For some, fashion is a sport, and Fall Fashion Week is the Super Bowl, the World Series and the Stanley Cup bundled together in one Burberry-print sack.
“The fall fashion season is a pivotal season,” said Kelsy Zimba, fashion designer and entrepreneur. “It’s the longest season and allows designers to be the most creative within the boundaries. Women are also willing to invest more in their fall wardrobe.”
Zimba’s firm, Zimba Collections, is a high-end fashion line founded in 2009. A native of Minnesota, Zimba first began transitioning her line into a brand at the NYDesigns incubator at LaGuardia Community College in Long Island City.
Since she has spent a number of years working in the outer boroughs and has four design studios and factories that turn out her clothing, Zimba has a well-rounded view of designing practical items without sacrificing chicness.
Fashion powerhouse Vogue Magazine, often considered the best fashion publication in the world, calls the fall 2013 fashion season one of duality and opposites attracting.
“For every beaded, bejeweled rocker chick shimmying in an extravagant fur and short skirt, there’s a minimalist sporting a sober dress that gives maximum coverage,” the introduction to the magazine’s fall guide reads. “For every over-the-top fur scarf, there’s a discreet, long-closet-life purse. Everything is being flipped and turned around.”
But while the pieces rocked by models who strut down runways in Tribeca are often avant-garde works of art, many average people find difficulty in taking the trends from the catwalk to the sidewalks of Middle Village or Jackson Heights.
“Everything in those magazines is nice to look at but I literally do not know how I could ever implement it in my own life,” Jules Hendricks, a Long Island City resident, said. “Some of those clothes look cool but let’s be real, there is no way I’m walking around in a clear shower curtain with a bunch of birds sewed onto it.”
Zimba, whose brand became an LLC last year and who is now designing for the fashion hot-spot Saks Fifth Avenue, said that this year, women like Hendricks are in luck because many designers are taking a more classic route.
“Some of the trends we’re seeing in my collection and in general are a lot of classic blouse-and-pants with a clean shape, sort of a power suit,” she said. “We’re using a lot of blacks, whites, grays with splashes of red, and we’re also seeing some powder pinks and baby blues. Usually, a majority of the fall color palate is very serious but I think those two colors are a way of adding a splash of color that isn’t too overwhelming or heavy.”
Many well-known designers such as CGBG, Louis Vuitton and Kate Spade are taking the classic business look from the ’50s and ’60s and adding a touch of flair like feathers, leather or chunky thigh-high boots, and while these items can figure into the thousands, similar designs can be found at nearby department stores and boutiques for far less.
“I think it’s always important to feel good in your clothes and to wear colors and silhouettes but you can still be aware of the trends and reinterpret them for yourself so you’re still current but make yourself look as good as possible,” Zimba said. “If neon green is in, for example, and you don’t look good in neon green, you don’t have to wear it.”
Zimba, herself, doesn’t keep her designs 100 percent in line with what the magazines say is in either.
“I’m aware of what the trends are but I don’t limit myself to that,” she said. “I like to answer the needs of my clients.”
Zimba’s line, which is mostly a collection of suits, cocktail dresses and evening wear, is meant to bring femininity back to the business suit.
“Designing those types of clothing is where my niche has always been,” she said. “I noticed that there wasn’t a lot of women suit offerings that look like quality-tailored items and that’s what I try to do with my designs.”
Zimba attributes the conservative yet trendy look to the state our society is in.
“People in general are in this serious, reflective mood with all the changes happening in the country and in the world right now and that’s reflected in the clothing this year,” she said. “When people are in that mindset, you don’t want to wear something ostentatious or over the top. You want something serious.”
While some, like Zimba, use the trends plastered on billboards and magazine covers as a jumping off point, there are others who disregard the fall trends entirely.
“I think it’s ridiculous,” Ron Goldsman, a 30-year-old businessman from Astoria, said. “They’re clothes. I dress the way I do for work but let me tell you, if I could wear sweatpants and a T-shirt all day, I’d do it, no questions asked. I feel like if it was accepted by society as being ‘in,’ then everyone would just wear what’s comfortable.”
Jess Louis, a 21-year-old college student who lives in Ridgewood, said that fashion should never be dictated by a single brand or designer.
“I love clothes,” Louis said. “I have way too many and I know that, but I think that what people see in magazines is overrated. Wear what you like; wear what stands out. You’re the one the clothes should be pleasing, so who cares if Cosmo magazine doesn’t have my skirt in their ‘top 10 items for the fall’ or whatever? Fashion is about self-expression. You should love what you’re in and love how you feel in it. I think that is more important than fall fashion, spring fashion or whatever. It’s about being confident.”