Yes, New York Fashion Week 2023 is for you, too (but duck the traffic if it’s not)

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By Dan Sears

It’s time for stylists, fashion journalists and celebrities to treat the streets of New York City like their own personal runways.

Most New York Fashion Week activity is for industry insiders — people who can help brands get placed in retail stores, or investors. But you can still peek into the world of high fashion — or the sporty styles on trend this year. The event officially kicks off Friday, though some brands started holding activities earlier this week.

Below is your guide to navigating (or, if you prefer, navigating around) New York Fashion Week, which continues through Sept. 13.

What is Fashion Week?

For those in the fashion industry, September is the real start of the new year. There are actually two New York Fashion Weeks; the other is in early February. Brands, designers and “houses” (another term for fashion-oriented clothing companies) present their newest clothing and accessories collections to retail buyers and the media in shows around the city.

The goal of NYFW, which was created by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, is getting buyers for brick-and-mortar or online clothing stores to pick up offerings for the coming season. Brands and designers are also looking to impress potential investors.

“You see a lot of new looks and ideas that come out of everyone coming together,” Fashionista writer Andrea Bossi said.

Forget fashion. How will this affect traffic?

For the most part, the streets will be busy with people and the limos and luxury trucks on the road might mean it’ll take longer for you to get around.

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The area that’s expected to be the most congested is around Spring Studios in SoHo. A number of runway shows, luncheons and presentations take place at the event venue each year.

According to the city Department of Transportation, the following streets around Spring Studios will be closed until Sept. 13:

  • Varick Street between Laight Street and Beach Street
  • Beach Street between Varick Street and West Broadway
  • Laight Street between Varick Street and Sixth Avenue
  • St. Johns Lane between Laight Street and West Broadway
  • York Street between St. Johns Lane and Sixth Avenue
  • Avenue of the Americas between Laight Street and West Broadway
  • West Broadway between Sixth Avenue and Beach Street

So … can I attend fashion shows?

Most people can’t attend shows in person, but that’s not all there is to Fashion Week.

For the most part, NYFW shows are for people who work in the industry, such as public relations representatives, fashion journalists, models and wardrobe stylists. The idea is that every seat that fills a show is given to someone who can help brands sell clothes. So the easiest way to attend a fashion show is to be invited by the brand’s PR team.

Celebrities will be out and about. Even with the SAG-AFTRA strikes, actors are able to participate in fashion campaigns as well as attend shows. They just can’t promote new film or TV projects.

“They’ll be leaning into fashion even more because it’s not affiliated with SAG,” said Tianni Graham, principal fashion archivist at Thom Browne New York, the luxury fashion brand focusing on men and women’s suits. “We’re going to start seeing more of an influx [of celebrities and actors] because people are just looking for reasons to get dressed up, too.”

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But some shows will be available on a livestream by the Council of Fashion Designers of America. And on Sept. 13, New York-based brand Head of State, which is on the official calendar, will present its latest collection in an exhibition that’s open to the general public.

There are also numerous pop-up events anyone can attend around the city including a clothing swap on Staten Island, a Fashion Week festival taking place uptown, a vintage hip-hop fashion pop up in SoHo and plenty of activations (brand events for consumers).

J.Crew is celebrating its 40th anniversary with an open-to-the-public activation on Sept. 8 and 9 at 89 South St., which will feature interactive games as well as free beverages and snacks.

Dreamland at Central Park is hosting a runway and concert in the park with the hopes of breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest fashion show attendance ever.

Chanel is hoping to galvanize interest in its new Chance perfume with a pop-up diner in Williamsburg that’ll feature games and drinks.

Runway of Dreams Foundation will host an open to the public and free exhibit highlighting the need for more inclusion of disabilities in the fashion industry.

Model Paloma Elsesser is releasing a photo book documenting the journey of her two breast surgeries and will have a book signing on Sunday.

How will people be dressed?

Expect to see a lot of street style. These are some of the trends industry insiders told us to anticipate seeing designers and consumers embrace.

Dressy … sneakers?

The British-Jamaican designer Martine Rose released her soccer-inspired apparel and footwear collection with Nike earlier this summer. Fashion insiders said her square-pointed toe shoes (sneakers? loafers? who knows?!) are among the items they’ve been seeing everywhere. The shoes in their Shox MR4 collection come in “Scuba Blue” or “Safety Orange.”

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Trevor Swain, a New York City-based casting director, said he’s often shocked when older people compliment him on his MR4s.

“You would think that that’s like a shoe that is so different to them, and something that they would keep away from. But the older people in New York usually are the first ones that are like, ‘That’s such a cool sneaker,’” he said. “It’s also really comfortable. I’ve worn it on set. I’ve walked around the city in it. So it’s good to have something that is functional and fashionable.”

Sports jerseys

While soccer is finding a fan base in the U.S., it’s more than likely that someone you know is wearing a soccer jersey simply because it’s on trend right now.

It’s part of a U.K. aesthetic called “blokecore” that’s making its way stateside and is at the intersection of sportswear and streetwear. Soccer jerseys are often paired with Adidas Sambas and oversized jeans or flowy skirts. Nana Kyeibaffour, a creative producer at Michael Kors, said the jerseys aren’t going out of style any time soon.

“They’re so easy to pair it with a skirt or jeans and go about your day looking cool, but also like casual,” she said.

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