PFW: Streetwear, the Heart of Philly Style
By Nathalie Cavallo
Photos by Will Stickney
Philadelphia’s Fashion Week might not be as sophisticated as Paris, as considerable as New York, or as acclaimed as Milan. But if there’s one thing Philly is notorious for: it’s streetwear that feels organic. Not just in the trends displayed on the runway, but also on the models, in the inspiration of the designers, and interpreted through attendee’s outfits.
So, it’s no surprise that the line for the streetwear show this Thursday wrapped around the block. The venue was moved from the mall lobby to an exclusive entrance on 8th and Market streets, completely concealed to outsiders by thick black curtains and two sets of doors.
After passing through a formal check-in desk and receiving a color-coded wristband based on seating, visitors pass through the massive reclaimed department store that’s bare except for its series of 6-foot chandeliers. Attendees stop at the walk-up Hard Rock Cafe bar that offers $8 beers or pose in front of various PFW backdrops.
Sheer plastic curtains hang in a box in the center of the lobby in an artistic demonstration where models and attendees can be blasted with colored dye.
Stands for the bigger designers are set up by a stage where a local rap artist in white leather pants with black embellishments and a matching fringe jacket sets the streetwear tone for the night.
To the right, a white tarp for a runway, protected with cardboard, meanders through a maze of chairs four rows deep. VIP guests are ushered to their front row seats. An elevated stand awaits eager photographers.
Seven p.m. might be an early arrival time for attendees, but some models have been here since 10 a.m.
Backstage is teeming with energy. As reporters, we might blend in, but we don’t go unnoticed: a camera goes a long way in a room filled with models.
Everyone itches to get their picture taken, posing in elaborate ways to display the designer’s looks for the night, which range from a male model in a jersey with crosses and printed pants, to a female model with asymmetric neon green and pink eyeshadow, silver reflective pants, a green knit bikini top, and 4-inch platform combat boots.
It’s hectic, but not hostile. Camaraderie fills the room backstage, as designers and stylists exchange Instagram accounts, models introduce themselves to reporters, and the stage crew smiles––so characteristic of the City of Brotherly Love.
As models take the runway, the Philadelphia vibe settles over the audience: it is contrastingly different from all other Fashion Weeks. It’s not stuffy, overbearing, or high-browed.
It’s models that look like Philadelphians––the majority are black, edgy, and bold. (One model’s hair has neon green tips, all-too-similar to Jaelyn Mills.) It is clothes that are from Philadelphia––inspired by the looks designers experience on the streets. It is attendees who are Philadelphians––they don Eagles flat brim hats, even to a fashion event.
Thursday night’s brands to notice: Cologe models in distressed jeans and hoodies. Mind of Cool Rumors models flex bright-colored prints with street style elements, like baby shoes tied around models necks.
Society Robot models strut in all neon cut-outs. Himalaya Quet puts on a great show: dawning vinyl hoodies to pumping rap beats.
The night peaks with Philly’s newest up-and-coming rapper, SimXSantana, making a guest appearance to close the show in partnership with designer Lamont Lateef.
Attend a fashion show, and a rap concert breaks out. If that isn’t Philly enough for you, the crowd left to watch the Eagles dominate against the Packers… in Green Bay. Thursday night was a great streetwear fashion show, but an even better celebration of Philadelphia.