“My grandfather was a truck driver,” said Mr. McNicol, who throughout the creation of this debut collection held on to his 9 to 5 job as a medical underwriter. “My grandfather kept his clothes for 20 or 30 years, and that really speaks to me in terms of how I see my designs.”
If there were echoes in a show of what Mr. McNicol called “leisure wear for artists,” of boxy silhouettes familiar from designs by talented men’s wear practitioners like Evan Kinori (and of immortals like Helmut Lang and Jil Sander), their quiet confidence was all his own. They also resisted the easy temptation among newbies to deploy all kinds of kitchen-sink styling gimmicks.
“I’m not really interested in having an Instagram moment,” Mr. McNicol said. “My ethos is more of a blue-collar, lunch pail, Midwestern durability kind of thing.”
Maybe it’s an aftereffect of spending 18 months in enforced isolation, but introspectiveness was a conspicuous feature of this edition of NYMD. True, there were some befuddlements — notably an over-referential collection (Gullah culture and the Hamar tribe of Ethiopia’s Omo River valley were both influences) from Aaron Potts of APOTTS, a seasoned designer who is quietly charting a singular course in American fashion.
What stood out at NYMD, however, was the restraint shown in, for instance, a tight grouping created by Rwang Pam, 30, and Mark Kim, 32, of ONYRMRK, that was inspired by both 16th-century doublets and the designers’ desire to conceptualize their work less in terms of “stylistic bells and whistles,” as Mr. Pam said.
Like many of us, Mr. Pam and Mr. Kim spent the last year contemplating new beginnings. “Making the collection, we found we were thinking about childhood a lot,” said Mr. Pam, who was born in Nigeria to parents who are both Christian pastors. “I’m queer, and in the culture I’m from there was a lot of stigma around that,” said the designer, whose Los Angeles label was founded just before the onset of the pandemic.