Monday, 18 June 2012

New York Mentality

Taken by me on my BB
(not the best quality ever)

I took this picture last summer when I went to New York for Thanksgiving and I don't want to boast, but... I LOVE this picture! I think it captures the absolute essence of New York style. The architecture in the background has the classic New York fire escape with brick facade and of course there is the all important yellow taxi.  The particular intersection is found in the heart of Soho, one of my favourite areas in all New York. I had been to New York about four times previously but the only time I was in Soho I was too small to remember. It wasn't perhaps the Soho I had been dreaming about, I was thinking more of large scale Queen West (for anyone who is familiar with Toronto). There weren't quite as many independent boutiques as I was hoping for as it has been some what taken over by the high end big name stores such as Ralph Lauren and Chanel. The architecture in the area was really amazing though. These are some more photos I took on my phone while in Soho.

Soho NY

Something I find particularly funny are the 'Don't Honk' signs posted everywhere. The ironic thing was the man driving in front of us creating a new top ten pop song with his car horn.

Soho NY

Soho NY
I found Central Park a great place to people watch because it was so calming to just sit an look at the world go by. It also gave me a feel for a completely different kind of New York.

Central Park NY

For months now I've been trying to understand what makes New York fashion tick, how can that essential style be defined? During my musing I started to think of all the most iconic American fashion designers and what I came up with was one big mix. Naming off the big labels I came up with Calvin Klein, Diane Von Furstenburg, Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Oscar de la Renta, Tom Ford, Marc Jacobs and I am sure the list goes on. The thing that really struck me was the jumble of ethnicities and backgrounds these people came from. There are very few 'all American' designers out there, and for those who were born in America they are generally second generation immigrants coming from families very much linked with their homeland.

Oscar de le Renta
Ready to Wear

Oscar de la Renta is known to dress the impossibly upperclass Manhattan society in his simple, chic designs. As much as he is considered an American based designer his roots were laid in the far off countries of the Dominican Republic and Spain, where he worked with Balenciaga in his youth. He then proceeded to work in Paris with some of the top fashion couturiers of the time. All of this is evident in his collections. de la Renta moved to NY because he new where the future of fashion lay and he wanted to get that jump start.

Even the most American of American designers doesn't fit exactly what I'm looking for. Ralph Lauren, although being praised with giving Americans a look of their very own, still doesn't provide that new world definition needed. Many of his clothes play off of british design and sensibility, and lest we forget the very british polo player who has become the signature of this otherwise American designer. In addition to all that, Lauren is still too classic feeling without enough of that New York punch that really drives the city.

My conclusion is that in order to put one's finger on the pulse of New York one must consider these three different elements:

1. The true Americano- Because many of the "American" fashion designers of today are immigrants or children of immigrants they often bring a foreign flare to their clothes.

2. Uptown vs Downtown- Soho and Manhattan might be on the same island but their intrinsic style and vibe are different. Different designers cater to different neighborhoods. 

3. Fashion aficionados- The truly fashion conscious, in the sense of following trends, are more likely to choose something along the lines of Prada, Gucci, or Dolce&Gabbana. In the more arty areas of NY upcoming fashion designers might be more worn. 
(The ├╝ber stylish blogger from Atlantic-Pacific epitomizes what I'm going for)

In the end I think what makes New York, New York is it's love of high end and exclusivity paired with the muscle go-go-go sensibility New York is known for world wide. Street fashion often plays of big chain stores such as Aeropostle or the slightly more upscale H&M hit with some crazy pair of boots. 

I'd be interested in how any of you interpret New York fashion and what you associate with American style. 


  1. one of my life goals is to spend at least 1 year living in NY. hopefully it comes true. and yea i agree the don't honk sign is kinda hilarious. if we enforced such rule in Indonesia, the government would be rich instantly hahaha


  2. we despretaly wanna go to new york one day! it looks so amazing!

    and it's not strange you haven't heard of the designers yet, it's new talent from a dutch fashionschool who graduaded this year :D


  3. I found this definition of New York Mentality on urban dictionary pretty funny-

    The belief that New York is the center of the world and that nothing more than 2 hours outside of New York City is a part of America.

    A misguided perception of non-New Yorkers and the belief that others are provincial because they don't live in NYC.

    The idea that everything you could ever want is in NYC and there is no good reason to ever leave.
    New Yorker: So where are you from?
    Maryland-er: I'm from Baltimore.
    New Yorker: What do you mean Baltimore? I thought you were going to say Brooklyn. Baltimore? That's so far away, that's like in the middle of nowhere!
    Maryland-er: Dude, it's like 3 hours from here.
    New Yorker: I know! It's so far!
    Maryland-er: Man, you have such a New York Mentality.

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  5. I just got back from NYC myself. I find it a bit too label-conscious (much more so than here in London). I really like your observation that most "all-American" designers have a strong immigrant connection.


I'd love to know what your thoughts are! I will do my best to visit your blog.
I speak english, french, and a little spanish.

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