New York Fashion Week (NYFW) is often seen as the best thing to happen to the fashion world since the rise of Gucci. Established in 1943, NYFW is a 7-9 day event where the world’s best brands showcase their collections for the upcoming seasons. Although NYFW is considered one of the most important fashion events of all time, as a Harry Styles fan, I beg to differ. Given that not a single NYFW post popped up on my Instagram feed this year (instead, it’s filled with pictures and videos of “Stylers” living their best lives) I believe the real fashion show has been right in front of us all along, and it’s none other than Styles’ Love On Tour.
Love On Tour, Styles’ 39-city tour around the United States, welcomes audience members from all walks of life and reminds people what fashion is truly about; original designs, thrift store finds, and creative expression in a judgment-free, safe space that NYFW could only dream of having. While NYFW showcases influencers like Addison Rae and Bretman Rock glamorously showing off luxury brands, Love On Tour is so much cooler — plus, it’s more in touch with Gen Z than NYFW could ever hope to be.
Although influencers are usually easy to spot at NYFW, this year, their “blah” looks got them lost in the crowd. TikTokers like Davis Burleson could’ve stepped up their outfits, and many influencers wore everyday sweaters, polos, and maxi dresses that just felt…anticlimactic. Overall, it felt like even influencers were holding back at NYFW this year, which was disappointing considering all of the hype. On the other hand, at Love On Tour, you’re guaranteed to experience style, a fun ambiance, and dramatic flair, and you don’t need to be a famous influencer to get in and enjoy it. Plus, the one-of-a-kind designs that fans are rocking are way more exciting than any designer collection.
Sorry not sorry, but the fan fashion at Love On Tour is 10x better than what we saw at NYFW this year. This is due, in part, to the fact that Styles himself is a fearless leader in fashion — just look at his white, button-up pants and pink suspenders on the Fine Line album cover and his leather suit and green feather boa combo at the Grammys. When Styles expresses his creativity through fashion, it gives his fans permission to do so, too — which is a freedom you don’t always see at stuffy shows like NYFW. Whether Styles’ fans are rocking fruit-inspired dresses, colorful makeup, 70s-inspired fringe jackets, or wearing something they created from scratch, it’s clear that they take direct inspiration from his artistry and feel empowered to hop on trends, rather than feeling like fashion is out of reach. At NYFW, it seems like influencers and audience members are trying to fit into a sophisticated box, wearing the clothes and brands they think they have to, instead of the ones that make them happy.
Fashion shows should bring awareness to exciting changes and growth in the fashion community while celebrating joy and individuality. Plus, after the year we’ve had, we are finally getting the opportunity to let loose and have fun. But when I watch videos of NYFW, everything seems stiff and rehearsed. We need to normalize the “fun” in fashion again. Less bougie ballgowns and more sunflower bell bottoms, please. What I love about Styles is that he encourages people to freely express themselves through fashion and what it means to them, rather than adhere to a standard of what fashion “should” look like.
In my opinion, what was missing from NYFW this year was excitement. Rather than presenting fresh looks, everything on (and off) the runway seemed very 2017. As a Gen Z woman studying fashion, I want to see risks — what about watermelon bra cutouts or leather tuxedos and four inch stilettos? I’d imagine that even Instagram influencers want the chance to “go big or go home” at an event like NYFW, but I just didn’t see much of that this year.
Being a college woman in the fashion industry, it’s hard to feel represented by events like NYFW. The whole thing appears to be geared toward people who have always been producing, wearing, designing, and funding the growth of high-end fashion, rather than representing young, enthusiastic fashion-lovers who simply want to curate their own style and express themselves. I appreciate how Styles’ Love On Tour is a fun, fashion-forward event that supports any way of life, sexual orientation, and identity — it’s a space for anyone to feel accepted and show off their unique style.
Whether Styles is showing up to the Met Gala in a sheer Gucci blouse and black nail polish or appearing on the cover of Vogue in a designer ball gown, he continues to redefine fashion and encourage his fans to have fun with their creative expression. So, if you’re a member of Gen Z and looking for a true source of fashion inspiration, look past fancy NYFW and straight to Styles and what he’s created with Love On Tour.