Sharp Edits #One

...New York, I love you but you're bringing me down

by Mariel Reed
As a native New Yorker, converting to Londonism has not hindered my pride. In fact, I often reminisce over those seemingly endless summer nights spent strolling through the West Village, teen-gang in tow. One of the things about New York is that it never changes. Last week, I went back for my seasonal visit to find, once again, a familiar stagnancy. Same friends, same situations, same sweltering New York City heat. I knew exactly what to expect and I liked it. With every passing year, we get a little older, go to different bars and clubs, find new relationships, but every time I travel back home, I feel as if I’m entering Neverland. That calming familiarity of knowing exactly what I am in for, knowing that during my time in London I have not missed much, brings me relief.

It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘you’re never too old to go out all night in NYC’ lifestyle. The city survives on its nightlife. But since I was raised in NYC, my teen-gang got caught up in the ‘you’re never too young’ one instead. And even as our PYT years come to an end, there have been no recent developments worthy of headline gossip-page news. Our jaded sense of the world tricked us into believing our invincibility was real and that there was no need to grow up. Even though we may hold respectable jobs by day, by night we morph into spectacular beings that run wild through the streets of downtown Manhattan reliving our prime, over and over.

As much fun as I have had and certainly will have on my frequent returns home, it pains me to see that this effect has not only been put on repeat in my social existence in the Big Apple, but has emerged in the fashion industry there. They are stuck. Big time.

It has come to my attention, after meeting with several of NJAL’s NYC based designers, that the city that never sleeps is in big need of a wake up call. Jewellery designer, Ayaka Nishi explained her struggles with tradeshows to me. The biggest ones don’t even start until NY Fashion Week has ended!

So much of the city’s young talent is not making it across the Atlantic. It is nearly impossible to break through without connections or Mary Poppins’ wallet. Logan Neitzel, who started his career in Seattle, explained his regular contemplation of how much being in NYC has helped him. Even though the move was necessary, the struggle makes it seem fruitless.

So where did my hometown go wrong? Perhaps this is all because New York is solely driven by consumerism. Or maybe it is because NY is over saturated with people trying to make it. But then again, so is London. Nina Zilka of Alder and the former label, The Twentyten, said that it is simply because organizations created to support young designers are just not interested because they cannot see immediate profit. New York used to be the city to go to to follow one's dreams. Now it seems like the place to squash them. Why does the land of promises have a tendency to break them?

London has been hailed as the hub for creativity. Here innovation and avant-garde design shine. What is happening in other cities that we don’t know about? In New York, it’s the unwillingness to change that is seriously affecting the careers of many potential international phenomena. It prevents great designers from rising to the top. Out-dated institutions and stubborn leaders have caused a major fault in the system.

Jules of Bijules and I spent a sunny afternoon discussing possible reasons for this problem which aggravates so many. Why put a halt on creativity? I’d like to think that this issue is caused by an overwhelming amount of competition, but then why aren’t we hearing about it?

Things are starting to look up. For a start, Tara St. James of Study NY has been active in pushing for change. Her school, Guilded, teaches the ins and outs of sustainable fashion design with an approach to shift the industry’s focus away from the monotonous moneymakers. Pratt Institute too has dedicated its fashion department to retaining the rights of the creatives. Jennifer Minniti, chair of the fashion department at Pratt says it's best to teach young designers from the beginning--teach them how to deal with big industry before they enter it. New York, it’s time to step your game up. It is definitely time for a revolution. Over-throw the dictators and let's start building a better, more opportune environment for the emerging designers of my favourite city so they can get the attention they deserve!

Be sure to watch this space, as I will be fortnightly discussing my current findings on the state of the industry and life in general!