Almost everybody in the fashion industry aspires to attend one of the big four fashion weeks. My aspiration of the same became a reality on the 7th of February 2020 when I landed at JFK at eight in the morning, ready to take on my first day at the coveted New York Fashion Week. I spent months in preparation for this very day, putting out a tiny amount of my paycheque, filling out and understanding the documentation and paper work that allows you to go to the states and updating a Pinterest board full of outfit ideas and trends I would like to incorporate. I was so ready to leave my turbulent plane ride behind me and excited to attend runways and make connections with some incredibly talented people.
Walking through the airport, I wanted to cherish every sight I saw. Airports tend to be dull places anyway but this trip was so important to me that I paid special attention every detail like the overpriced sim card vending machines at every gate and the NYPD merchandise stores ridden with hoodies, caps water bottles and any novelty item you could think of. I had to take a cab to a tiny hotel in Chinatown- one I chose in order to explore a seemingly unnoticed part of the city during my downtime- more on that later.
It felt quite surreal, finally being in New York, I’d love to move there some day. I never expected myself to get there so soon and I was proud of myself on that cab ride to my accommodation. Taking in the sights of the monumental skyscrapers that you see on souvenir posters and keychains, the Brooklyn Bridge and seeing the tiny halal food cart in Manhattan which was a humble beginning for one of my favourite restaurants back in Toronto. The grey clouds and rain was no match for the sunshine and warmth I felt inside; happy and grateful to be there.
My hotel was this tiny building you’d miss if you blinked; tucked away right next to the Manhattan bridge. You could see the F train from my window and hear the sounds of cars and trucks as they passed. You’d think the noise would be annoying to sleep with but I am a city girl and it was an unusually serene feeling hearing it all. I unpacked my luggage and put on this stunning red pant suit and a thrifted smiley face shirt. I did my makeup and finished the look with a black fedora hat. Time for my first show. I had no idea what to expect. I was buzzing with anticipation. I’m living the dream.
My first show was this incredible Fall Winter collection with Son Jung Wan- a 50’s aesthetic reworked with a modern take. I was truly awestruck at the sheer creativity and cohesiveness of the music, pattens, fabrics, textures and the walk. It was at this show that I met a talent manager from Bristol who I ended up spending a lot of time with that week. My first international contact! We’ve kept in touch almost everyday since.
The week went by as such a blur. Figuring out how to use the subway, eating 99 cent pizza and grocery shopping at Target to minimize my costs. Needless to say I skipped quite a few classes to live this reality. One thing I noticed across all the shows was the attempt to reduce and curb the social costs of these glamorous events. The entire venue had switched to recycled paper and glass Perrier water bottles with dedicated disposal facilities. Designers were moving toward, up-cycled or sustainable fabrics like linen and bamboo thus proving that creativity in should not always have to come with a cost. This was a message I was trying to spread in my own little way too. Every outfit I wore to fashion week was either thrifted or borrowed! Additionally, most runways had a theme of empowerment which as a feminist, I thoroughly enjoyed.
I was truly out there living my best life. I watched the grammies at a private theatre in SoHo. I managed to get in touch with one of the main recruiters at Vogue. Explored the tiny Chinatown flea markets and walked down Canal street for the affordable fashion gems. For anyone planning on going, it is totally worth it. If there’s anything I regret, it is not staying there long enough. You cannot do New York in five days; especially during fashion week. It’s difficult to pick and choose the highlights of what I enjoyed the most.
Each day was different and I had no way of knowing where it would take me. At one time I could be sitting front row at Spring Studios watching Sergio Hudson’s show and the next i’m at an Adidas afterparty in Brooklyn. One thing I did know for sure though, this is where i’m meant to be.