Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week This week was the debut of New York Fashion Week: Men's. Sixty designers and some big-name sponsors showed up. Jacki Lyden went behind the scenes for The Seams, our series about clothing as culture.
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Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week

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Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week

Men Strut Their Stuff At Their Very Own New York Fashion Week

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RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

Men's fashion is having a huge moment. Higher sales, more designers, and this week, a first - Men's Fashion Week in New York. Just men this time. Here's designer Thom Browne.

THOM BROWNE: I do show my men's collection in Paris, but it being the inaugural season for Men's Fashion Week here in New York, it was really important for me to be here and to support men's fashion here in New York.

MONTAGNE: From "The Seams," an occasional series about clothing as culture, Jacki Lyden reports.

JACKI LYDEN, BYLINE: Black men, Asian men, white men, a guy in a turban, all stood side-by-side in front of what was designed to look like the wall of a police lineup.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Number one, step forward.

LYDEN: The models wore looks from the spring 2016 collection by Public School, one of the most buzzed about labels in the fashion industry right now.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Number two, step forward.

LYDEN: Dao-Yi Chow is the co-founder of Public School.

DAO-YI CHOW: So we wanted to draw that parallel where basically everyone is dressed the same, side by side. Everyone is the same. The message is about unity and solidarity, especially in these times.

LYDEN: To Chow, fashion is social commentary. He and his co-founder have been nurtured by the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which is putting on the event in New York - Men's Fashion Week. Public School has also been named the creative directors at DKNY this year. One reason menswear is having such a big moment - social media. Bruce Pask is the men's fashion director for Bergdorf Goodman.

BRUCE PASK: Information makes for a really confident and curious shopper. I think that information has served to really educate and excite a male shopper, and I think that is great for the business in general.

LYDEN: The market-analysis firm Ibisworld says that for menswear, sales in brick-and-mortar stores are growing at 4 percent a year. Online, sales are even better. There's an average growth rate of 17 percent, each year, over the past five years, and the CFDA wants to capitalize on this. In the past, menswear has shown with the women in September. Now, they get their own shows, with big sponsors like Amazon Fashion and Cadillac, who want to support American design. And no designer is more all-American than Todd Snyder. The Iowa native is suddenly breaking out after 20 years in fashion. This week, he spent $75,000 putting on his biggest show yet, with a large audience and deep bench of international buyers and editors.

TODD SNYDER: I really wanted to make it the best I can just because I felt eyes are upon us and we need to represent the U.S. well. I feel like I'm in Olympic battle. You're always up against the Italians, the French or U.K. or Japan. So it's always important to, like, show your best.

LYDEN: It's also important to show up, as a huge variety of people did - athletes, musicians, actors and the people who dress them, like Memsor Kamarake, the stylist for actor Anthony Mackie, who played Falcon in the last "Avengers" movie.

MEMSOR KAMARAKE: I think it's great to check out the up-and-coming, bubbling talent. So I just love if there's a name I don't know, to go and check it out. Having such a wide range of talents on display just makes my job a hell of a lot easier.

LYDEN: New York Fashion Week: Men's looks to become as hot a ticket as New York Fashion Week: Women. It's not quite gender equity. Womenswear is still a lot bigger, but it's a big leap forward. For NPR News, I'm Jacki Lyden.

MONTAGNE: And you can hear more from "The Seams" on its podcast, theseams.org.

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