Parsons presents the future of menswear

by William Buckley

Earlier this week, students nearing the end of their four-year degree in Fashion Design at the world renowned Parsons School of Fashion presented their collections to a private industry panel, representing the capstone experiences of the fashion program.

As students prepared to present their final BFA theses, menswear designer and Parsons professor Raz Keren introduced my fellow panelists (all of whom, myself excluded, were former Parsons’ students): Sarah Cheong, Senior Designer, Perry Ellis International; Holden Akerley, Assistant Designer, Men’s INC Casual Wovens and Denim, Macy’s Merchandising Group; Andrew Rogers, Design Director, Paper Denim & Cloth; and Theodore Allegrini, Senior Designer, Human Habit. That the panel was comprised of ex-students each with a successful career in the New York fashion industry was an exciting testament to the strength of the program, as well as the levels of both the creativity and ability displayed by the students.

More importantly, their collections were astonishing. From the concepts to the patterns, cutting and sewing, many of the collections would not be out of place at major fashion boutiques and department stores. Even the labels and tags on each garment were as good if not better than many brands selling on shop floors right now.

The breadth of style across the collections was also impressive. Collections were influenced by the students’ heritage and experiences: Japanese kimonos; Korean street wear; traditional Chinese jacquard; American heritage. There were ideas that recalled the work of designers like Billy Reid, Comme des Garcons, Jonathan Saunders, Kye and Opening Ceremony, but each collection was decidedly its own. Indeed, the level of commitment across the board was inspiring! (One student took on an apprenticeship at a tattoo shop and presented leather with highly detailed tattoos that she designed and tattooed herself.)

With this level of dedication and talent, it is safe to say that these will be among the designers shaping the way we all dress in the not too distant future.

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