New York Gambles on a Fashion Week of Men’s Wear

At a news conference Monday afternoon to kick off New York Fashion Week: Men’s, Diane von Furstenberg, the president of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, charted the recent evolution of male sartorial consciousness. By way of example, she cited Steven Kolb, her friend and colleague, who stood beside her at the Skylight Clarkson Sq event space in Lower Manhattan.

“I remember Steven, 10 years ago, was a guy who didn’t know what to wear,” Ms. von Furstenberg told the modest crowd. “And look what he’s doing now.”

Mr. Kolb, the chief executive of the CFDA, lobbied for and helped to organize the New York showing for men’s wear designers. The event joins other major fashion weeks for men’s clothing that take place twice a year in London, Milan and Paris.

Previously, designers presented their men’s wear lines for New York audiences during fashion weeks in September and February — only to find themselves often eclipsed by the women’s shows.

Continue reading the main storyFor a moment, Ms. von Furstenberg seemed to question whether it was fair to use the term fashion week for the event that is now underway. “Is it a week?” she asked Mr. Kolb.Photo“It’s four days,” Mr. Kolb said.

“That’s a week,” Ms. von Furstenberg replied. “Especially in the summer.”

And it’s a packed week, too, as Mr. Kolb pointed out. About 60 shows will take place during the four days, he said, including major labels such as John Varvatos, Thom Browne and Michael Kors and upstarts like Craft Atlantic and Orley.

Amazon, a main sponsor of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, has already committed to multiple men’s weeks, Mr. Kolb added. Other backers for this go-round include Cadillac, the Detroit-based watch and bicycle brand Shinola, DreamWorks and the men’s grooming line Axe.

The four-day event is the second attempt at making men’s wear the focus of a New York fashion week. An earlier effort began in 1995, only to fizzle out in 2001. But now that men’s wear sales are booming and a certain dandyism seems to be on the rise among regular guys, perhaps the second time will be the charm.

PhotoAt least that seemed to be the hope among many of those at the news conference, a group that included the New York designers Michael Bastian, Italo Zucchelli and Robert Geller; the president of Amazon Fashion, Cathy Beaudoin; the Bergdorf Goodman men’s fashion director, Bruce Pask; the chief executive of Theory, Andrew Rosen; and New York City’s deputy mayor for housing and economic development, Alicia Glen, who was introduced by Ms. von Furstenberg.

“Fashion and manufacturing have been a foundational part of New York City’s economy for over a century — and we know that the industry is more vital than ever to our economic future,” Ms. Glen said. “Today, it’s the men who are ready for their close-up, and New York Fashion Week: Men’s will only strengthen New York City’s role as the fashion capital of the world.”

After the presentation, a reporter asked Mr. Kolb how he would define success for the event.

“We’re already trending on Instagram,” he said, half-joking.

In the spirit of equality, Mr. Kolb was asked a question usually put to women at fashion and red-carpet events: Who was he wearing?“This is a custom Paul Marlow suit and a Paul Marlow shirt,” he said.

Told that he looked quite sharp, Mr. Kolb said, “Despite what Diane said, I did have some style years ago.”

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