San Francisco Designers Set the Tone at New York Fashion Week


Any San Francisco resident knows that our city has bred some seriously impressive creative minds throughout the years, so it’s no surprise that designers from the Bay Area have made a name for themselves on the New York fashion scene.

Recently commended by Women’s Wear Daily for “keep[ing] American sportswear thriving,” these three SF-natives continue their mission to redefine American fashion with their Spring 2013 collections presented during New York Fashion Week.  

Peter Som was born in San Francisco, a son of two architects, who had a lasting influence on his design aesthetic. From a young age, they instilled in him an appreciation for purity in design – finding elegance in simplicity. The designer, who has often admitted to being “a California boy at heart,” is known for his soft silhouettes and ladylike pieces, which he continued to show this season – but with an added edge.

Som presented pastels, florals, and tweeds that packed a punch, “Courtney Love meets Brooke Astor,” the designer explained. Standout pieces included cocktail dresses with seductive cut-outs, lingerie-inspired bustier tops paired with embellished skirts, and the watercolor print denim he designed in collaboration with Ernest Sewn. 

Derek Lam is another San Francisco-bred designer making his mark on the industry. He was exposed to the fashion industry at a young age, while visiting the garment factory his grandparents owned. He often sat with the seamstresses, and fell in love with fashion as he watched them work. Since debuting his eponymous line in 2003, Lam has delighted editors and customers alike with his luxurious take on sportswear.

For the Spring ’13 season, Lam opened with cut-out dresses and madras day suits, transitioning to ultra slick leather separates and slouchy sweatshirts paired with embellished pencil skirts. Guipure lace tops and skirts added a subtle sensuality to the collection, but it was Lam’s deconstructed trench that really stole the show. He re-imagines the classic coat each season, and this one might be his best to date. His ultra-modern take on an iconic wardrobe staple is a prime example of Lam’s ability to continue to push the language of American fashion forward each season. 

And then there is Alexander Wang. The young designer grew up in the Bay Area and attended several local schools where he made friends with his fashionable classmates including Victoria Traina. He moved to New York to attend Parson’s School of Design, but dropped out his sophomore year to start his line. Since launching his first full collection in 2007, Wang has become the arbiter of downtown cool.

His latest collection was inspired by the ideas of suspension and tension – themes that Wang translated literally. Leather jackets, dresses, skirts, and cotton shirts were slashed and spliced, and then re-attached with delicate sutures. The garments appear to float on the body, suspended in the air. The predominantly black and white collection was cut from a number of exotic materials and embellished fabrics, punctuated with crisp white cotton shirts. It may be Wang’s most daring collection yet, certainly not for the faint of heart. But San Franciscan’s aren’t ones to shy away from a fashion statement – especially one involving leather.  


Photo Credits: Alexander Wang – Photos Courtesy of Monica Feudi/; Peter Som – Photos Courtesy of Marcus Tondo/; Derek Lam – Photos Courtesy of Filippo Flor/

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