VFiles' debut runway show was not your average fashion-week event—but then again, VFiles isn't your average fashion Web site. The online cultural network, which attracts about 1.4 million page views a month, has begun to develop its own streetwise subculture, and, in an attempt to support young designers—and what its founder, Julie Anne Quay, describes as "the new world of fashion"—the site held a competition. The winners, who sent their Spring collections down the virtual platform's IRL catwalk at Eyebeam Gallery last night, will be stocked in the VFiles shop.
The space was packed to the rafters—not with editors and socialites but with members of the VFiles community. Street-gear junkies, club kids in see-through frocks, a middle schooler snapping shots on his iPhone, and fashion's reigning social-media czar, Diesel's Nicola Formichetti, tapped their toes to a heavy-metal-and-hip-hop mash-up, waiting for the show to begin. Sam MC London's geisha-inspired shorts and T-shirts, which were connected to sweatshirts that hung around the waist, were first out of the gate. "This has gotten us a lot of exposure in America," said the line's London-based designer, Sam McWilliams. He explained that his range has been well received in Europe and Asia but that he was having trouble breaking into the U.S. market.
Next up was another London-based designer, Steven Tai, who, having graduated from Central Saint Martins, presented a technically impressive range of heat-bonded, screen-printed, puff-painted wares inspired by a British bio-dome and pixilated art. "Our aesthetic is kind of geeky," said Tai, adding that he visits VFiles when he "wants to see what the kids are doing."
Gypsy Sport showed a cultural menagerie that blended an urban aesthetic with Eastern garb—think bedazzled do-rags and plaid sari-basketball-short hybrids. And their fellow New Yorkers Elizabeth Ammerman and Eric Schlosberg, of Ammerman Schlösberg, sent out looks crafted from rosebud, baby-blue, and black PVC. Covered in bows and cut with slits that revealed the models' posteriors, the tiny dresses resembled what Alice might wear if Wonderland were a sex club. "Fashion is missing a 'weird' element," said Ammerman backstage. "And VFiles introduces that."
Following the show, the likes of Cam'ron, A$AP Rocky, Chanel Iman, and YouTube's favorite satirical fashion girl, P'Trique, embraced the weirdness at an after-party in a subterranean club on Gansevoort Street. "I love VFiles because they're nasty," said the Internet star, wearing his signature blonde wig and a lamé frock. "They make fashion accessible, and they make it not such a snooty, up-your-nose kind of thing." His assessment reflected Quay's intentions. "We wanted to show: Here we come, here these guys come," she said. "We believe in the future of fashion, and the future of fashion is online—it's Tumblr and what kids are sharing on their [Facebook] walls. And it's important for the traditional fashion community to acknowledge that."