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The fashion pilgrimage: Americans in Paris

In the perpetual competition between fashion capitals, Paris seems to be winning over New York once again. Even among American brands, it would seem.

During last month’s shows, it was pretty clear that menswear designers from the U.S. preferred to fly over the Ocean to enter the official calendar of Paris Fashion Week, attracted by the sparkle of the Ville Lumière.

Amiri spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

Amiri spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

The United States represents one of the world’s largest markets for menswear sales. Based on the latest ISTAT data, it was the fourth largest destination for Made in Italy men’s clothing in the first quarter of 2022, with exports accounting for 8.3 per cent of the total, which grew at a sustained rate of 57.9 per cent to EUR 142 million. Nevertheless, the shortage of local designers for this category has prompted many American brands to move into the spotlight of the Eiffel Tower.

Thom Browne spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

Looks from the Thom Browne spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

Even the effort of the Council of Fashion Designers of America to create a New York Fashion Week Men’s back in 2016 has failed to take root. After attracting top designers such as Tommy Hilfiger, Thom Browne, Michael Kors, John Varvatos and Rag & Bone, every edition started losing names and the CFDA’s attempt to align the dates with the women’s calendar was not successful either.

And that is why so many American designers, including Thom Browne, John Elliott and Greg Lauren opted to show their collections in Paris. Not only big names but also emerging labels.

LA-based brand Amiri, for instance, debuted during Spring-Summer 2023 Paris Men’s Fashion Week, bringing its cool made-in California luxury to the Jardin des Plantes. A path from a basement in Sunset Boulevard to the beating heart of haute couture for founder Mike Amiri.

Amiri spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

Amiri spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

But the young Los Angeles label wasn’t the only one on the West Coast to feel the call of the Seine. The talents arriving from California included Mr. Saturday, a post-traditional luxury brand founded by Joey Gollish, making its first appearance this season in the official calendar of the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.

Multidisciplinary artist Reese Cooper brought its namesake brand to Paris to show their entirely Made in LA pieces, followed by the luxury techniques mixed with streetwear elements of Rhude, a design venture born out of the City of Angels in 2015 by the creativity of Rhuigi Villaseñor. 

Rhude spring-summer 23 show

Rhude spring-summer 23 show 

Airei is another Los Angeles-based brand, designed by Drew Curry, which showed in the French capital. The LVMH Prize 2022 semi-finalist flew to the other side of the Ocean to face once again the 2022 LVMH Prize finalist Winnie New York, who also won the 2022 Karl Lagerfeld Special prize.

Finally, the Brooklyn-based artists collective founded by Colm Dillane, KidSuper Studios, also chose to stage their new proposals in Paris with a fashion show auction. 

 
But why have so many American designers decided to move to Paris Fashion Week?

The answer can be found in the words of designer John Elliot: “To attract the eyeballs of the world, we have to go where those eyeballs are, and that’s Paris,” he stated. After staging nine shows in New York, the brand held its first runway show in Paris this season. 

“You receive the same attention from the U.S. press, but you also attract international buyers and media. And even though showing abroad requires more of an investment in terms of financing, it puts your brand on a bigger stage, so it’s worth it,” John Elliot said.

KidSuper s-s 23 by founder and designer Colm Dillane

KidSuper s-s 23 by founder and designer Colm Dillane

Even Colm Dillane, founder and designer of KidSuper, just staged his first runway show in Paris as part of the official calendar. “The real reason I came to Paris was for the esteem. When you think of fashion week, you think of Paris,” he pointed.

KidSuper spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

KidSuper spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

That said, some labels still prefer to show their collections in the U.S. during the official fashion week. Plus, there is an event for emerging brands called New York Men’s Day twice a year, created by Erin Hawker of Agentry PR.

This initiative intends to help nurture young talents and bolster the showing of contemporary menswear and genderless collections. Each season, ten emerging brands are featured in a group presentation format over two-hour periods, with five designers debuting in the morning and five designers showing late in the afternoon.

Thom Browne s-s 23

Looks from the Thom Browne spring-summer 23 show at Paris Fashion Week

Each brand presents its collection in its own fully-styled studio space, incorporating décor relevant to the brand identity and collection inspiration.

 

 

Clementina Bianchi
Editor
School
PARIS
Course
Programme
undergraduate-One year courses