Over 2,000 hypebeasts swarmed the Barclays Center this past Wednesday for the VFILES runway show. Under a fog of Juul smoke was a sea of streetwear, fogging this year’s ongoing New York Fashion Week. Attendees came armored in all the biggest trends: from narrow-frame sunglasses to padlock necklaces, platform Doc Martens to Supreme waist bags.
The VFILES spirit has been family first since its launch in 2012. The CEO of the community-based media company, Julie Anne Quay, founded VFILES on principles of inclusion and its runway show follows suit. Models, makeup artists and designers were all selected from the VFILES community, and although the brand has released collections before, she refers to this endeavour as square one.
Each year, unestablished designers compete for a chance to show their collections on the VFILES runway. This year’s was the 10th show since 2014, each one as unique as the last. The highlights were free admission, a great DJ and a few noteworthy collections.
Overall, the show fell flat in comparison to past presentations, which highlighted chart-topping performers and turned away fluff. The show was ultimately an endless stream of VFILES branding rather than a showcase of five designers. When the collections hit the catwalk, awkwardness ensued as the clothes seemed to interrupt VFILES’ party.
Designer Elena Velez set off the show with promise. Her deconstructed garments had edge — she trademarks many of her pieces with iron fixtures — and maintained a cool and earthy color scheme that set her apart from the other collections.
Following a series of easy-to-forget VFILES musical performances, MARRKNULL, a Beijing-born womenswear brand by Wang Wei and Tim Shi, took the stage. Streetwear influence overwhelmed the majority of the looks and the collection as a whole felt inconsistent. No decipherable theme prevailed among picnic blanket patterns, Canadian tuxedos, a pink bridal dress and a purse that more closely resembled a loofa.
After another displaced round of singers, couture returned. Shuting Qiu, a Chinese-born designer, bases her namesake collection in Antwerp. The highly avant-garde print mixing and structural lack of direction tells a story that Qiu brings in from film, society and personal experience. Though the collection was hard to look away from, little came from making a spectacle for the sake
Sensen Lii’s Windowsen followed Qui’s collection. The looks delved deeper into fashion as a means of performance, with the only positive association being a spotted yellow gown’s similarity to a Yayoi Kusama pumpkin. A furry pool float, the chunkiest chunky sneakers ever made and some wrestling-inspired masks peeked out from the blur of neon and a serious mishmash
VFILES YELLOW LABEL
After nearly three hours of VFILES madness, the brand released its new in-house collection, VFILES Yellow Label. Opening with a sweater that read “We die they do nothing,” the presentation started off as text-heavy sweats mixed with some all-denim looks. These simplistic outfits contrasted the procession of shiny put-together sets and boiler suits that followed, while a serious and more wearable side to the collection was found in monochromatic one-piece dresses. Audience members’ eyes were finally peeled away from social media feeds as Lil’ Kim made a surprise walk down the runway to close out the show.
A version of this article appeared in the Monday, Sept. 10 print edition. Email Amanda Burkett at [email protected]