Throughout New York, fans are racing to catch them all. It was inevitable they'd sneak into fashion week, too.
By the third day of New York Fashion Week: Men's, which ended on Thursday, I had spotted one: a man in line for champagne at a poolside presentation by Orlebar Brown, the swimsuit label, staring into his phone, hot on the hunt for Pokémon Go.
The thought came back to me the following day at the spring presentation by Devon Halfnight LeFlufy, a Canadian-born designer based in Antwerp, Belgium. At a presentation at the warehouse-size Skylight Clarkson Sq, the Lower Manhattan hub of men's fashion week, Mr. LeFlufy lined up his models. You could look at them, with their digitally printed, slightly disorienting silk shirts, faux patent leather dusters and slouchy sequined trousers, or you could slip on one of several virtual reality headsets and observe them in another virtual dimension.
There they all were, ready to be inspected in dizzy zoom, as showers of cartoon pills rained down. Was a Poliwag or a Weepinbell lurking, too?
No, as it turned out. "It's a coincidence," Mr. LeFlufy said of the overlap between his virtual-reality presentation and Pokémania. "But I'm aware of the Pokémon. I have to admit, I have a soft spot for them. I kind of wish I'd done it now."
Technically, Pokémon Go, the new game, is augmented, not virtual, reality. But virtual reality is even more appropriate to fashion weeks, which offer their own virtual realities, with or without headsets.
As you bounce from show to show, those multiple realities abut, and so you had Mr. LeFlufy's clever, digital-age mélange bumping up against Parke & Ronen, the skimpy swimsuit company, which showed immediately after.
The incongruity — conceptual European fashion immediately followed by all-American spring break style — was disorienting. Told of the juxtaposition, Mr. LeFlufy had one word: "Whoa."
But of course, Parke & Ronen's is a reality just as virtual, an alternate world of endless summer (apparently between college semesters) populated by the taut and the muscle-bound, who bopped down the runway in tiny trunks and floral-printed shorts, varsity jackets and silly starfish crop tops.
The challenge of men's fashion week, now in its third season, is resolving the balance of commerce and creativity, and the wildly disparate aesthetics and ambitions that come together over the course of four packed days. No fashion week harbors consensus, either ideologically or aesthetically, but the range is particularly broad here. It should come with a whiplash warning.
Several New York designers, noting this, elected to stage their shows away from the hype of the official hub (a runway show every hour: Gotta Catch 'Em All!).
"To be able to separate ourselves is really nice," said Matthew Orley, whose family label, Orley, won the Council of Fashion Designers of America's Swarovski Award for best emerging men's wear designers in June. "We were trying to put our business before our egos. You get caught up with the need to project that you're doing bigger and bigger every season; this felt more appropriate for our business. We don't necessarily need to try to be the centerpiece runway show of fashion week."
He, his brother and his wife commandeered an apartment in TriBeCa, filled it with furniture in excellent and unaffordable taste (Knoll and ABC Carpet & Home were sponsors), and showed their sweet, mildly retro spring collection on three models and a couple of racks. The point was not the show; the point was to show their new collection, larger and more varied than previous ones.
Sponsorship by the Fabric Program, a new venture from the Council of Fashion Designers of America and Milano Unica, the Italian textile fair, allowed them to use new Italian mills and expand past their usual knits. There were appealing, denim-ish poplin pants and shorts made by Larusmiani, and lightweight wool jackets from Tessitura di Crevacuore, with the mill's long archive to draw upon.
Around the corner, in a Broadway office building, Siki Im, the German-Korean designer, was showing his new collections — one for Siki Im, his fashion line; one for Siki Im Den Im, his lower-priced line; and one for Siki Im Cross, his new athletic-wear line — in a small presentation on friends, including Maxwell Osborne of Public School and the artist David Alexander Flinn.
The collection was very much in Mr. Im's usual style: thoughtful, drape-y and layered. (And now, you can run in some of it.) The change was in the presentation.
"It was supposed to be very intimate and personal," he said. "The opposite of New York fashion week, I thought."Continue reading the main story
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