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    VFILES' 5 Designers Brought The Cool To NYFW

    with a-trak's sonic assistance

    by Hayden Manders February 11, 2016

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    New York Fashion Week is a dream. The tents may be gone, but that has only amplified the spirit of creativity that vibrates through this city. While many flock to the DVFs and Marc Jacobs of the industry, those who seek something a little more downtown, boundary pushing, and forward-thinking head to VFILES. And man, did VFILES deliver the cool.

    This year marked its sixth year kicking off New York Fashion Week. Five up-and-coming designers, discovered by VFILES, sent down collections that ranged from deconstructed denim pieces, to glam-rock styles, and clothes with burn holes all over them. The atmosphere was next-level turnt, and dripping in downtown New York cool. A-Trak’s DJ skills were out in full force, as he mixed songs catered to each collection.

    But before all that, a marching band walked down the runway before Sophie Beem, one of Parkwood Entertainment’s newly signed artists, performed with a crew of dancers wearing VFILES_XO, the new wearable tech line with Studio_XO. (The clothes were something else, really—like light shows you can wear.) Kylie Jenner sat front row and Tyga gave a surprise performance. But let’s not forget why everyone was there: the new fashion.

    Ahead, meet the five designers lucky enough to be selected by VFILES to present this season. Listen to A-Track’s set, embedded below, while you do. It’s almost like you were there. Almost.


    <p>A scene from Sophie Beem's performance. If you look closely, you'll see the light-up VFILES_XO digs she and her dancers wore.</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    A scene from Sophie Beem's performance. If you look closely, you'll see the light-up VFILES_XO digs she and her dancers wore.

    <p class="p1"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">Kim Shui</span><br /></strong></span>The New York-based designer sent down Ukrainian-inspired sportswear. The beauty look, however, with all its geometric plays on the gradient lip, stole the show.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Why did you get into design in the first place?<br /></strong>I was always interested in fashion, but during college I was an economics and French literature major, and everything that I was studying was directed towards fashion. I had all of these ideas of how I could envision a garment and how I could express my ideas through that. I realized I really wanted to learn how to make clothing and all the techniques. I went to design school right after.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Was that jump nerve-wracking?<br /></strong>It was pretty crazy. I was learning something completely different. It was all hands on: pattern cutting, sewing&mdash;I never touched a machine before. It was learning all of these new things right after.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Did anyone in your life say, &ldquo;What are you doing?&rdquo; How did you power through that?<br /></strong>Of course. I love fashion, but my family was like, &ldquo;Oh, I don&rsquo;t know if design is a plausible career&rdquo;. Then I was like, &ldquo;This is my dream.&rdquo; I went for it. I feel like now is the time.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>What does VFILES represent to you?<br /></strong>For me, it was just an amazing opportunity because I would have not had this opportunity to show anywhere else&mdash;or on this level&mdash;if it weren&rsquo;t for VFILES.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>If you could describe the collection in a sentence, what would it be?<br /></strong>I can give you three words: energetic, bold, and eccentric.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Could you describe it in emoji?&nbsp;<br /></strong>An emoji? Probably that zig-zag one and the fire one.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>When you were designing this collection, did you have anyone in mind and if so, who?<br /></strong>Yes, definitely. I was always looking for designing for someone with a really bold personality, someone with an off-kilter elegance. Something elegant but with a little edge.</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    Kim Shui
    The New York-based designer sent down Ukrainian-inspired sportswear. The beauty look, however, with all its geometric plays on the gradient lip, stole the show.

    Why did you get into design in the first place?
    I was always interested in fashion, but during college I was an economics and French literature major, and everything that I was studying was directed towards fashion. I had all of these ideas of how I could envision a garment and how I could express my ideas through that. I realized I really wanted to learn how to make clothing and all the techniques. I went to design school right after. 

    Was that jump nerve-wracking?
    It was pretty crazy. I was learning something completely different. It was all hands on: pattern cutting, sewing—I never touched a machine before. It was learning all of these new things right after. 

    Did anyone in your life say, “What are you doing?” How did you power through that?
    Of course. I love fashion, but my family was like, “Oh, I don’t know if design is a plausible career”. Then I was like, “This is my dream.” I went for it. I feel like now is the time.

    What does VFILES represent to you?
    For me, it was just an amazing opportunity because I would have not had this opportunity to show anywhere else—or on this level—if it weren’t for VFILES. 

    If you could describe the collection in a sentence, what would it be?
    I can give you three words: energetic, bold, and eccentric. 

    Could you describe it in emoji? 
    An emoji? Probably that zig-zag one and the fire one. 

    When you were designing this collection, did you have anyone in mind and if so, who?
    Yes, definitely. I was always looking for designing for someone with a really bold personality, someone with an off-kilter elegance. Something elegant but with a little edge.

    <p class="p1"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">Anton Belinskiy</span><br /></strong></span>Unlike many designers who are fascinated with dystopian fashion, Belinskiy&nbsp;is interested in utopian. The bold pops of yellow, pink, and red made for some serious eye candy&mdash;not to mention how comfortable the entire collection looked.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Why did you get into design?<br /></strong>I did my first collection in 2009, but I have a background in classic painting. I worked as a stylist and after that, I figured out that I was really prepared to make my own collection.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>How does painting influence the fashion?<br /></strong>If we&rsquo;re talking about the colors, then it&rsquo;s one and the same because I have a good eye for colors. I really know how to work with colors.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>If you could describe the collection in one sentence, what would it be?<br /></strong>It&rsquo;s utopia. an imaginary world where everyone can create in his or her head.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Is there an emoji that can describe that?<br /></strong>The cat with the eyes.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>What does VFILES represent to you?&nbsp;<br /></strong>VFILES is a cool platform to start being represented in New York and in the U.S., because my label is quite famous in Europe. VFILES is a chance to show the label here, on this continent.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p2"><strong>When you were designing the collection, did you have any kind of person in mind?&nbsp;<br /></strong>Mostly friends and close people, since the collection is unisex.&nbsp;</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    Anton Belinskiy
    Unlike many designers who are fascinated with dystopian fashion, Belinskiy is interested in utopian. The bold pops of yellow, pink, and red made for some serious eye candy—not to mention how comfortable the entire collection looked.

    Why did you get into design?
    I did my first collection in 2009, but I have a background in classic painting. I worked as a stylist and after that, I figured out that I was really prepared to make my own collection. 

    How does painting influence the fashion?
    If we’re talking about the colors, then it’s one and the same because I have a good eye for colors. I really know how to work with colors. 

    If you could describe the collection in one sentence, what would it be?
    It’s utopia. an imaginary world where everyone can create in his or her head. 

    Is there an emoji that can describe that?
    The cat with the eyes.

    What does VFILES represent to you? 
    VFILES is a cool platform to start being represented in New York and in the U.S., because my label is quite famous in Europe. VFILES is a chance to show the label here, on this continent. 

    When you were designing the collection, did you have any kind of person in mind? 
    Mostly friends and close people, since the collection is unisex. 

    <p class="p1"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">neurocouture</span><br /></strong></span>A huge congrats are in order to neurocouture, the first winner of VFILES&rsquo; new wearable tech category. This year, founder Nayana Malhotra designed pieces that pair your brain waves with GIFs and then projects the GIFs on to the clothing. It was jaw-droppingly cool.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>What made you get into design?<br /></strong>No one&rsquo;s asked me that yet. I grew up in India where my family was really involved in garment manufacturing and textile design. That was sort of my intro to design, the design world, aesthetics, things like that. I went to Parsons for design management. That helped me get my formal foundation in design theory&mdash;things like graphic design and color theory. That shaped my ideas and background for research and user-based research. That&rsquo;s where I come from in most of my projects.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>How did the tech element get introduced?<br /></strong>The tech element is a little bit more ambiguous. Growing up, technology was a big part of my life. I grew up torrenting and would hack my way into using certain things. I grew up in India and I didn&rsquo;t necessarily have media readily available, but I did have the Internet. That was my solace. When I moved here, I started to get more involved in user research. The space between people and computation kept coming up over and over again, in a lot of things that I did. I started experimenting with things like data visualization, taking workshops, classes, processing, little glitching things that I would do myself aesthetically. It really started small like that and then I worked with Eyebeam (An Art and Technology Lab)&nbsp;and was immersed in this culture of hacking and creating art and technology in that intersection. I also took some classes at ITP and NYU Poly in visual media and the Internet. It&rsquo;s a mishmash of a lot of things.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Well, that&rsquo;s how you get to something outstanding. Wearable tech and wearable fashion are so ambiguous right now, what kind of challenges are you putting up yourself to make textiles less techy looking and more elegant?<br /></strong>Wearable tech gets a kind of bad rap because it&rsquo;s so data-driven. But the data is interesting and exciting because we learn so much about ourselves, but I feel like it&rsquo;s reached the point where it&rsquo;s becoming more and more ambient, with a different kind of politics. It&rsquo;s amazing and it&rsquo;s really cool to see that. It&rsquo;s becoming more about the user and how it&rsquo;s integrated into already existing instincts and intuition as opposed to building on top of something else.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Is this a qualitative or quantitative collection?<br /></strong>We&rsquo;re looking at qualitative. Neurocouture, really, is a system and a platform. It&rsquo;s the starting point for integrating and synchronizing your brainwaves and what you&rsquo;re thinking with what you&rsquo;re wearing. I think that&rsquo;s a really interesting space to sort of play in. It can be developed in a lot of ways, because the sensors are shrinking and becoming a lot more accessible to a lot of people and as that happens, it becomes a lot less clunky and a lot more aesthetic and a lot more beautiful.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>What does VFILES represent to you?<br /></strong>VFILES is crazy because it&rsquo;s a really prestigious platform, but at the same time, it&rsquo;s so disruptive and hacks fashion in this really interesting way. To put projects like Studio_XO in and neurocouture on a platform within fashion week just expands the context and possibilities for that sort.</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    neurocouture
    A huge congrats are in order to neurocouture, the first winner of VFILES’ new wearable tech category. This year, founder Nayana Malhotra designed pieces that pair your brain waves with GIFs and then projects the GIFs on to the clothing. It was jaw-droppingly cool.

    What made you get into design?
    No one’s asked me that yet. I grew up in India where my family was really involved in garment manufacturing and textile design. That was sort of my intro to design, the design world, aesthetics, things like that. I went to Parsons for design management. That helped me get my formal foundation in design theory—things like graphic design and color theory. That shaped my ideas and background for research and user-based research. That’s where I come from in most of my projects. 

    How did the tech element get introduced?
    The tech element is a little bit more ambiguous. Growing up, technology was a big part of my life. I grew up torrenting and would hack my way into using certain things. I grew up in India and I didn’t necessarily have media readily available, but I did have the Internet. That was my solace. When I moved here, I started to get more involved in user research. The space between people and computation kept coming up over and over again, in a lot of things that I did. I started experimenting with things like data visualization, taking workshops, classes, processing, little glitching things that I would do myself aesthetically. It really started small like that and then I worked with Eyebeam (An Art and Technology Lab) and was immersed in this culture of hacking and creating art and technology in that intersection. I also took some classes at ITP and NYU Poly in visual media and the Internet. It’s a mishmash of a lot of things. 

    Well, that’s how you get to something outstanding. Wearable tech and wearable fashion are so ambiguous right now, what kind of challenges are you putting up yourself to make textiles less techy looking and more elegant?
    Wearable tech gets a kind of bad rap because it’s so data-driven. But the data is interesting and exciting because we learn so much about ourselves, but I feel like it’s reached the point where it’s becoming more and more ambient, with a different kind of politics. It’s amazing and it’s really cool to see that. It’s becoming more about the user and how it’s integrated into already existing instincts and intuition as opposed to building on top of something else. 

    Is this a qualitative or quantitative collection?
    We’re looking at qualitative. Neurocouture, really, is a system and a platform. It’s the starting point for integrating and synchronizing your brainwaves and what you’re thinking with what you’re wearing. I think that’s a really interesting space to sort of play in. It can be developed in a lot of ways, because the sensors are shrinking and becoming a lot more accessible to a lot of people and as that happens, it becomes a lot less clunky and a lot more aesthetic and a lot more beautiful. 

    What does VFILES represent to you?
    VFILES is crazy because it’s a really prestigious platform, but at the same time, it’s so disruptive and hacks fashion in this really interesting way. To put projects like Studio_XO in and neurocouture on a platform within fashion week just expands the context and possibilities for that sort.

    <p class="p1"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">Ottolinger</span><br /></strong></span>Christa B&ouml;sch and Cosima Gadient set fire to their new collection. Literally. Every piece that walked down the runway was destroyed in some fashion&mdash;be it burned, distressed stitching or both. It pushed the boundaries of what glamour is. In a way, that gives each piece a life of its own. How they wear with time is a performance in and of itself.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>If you could describe your collection in one sentence, what would it be?&nbsp;<br /></strong>Modern couture.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Okay, and if you could put an emoji to it?<br /></strong>The dragon because it&rsquo;s burning and burned.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Why burning?<br /></strong>We like trying fabrics in a new way.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>It&rsquo;s almost like you want to set the world on fire.&nbsp;<br /></strong>[<em>Laughs</em>] yeah.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Why did you get into design in the first place?<br /></strong>We were studying together and shortly after we teamed up and tried to do something together. It&rsquo;s cool.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>How do you both influence one another?&nbsp;<br /></strong>It&rsquo;s all stuff we would actually wear. It&rsquo;s always thinking, "what are you wearing?" That&rsquo;s the whole discussion. It&rsquo;s always like, when she says "no," I&rsquo;m like &ldquo;Oh, we have to? How do we make it better?&rdquo; So that&rsquo;s how we influence each other.</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>What does VFILES represent to you?<br /></strong>It&rsquo;s a platform for young designers who present themselves to a really big audience at a stage that they wouldn&rsquo;t be able to usually, so that&rsquo;s amazing.&nbsp;</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    Ottolinger
    Christa Bösch and Cosima Gadient set fire to their new collection. Literally. Every piece that walked down the runway was destroyed in some fashion—be it burned, distressed stitching or both. It pushed the boundaries of what glamour is. In a way, that gives each piece a life of its own. How they wear with time is a performance in and of itself.

    If you could describe your collection in one sentence, what would it be? 
    Modern couture.

    Okay, and if you could put an emoji to it?
    The dragon because it’s burning and burned.

    Why burning?
    We like trying fabrics in a new way. 

    It’s almost like you want to set the world on fire. 
    [Laughs] yeah. 

    Why did you get into design in the first place?
    We were studying together and shortly after we teamed up and tried to do something together. It’s cool.

    How do you both influence one another? 
    It’s all stuff we would actually wear. It’s always thinking, "what are you wearing?" That’s the whole discussion. It’s always like, when she says "no," I’m like “Oh, we have to? How do we make it better?” So that’s how we influence each other.

    What does VFILES represent to you?
    It’s a platform for young designers who present themselves to a really big audience at a stage that they wouldn’t be able to usually, so that’s amazing. 

    <p class="p1"><span style="background-color: #ffff00;"><strong><span style="background-color: #ffffff;">Hardeman</span><br /></strong></span>Perhaps the most unexpected joy at VFILES&rsquo; show came with Sophie Hardeman&rsquo;s collection. The Amsterdam-based designer deconstructed denim designs into truly gender-fluid pieces. There were cutouts in revealing places, a dress meant to be worn above the head, and dogs. On top of that, her models didn&rsquo;t just walk, they danced, strutted, and owned their moment. It was infectious fun.</p>
<p class="p2"><strong>Why did you get into design?<br /></strong>Fashion interests me because it&rsquo;s a language many refer to as an art everyone can read. It&rsquo;s 3D, it&rsquo;s performance. That&rsquo;s why I use denim because it relates to everyone. Everybody has jeans in their closet, so when I take that apart, it&rsquo;s like a story or a reference that everyone who has jeans their closet can relate to.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>Who or what most inspires you?<br /></strong>Well, the concept of my collection is to destruct normality or the boredom; that we&rsquo;re all trying to be this certain somebody; that we&rsquo;re all trying to be normal. When actually, we should enhance the things society doesn&rsquo;t want to. That&rsquo;s more exciting, the things that don&rsquo;t really fit. Some of my pieces literally don&rsquo;t fit. That&rsquo;s the design to it, to enhance the discomfort.&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>If you could describe your collection in emojis, what would it be?&nbsp;<br /></strong>What are those? Oh! I&rsquo;m really lazy, I just got an iPhone and I always just swipe all the recent ones, so I&rsquo;m quite ready to answer that!&nbsp;</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>How does VFILES inspire you?<br /></strong>What I love about VFILES is that it&rsquo;s a beautiful, democratic platform that&rsquo;s governed by ourselves. I don&rsquo;t know many other places where that happens. It&rsquo;s working, too!</p>
<p class="p1"><strong>When you were designing, who were you thinking of?<br /></strong>I try to make stuff for everyone. It&rsquo;s all different sizes and on all different kinds of models. I&rsquo;m sure, in the end, not everyone will walk away from the show ready to wear it, but I hope to touch everyone a little bit.&nbsp;</p>

    Photo courtesy of VFILES.

    Hardeman
    Perhaps the most unexpected joy at VFILES’ show came with Sophie Hardeman’s collection. The Amsterdam-based designer deconstructed denim designs into truly gender-fluid pieces. There were cutouts in revealing places, a dress meant to be worn above the head, and dogs. On top of that, her models didn’t just walk, they danced, strutted, and owned their moment. It was infectious fun.

    Why did you get into design?
    Fashion interests me because it’s a language many refer to as an art everyone can read. It’s 3D, it’s performance. That’s why I use denim because it relates to everyone. Everybody has jeans in their closet, so when I take that apart, it’s like a story or a reference that everyone who has jeans their closet can relate to. 

    Who or what most inspires you?
    Well, the concept of my collection is to destruct normality or the boredom; that we’re all trying to be this certain somebody; that we’re all trying to be normal. When actually, we should enhance the things society doesn’t want to. That’s more exciting, the things that don’t really fit. Some of my pieces literally don’t fit. That’s the design to it, to enhance the discomfort. 

    If you could describe your collection in emojis, what would it be? 
    What are those? Oh! I’m really lazy, I just got an iPhone and I always just swipe all the recent ones, so I’m quite ready to answer that! 

    How does VFILES inspire you?
    What I love about VFILES is that it’s a beautiful, democratic platform that’s governed by ourselves. I don’t know many other places where that happens. It’s working, too!

    When you were designing, who were you thinking of?
    I try to make stuff for everyone. It’s all different sizes and on all different kinds of models. I’m sure, in the end, not everyone will walk away from the show ready to wear it, but I hope to touch everyone a little bit. 

    Tags: fashion, nyfw
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