The man behind Brooklyn’s own Fashion Week
For the past 13 years, while New York Fashion Week’s high-profile, high-priced events dazzle the industry elite across the East River, a smaller, more inclusive affair takes place in Brooklyn.
Rick Davy runs Fashion Week Brooklyn, a product of Davy’s BK Style Foundation, a nonprofit that focuses on building fashion entrepreneurship in the low-income community. It’s uniquely Brooklyn counter-programming that aims to level the playing field within the 76-year-old largely Manhattan-centric affair.
“I’m all about the community, especially the low-income community, to help some of our people who are really talented,” said Davy. “The black designers who didn’t have that kind of money to pay to get into New York Fashion Week needed a space.”
Davy, an immigrant from Trinidad and Tobago, was not initially drawn to the fashion industry when he left his country. But pursuing classes in photography and film production for free at NYU while working as an assistant manager at the institution changed his life’s trajectory.
It took him to working on music videos for luminaries like Brooklyn-born icon Jay-Z, to fashion photography and pageant styling, and ultimately to styling for television — working on shows such as CBS Talk show “Forgive and Forget” as well as BET’s “106 & Park” and “Rap City: The Basement.”
A Brooklyn resident for 15 years, he saw the changes gentrification was bringing to the borough and felt there needed to be a space for emerging and smaller brands to thrive. This season, the stage is set for roughly 25 designers to showcase their S/S 2020 collection.
One of FWBK’s goals is to be inclusive, regardless of race, size, age, disability or class. In addition to ready-to-wear and couture collections, this season’s fashion week also includes children’s wear, genderless fashion and a segment featuring older models.
“We have a definite diversity policy and we want to include everybody,” he said. “It’s about communities coming together.”
Davy also uses his BK Style Foundation to promote sustainable fashion in the community through various events — such as clothes swap parties where people bring clothing and accessories to trade or barter with each other — and programs like Stitch for Success.
Stitch for Success provides high schools and emerging designers in the community who are unable to afford equipment and materials with used sewing machines and excess fabric that other designers are no longer using.
Sustainable fashion encourages the increased reuse and recycling of clothing and accessories by producing or consuming products that have longevity — a response to fast fashion.
He is adamant that he wants to get the message to the black, low-income community that “we miss the mark on sustainability because we buy so much.”
Patrick Duffy, founder of Global Fashion Exchange, has plans to help Davy educate the community about how to be more conscious consumers, about supply chain transparency and how to throw a great Clothes Swap Party.
“Rick is an icon. If you are going to do anything fashion related in Brooklyn, you need to know Rick,” said Duffy. “I am working with Rick on a multitude of programs around sustainability. We are looking to create engaging events and content for the BK Style community and more.”
BK Style Foundation also runs the Designers Exchange Program, which offers local designers the opportunity to show in different countries and draw inspiration from different cultures.
The program in turn invites designers from other countries to showcase in Brooklyn, showing them what the borough has to offer. This year’s FWBK will host designers from Africa for the “Hello Africa Fashion” runway show on Friday.
Davy continues to champion Brooklyn as the greatest place to get inspired by fashion, even if it’s not luxury fashion.
“If you really want fashion that comes from the people,” he said, “then Brooklyn is a good place to get that inspiration.”
FWBK runway shows and other related events takes place at various locations around Brooklyn from Oct. 6-12.
Keishel Williams is a New York-based freelance journalist writing about fashion, arts and culture who has contributed to publications in the U.S., the Caribbean, and Europe. You can follow her work on Twitter.
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