Jonathan Simkhai loves a sporty look. Basketball jerseys, baseball jackets—all those tomboy staples are well represented in his limited repertoire. (The designer, a member of the CFDA fashion incubator, launched his collection in 2010. This was his second fashion week presentation.) For Fall 2013 Simkhai went beyond the easy references—although there were plenty of varsity jackets on hand—and looked to early-eighties ska for inspiration.
As expected from an eighties-tinged collection, black and white was the dominant color story. It was there in boyish overcoats detailed with charcoal plaid panels on the shoulders, black leather track pants, and a black-and-teal patchwork leather sweater with scrunched-up knit sleeves. The Specials and the English Beat were certainly on Simkhai's mind, represented in the checkerboard patterns that mimic some of those bands' album covers, printed on T-shirts in black and white.
For those who preferred Squeeze over ska, there were plenty of other looks. A Cosby-style sweater over a flippy teal leather skirt would work for lovers of all things quirky-cool (it was one of many items with a digital print). There was also a black patchwork bomber that should suit those prefer to play it safe. Simkhai collaborated with Shoes of Prey on creeper-style sneakers, and showed oversize eyewear made with Grey Ant: the latter made the best use of the checkerboard.
The tiered ruffle skirts detracted from the otherwise solid set, but overall, Simkhai's vision is strong. If his baseball-cap-and-jacket-clad audience is any indication, his signature look is what the crowd wants. "I know this sounds kind of pathetic, but I'm obsessed with fashion," he said at his Milk Studios presentation on Saturday night. "I love it." Not pathetic at all, just passionate—no bad thing in a young designer.