Orley presents sumptuous knitwear, inspired by family

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

NEW YORK (AP) — It's the men's turn.

New York Fashion Week has always celebrated the glamour of women's fashion, but has relegated menswear to a supporting role. This week, building on a growing public appetite for menswear, the industry is putting on the first stand-alone men's fashion week in New York in nearly two decades (a brief attempt fizzled in the late '90s.)

Here are some highlights of New York Fashion Week: Men's.



The up-and-coming Orley brand is a family label, and this doesn't simply mean that the three designing Orleys are related (Alex and Matthew are brothers, and Matthew is married to Samantha.) It also means their design inspirations often come from family, too.

For their spring 2016 men's collection, marked by some sumptuous crocheted knitwear, the trio was inspired by the Orley brothers' parents.

"All our collections tend to be nostalgic," explained Alex Orley, the younger of the two brothers, after the brand's presentation on Thursday. "This one is about my mom and my dad and how they were when they met, which was at my dad's 15-year high school reunion, in suburban Michigan."

"They were really different people when they met," Alex said; Mom was more liberated, and dad "a little more straight and narrow." The designers tried to incorporate both characteristics into their collection, but also to "make it feel really modern, take it out of the '70s context," Alex said.

One of their goals was "to do knitwear, but in a freer way than we've done it before." Indeed, the most striking pieces in the collection were several elegant hand-crocheted tops in an azure or ivory Japanese silk that, Alex said, took 97 hours of work — each. "They're essentially couture," he said. There was a crochet jacket and a crochet crewneck and a couple of tees, too, each of which took 75 hours. "It's always been really important for us to showcase the range of techniques in knitwear," he said. .

The intricate, delicate garments looked great on the hipster young models wearing them, but would the consumer go for it? "We generally find that the guys who come to us directly want special pieces," he said. "There are a lot of brands that make really beautiful cashmere sweaters. And we do too, but I think you need to have something more than that to say, to be telling an impactful story. And for us the only story that we know is a personal one."

Like many menswear designers, Orley is happy to see the ascension of U.S. menswear to its own New York Fashion Week.

"I think it means that there's a wealth of talent in New York that is ready to sort of step up onto a bigger stage," he said.

—Jocelyn Noveck