experience and thank it as it has exposed me to endless opportunities. I do plan on attending the next season of New York Fashion Week: Men's Spring/Summer 2017 as it will be an awesome opportunity to grow and promote the Lewis & Bull brand, as well as other rising brands, network with industry professionals, and to advance my career within the industry.

All photography courtesy of Lewis & Bull

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