NYC Fashion Diary
I've been to trade shows in Paris and London, but never New York City. It seems shocking, even saying the words out loud, considering that NYC is just a quick train ride away from Philadelphia. To attend the shows in Europe, at minimum, requires plane tickets and a pretty serious agenda; non-stop days at the shows followed by countless showroom appointments. A trip to the shows in the Big Apple is all in a day's work. I can get to NYC -- let the bright lights and the big city soak through my pores -- and still make it home in time for dinner. The concept is pretty simple, and yet I've still never made the trip. Until now.
For the longest time, we've been pretty rigid about what our beliefs about LILA should be. We've embraced international designers, who we've always identified with because of our own experiences growing up abroad, and turned the other way when it came to domestic designers. That's what makes us different, we argued. That's what sets our vision for our brand apart from the cookie cutter brands, which literally make my stomach turn with their sameness and lack of imagination.
But as of late, we've had somewhat of a change of heart. Not with regards to the cookie cutter, as that will never have a place in our business. But in making a point not to overlook American talent - as there are designers on this side of the pond too, who are pushing the industry forward and taking it to new heights with their ingenuity and creative vision. So that's the purpose of this trip. To see what else is out there and to keep an open mind.
I hadn't been up to NYC in ages (quite literally), and yet found myself traveling to the big city twice within a week to take in as much as humanely possible during my time there. I arrived the day the show opened, not knowing quite what to expect. The venue was insanely large and as I walked through the space, I found myself marveling at the modern design, which so fittingly complemented such a large-scale fashion event. How I wish you could have spied all the elaborately dressed fashionista's who flocked to this event. Just from Philly alone, buyers from so many familiar boutiques, spanning Old City to Manayunk and the Main Line Instagram storied their fashion 'finds'. Indeed, there were so many brands and buyers under one roof, that after spending a good 6 hours previewing collection after collection, everything seemed like a blur. I couldn't keep straight which designers felt like a good fit for the store, and which were simply put, a total miss.
Which is why, a day later, I planned another (this time, unplanned) trip to NYC to get it all straight in my head. My plan was to revisit the brand's that made a good first impression and to swing by the booths I missed during my first visit. The second trip was also necessary for another reason. As I'm sure you can guess - with so many neighboring boutiques all heading to the same show, we're bound to get our wires crossed. The day after I returned from Day 1 of the show, I researched every designer that showed potential to ensure that they weren't already carried by a fellow retailer. It can feel like a bit of disappointment when you think you've found a cool new brand to carry, only to find they're already stocked by a neighbor.
For that reason, Day 2 is about seeing what other brands you might discover after you've scratched about half off your list from Day 1. This can be somewhat of a nuisance, which is why I've always preferred to steer clear of the NYC shows. When you're sourcing from Europe, chances are (very) slim that no one in the whole of Philadelphia will be carrying the same collections.
This season, the show was all about Fall and Winter fashions! Fur coats in every cut and color abounded, as did three very popular prints - check, snakeskin and leopard. It was everywhere. I was thrilled to see these prints worked into suede jackets, trench coats and vests, as well as into denim!
As for accessories, an Italian leather handbag brand impressed with beautifully designed snakeskin shoulder bags, square totes and bucket bags. We're not giving away any names just yet... but keep an eye out for something totally different and whimsical next season. We also found our way to the ever popular (maybe not so much with our crowd!) handwoven rattan bags in every shape or size. A quick poll taken on our Instagram (handle: @lilafashioninternational) showed that over one-third of you were over this style! Surprising, but insightful for us all the same. We are ALWAYS grateful for your feedback.
We also previewed every fur-lined accessory imaginable in every color, including animal print. Think gloves, hand-warmers, pom hats, scarves, you name it. And as pearls seem to embellish everything these days, we saw those too. One thing we can say pretty confidently about Fall/Winter 19-20 - it's going to be another colorful season, much like this one, where neon and pastels are fully embraced rather than just reserved for the warmer weather months. If you're thinking about investing in a colorful fur coat or jacket, go for it. It won't be going out of trend anytime soon. On the contrary, it will lend a burst of color to a closet full of monochromatic looks you plan on styling all season.
I'll admit - I'm as guilty as they come in sticking to a more neutral color palette - black, grey and brown, with burgundy to mix it up. And of course, there's always room for leather and leopard. But I have also made a conscious effort this season to branch out to incorporating corals and reds, as well as mustard and blush into my clothing selections! For me, that's progress.
And let's not overlook leisurewear - we know that so many of your prioritize comfort, so we were on the lookout for cozy sweaters, fleece-lined sweatshirts and tees that could be lived in throughout the winter months and well into spring.
The show did not disappoint. We found more than a few lines that prioritized cozy, too, and were spoiled with choice when it came time to narrow down the list. One of our favorite pairings that we've seen this season has been the graphic tee (so cute and casual) with the dressier blazer. We've seen this combo perfected in daywear, when styled over denim, as well as for a night out when paired with a leather legging and heels. The t-shirt has long been a wardrobe basic and one which is incredibly versatile, as you can find one in every closet, irrespective of lifestyle.
With the buying show now in the rearview mirror, I can say that the trip was well worth it. Despite my reservations, I wouldn't be doing my job if I didn't pay mind to what else is out there, particularly in our backyard. As buyers, it is necessary that we keep up with the tides - what's current, new and emerging - and I can't do that blindfolded. No matter what my biases may be.
I was also pleasantly surprised to have found at least a few new designers who impressed me beyond expectation and whose creations thrilled me to no end. As the show came to a close, I left feeling completely invigorated. To be surrounded on such occasions by so many people who share my passion is a gift. I also felt incredibly grateful; no path has ever brought me such profound joy as that which I now lead. Until next time, NYC!