Got a NYFW-related question? Noah Kozlowski is the man to know. As director of designer relations for IMG’s fashion events and properties, Kozlowski is a fountain of knowledge when it comes to not only the who’s who, what’s next, but why it all matters on a global scale. We called him up to hear about the programming that NYFW: The Shows has in store and to learn what big names of tomorrow are on his radar. Take notes!
We’re excited to hear more about The Art of Rodarte…what do we need to know?
It’ll be an immersive experience and a retrospective of Kate and Laura Mulleavy’s designs throughout the years, produced by IMG Focus, presented by Afterpay, and powered by Yahoo technology; it’ll show some of their most iconic collections, costumes, and designs—you’ll have to come and check it out to find out more!
You’ve once again partnered with In The BLK too.
We’re partnering with the In The BLK designers—House of Aama, KHIRY, and Third Crown—for a group show. The designers will all be participating in a showcase in partnership with Color Of Change, Endeavor Impact, and UPS in celebration of the first anniversary of the #ChangeFashion initiative.
How is IMG committed to giving diverse talent a platform?
We believe the democratization of Fashion Week. Fashion Week is at the forefront of consumer entertainment; it’s truly evolved to be a marketing platform and we pride ourselves in the ability to allow designers to market their collections. This season, 55% of brands are either led by BIPOC or are women-owned.
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What does your role entail?
I have the unique opportunity of working with designers year-round, through the broader Endeavor network. There are a number of ways we can work with designers. In my role, I have the opportunity of finding new ways for them to [grow] and establish themselves by arming them with resources, helping them with production support, access to talent, access to licensing, content, and creating experiences.
We’ve always wondered, the second NYFW wraps are you already working on the next season?
There’s never enough time! NYFW is an amazing time for talent discovery, so [during the schedule] I’m really paying attention to the designers and who’s the next big thing. Also, what are the new initiatives? What are new ways that we can support these designers year-round? All the work starts at NYFW. Some of the designers we just started working out, we’ve been speaking with for years!
With so much going on during the week—how do you anticipate who is, as you said, the ‘next big thing’?
It’s all about having a unique point of view and finding the brands who are storytelling. It’s about the collection and the story. Not every runway show looks the same, and a digital release is as valid a means of participation. Maisie Wilen is someone we’ve been watching and paying attention to for a long time. She started at Yeezy and this is now her second live show. We just announced a collaboration we brokered for her, with Keds.
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Her show sounds really exciting. What can we expect?
Without giving too much away, it’s going to be a really innovative show. Especially with the expanded innovation capabilities from Yahoo. Special hybrid events are our favorite; where there’s not only a physical touch point but a digital extension so that it can be experienced from anywhere. We see the most impactful releases these days are the ones that follow that hybrid model; with the ability for press and industry to experience it in real life. NYFW is a marketing platform— and the most important fashion event in the US—so it’s more important than ever to consider the digital extension so that people around the world can experience it. This year, we have designers from 18 countries, so we’ve definitely seen an increase in international interest.
Where do you get the ideas for partnerships and programing?
NYFW is an opportunity for storytelling, so we consider what important stories we should be sharing thematically and how we can create programing to share that with a global audience; particularly a fashion audience. It’s exciting because we’re the home of the new vanguard, but also the home of contemporary designers. You have someone like Nicole Miller who’s in her 40th year, but also designers like Bach Mai who’s showing for the very first time. Through the expanded technological capabilities of NYFW, through releasing content and live streaming online, and an increase in shoppable collections: it’s all new and what adds to the excitement of NYFW.
Is there an increase in brands looking to do shoppable collections? We saw 11 Honoré is.
Coming out of the pandemic, we’ve seen an increased interest to shop off the runway—especially with Afterpay, the presenting partner of NYFW. With Fashion Week being a form of entertainment, designers have a competitive advantage in speaking to their customers when they give them the opportunity to shop collections right away. So we have seen more designers taking that level of engagement into account. Of course, brands need to do so without jeopardizing their business goals, wholesale cycle, and when they’re releasing seasonal collections.
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What makes a partnership the right fit, and not just something buzzy or headline-making?
There are a number of considerations. I’m personally very excited about challenging the status quo, and introducing brands to designers they may not be familiar with. Designers who might become a star overnight and who brands may not be able to access tomorrow. It’s important to consider what a designer’s business goals, interests, visions, and dreams are. While we’re speaking to a brand, we’re able to bring our insider knowledge to the table to help them secure a deal. I’m very excited about Maisie’s collaboration with Keds—it’s the start of more to come. Some past partnerships include Rodarte and Amazon Luxury; Rodarte and Mastercard; LaQuan Smith and Maison Kitsuné; Christian Cowan and Motorola; Christian Cowan and Yahoo; and many brands with Afterpay. They’re just a few examples that come to mind.
Without being biased, can you tell us about who you’re excited about this season?
It’s my favorite question to answer—I hope you don’t mind a long list! Ashya; a Black female designer who just dropped a beautiful accessories collection with Michael Kors; Zankov, who’s also Christopher John Rogers’ knitwear designer; Bach Mai, a Vietnamese designer via Texas who is creating haute couture in America; Et Ochs, the former counterpart to Carlie Cushnie presenting her own namesake label; Lisa Von Tang, a sustainable Singaporean designer; KGL, a female designer from India who studied at Parsons and trainer with Bibhu Mohapatra launching in the US market; Marrisa Wilson,a Black female designer formally at Rag & Bone who is presenting a see now buy now collection with a NFT for her debut runway show; and also House of Aama, Khiry, and Third Crown who will be all participating in the In The BLK Showcase powered by Change Fashion this season. There’s also Dauphinette, Interior, Judy Turner, Theophilio, and I always love what Adeam contributes.
What about the brands who’ve been showing for several years now?
I’m also very excited about the IMG Fashion Alliance shows this season—it’s our commitment to contributing towards New York and NYFW and supporting these designers through direct partnerships. Some of those members include Altuzarra, Brandon Maxwell, Jason Wu, Prabal Gurung, Proenza Schouler, Sergio Hudson, Markarian, and Telfar.
Do you try to go to everything that’s on the calendar?
I really try to make it to as much as possible. If you’re able to be in the room, there’s nothing really quite like the live experience. We’re working with over 130 designers, so there are quite a few! But I see the calendar as an opportunity for me to work with brands and give them a spotlight.
Last question, how do you get through the schedule?
La Colombe coffee! It’s a marathon.