ARTICLE ZOE CHODOSH
NOTABLE CREATIVES UNITE AT THE W HOTEL TO CELEBRATE NEW YORK CITY AND ITS SCARY/EXCITING FUTURE
August 4th, 2014. Last week, Yahoo Fashion's Joe Zee moderated a conversation presented by Liberatum at the W Hotel to examine NYC's impact on creative industries and artistic development. The panel consisted of Karen Elson, Paul Haggis, Prabal Gurung, Karim Rashid, and Stacey Engman, all of whom attribute a portion of their successes to the city that never sleeps. V heard anecdotes about fledgling artists working their way to top jobs in fashion and entertainment and how the mean streets of NYC and the people that walk them helped shape their trade.
While most sentiments about the city were positive, the more meaningful insights came from a place of nostalgia about the powerful rawness that New York once represented. Before there were "Citibanks and Starbucks on every corner," NYC was much more of a creative hub, Rashid claimed. The conversation turned to an exploration of what, exactly, caused the dirty drug dens of Chelsea to transform into juice bars, and if the vast decrease in the city's crime and grime created a less nurturing environment for creatives. Artistic passion doesn’t logically need unkempt streets in order to flourish, but taking into account the reason NYC has cleaned up so much in the past fifteen years, unless you also factor in the mean streets' clean backing ($$$$). Some of the speakers were adamant that the increasingly monetarily-driven city caused artists to favor the dollar over their own expression. Others said that creative hubs have migrated to more forward-thinking cities like Berlin, and New York is simply moving slower, in a more commercial direction.
Prabal Gurung, who found his success in high fashion relatively recently—and in New York City—didn’t necessarily disagree with the claims of those with more experience, but brought up the fact that developing an occupation in the internet age poses an entirely new set of threats and benefits to the industry. The net gives designers a kind of revolutionary exposure to buyers, editors, and consumers that was previously impossible, but also reaches the minds and fingertips of those whose intentions are more self-indulgent.
Originality, especially in fashion, is hard to come by these days, and with lookbooks traveling, untethered, about the web, it’s easy for someone who just wants to make a few bucks to slap their name on a variation of someone else’s design and sell it to unsuspecting customers. Is it really the decrease of so-called starving artists living on the streets of New York that’s watering down creative industries today, or is it the editorial photo that’s been reblogged, retweeted, and reposted so many times that its metadata no longer tells users of its origin? The discussion wasn't 100% bleak—when this many complaints come up in panels such as this, it's usually a sign of big change. May the conversation continue.