Local Labels

Though their names are known worldwide, these designers still call New York home

Be it the fast pace, the thriving arts scene, or the collective willpower of its populace to succeed, there’s something about New York that sparks a certain creativity. These four fashion designers who hail from its boroughs further attest this, each with their own unequivocal style that keeps the city’s fashion scene ever at the forefront of what’s to be desired.

Like the Mark Zuckerberg of fashion, since Alexander Wang dropped out of Parsons to pursue his own line, he’s been the darling of the image-conscious young set, building an empire on androgynous basics that never go out of style. Slouchy tees, platform sandals, simply studded bags—Wang’s pieces epitomize downtown style, housed, of course, in a downtown Soho flagship. Visitors are greeted into the expansive, minimalist white store by a black metal cage, redesigned seasonally into a different art installation of sorts. A black mink hammock and black leather couches additionally speak to comfortable luxury with an edge—just like his style. (Grand St. at Mercer St.)

Also hailing from Parsons, Mark Badgley and James Mischka have been partners in design and in life since 1988 when they launched their eponymous line Badgley Mischka of glamorous eveningwear that immediately caught the eyes of fashion editors, stylists and celebrities alike. Despite their New York legacy, the boys are known for their Old Hollywood glamour that is decadently glitzy without being tacky—hand-beading and embroidered embellishments adding a human touch to pieces that spare no expense. They opened their first and only New York store in 2013 (in an uptown townhouse, naturally) where their gowns hang alongside coats, separates, bathing suits, shoes and accessories, with plush-carpeted dressing rooms to try it all on and a staff that is known to make shoppers feel like royalty. (64th St. nr. Madison Ave.)

There is perhaps no better embodiment of a New York self-made man than Ralph Lauren. Born to Jewish immigrant parents in the Bronx, he worked briefly for Brooks Brothers before starting a small tie company, working out of the Empire State Building until Neiman Marcus bought 100 dozen of his neckwear pieces, launching him into success. Now, his work lives in an elaborate French Revival mansion built by a Gilded Age heiress. A firm believer that quality evaluates with time, Ralph’s top-tier collections of polo shirts, suites, tuxedos, eveningwear, and accessories feel right at home here among exotic-wood walls, marble floors, and perfectly-mannered personnel. (Madison Ave. nr. 72nd St.)

Born and raised in downtown Manhattan, Zac Posen was raised under the tutorage of the city’s finest fashion institutes, interning for Nicole Miller, attending pre-college programs at Parsons, receiving mentorship from the curator of the Met’s Costume Institute. In 2000, he designed a dress for Naomi Campbell that caught the eye of the fashion industry, and since then, he’s only grown in acclaim. Although he doesn’t have a storefront of his own, step into any luxury department store—Barney’s, Bergdorf’s, Saks, Bloomingdales—and find his jersey and flare dresses, tailored slacks, colorful footwear, scarves and handbags drawing chic women of all ages to the racks for contemporary day-to-night looks and bold eveningwear that attests to the confident taste of a modern woman. (Various locations)