VFILES Founder Julie Anne Quay on New Designers, Virgil Abloh and What to Expect from Tonight's Runway Show

It's democratic fashion at its best

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Complex Original

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VFILES does runway shows a little differently. Well, to be honest, it does pretty much everything a little differently than you'd expect. For its seasonal Fashion Week presentation, VFILES puts out what amounts to a casting call for emerging designers to apply for a spot in their full-on blowout of a runway show. Anyone with a brand they call their own can join in the competition in the hopes of being chosen to put together a full collection and show it off in front of attendees at New York Fashion Week. 

For Fall/Winter 2016, the competition focuses on wearable tech and brings together four brands from all corners of the globe to present their wares. This season has just two New York City-based designers—Neurocouture and Kim Shui. The other three, Anton Belinskiy, Ottolinger and Hardeman call Kiev, Berlin and Amsterdam home, respectively. Those entries were drawn from a pool of more than 1,000, are then nailed down to 50 and sent on for selection by big-name fashion mentors Italo Zucchelli of Calvin Klein, former curator of The Costume Institute at The Met, Harold Koda, former Vogue.com creative director Candy Pratts Price and Off-White creative director Virgil Abloh. Over a span of three months, the talent pool gets narrowed down further to the handful of brands that will actually show on the runway—part of what makes the show batshit insane in all the best ways. 

It really is an open source method and exposes some brand new names to the fashion world. VFILES founder Julie Anne Quay says, "We believe in fashion democracy and fashion diplomacy, and those aren't words synonymous with fashion. We do things different. Everyone here is about, like, under 24 years old. Most of the models have never been in a show before. The designers have never done a show in New York before, the hair stylists, make-up artists—this is all a big first for a lot of people."

Ever the champion of the youth, Quay mentions that it isn't an act, and even the mentors were selected for their own interests, not just their bold-faced names. "The great thing about Virgil is that he is as much of a fan of the kids as they are of him. He is an amazing person." 

While the show will spotlight the five designers taking part, it will also debut VFILES_XO, the brand's wearable tech collection. The relationship with VFILES isn't just a one-and-one situation for these brands, either. They can work with VFILES Third Floor, which functions as a showroom and brand incubator, as well as sales and PR representation to help turn a young brand into a viable business going forward. 

So, not only does VFILES give them the platform to jump off, VFILES is along for the ride. You shouldn't miss the show tonight if you can. Rest assured, VFILES wants the fans there—"We want the friends and family of the designers to be there supporting them. That's as important, if not more important, than having a lot of press there." 

VFILES Fall/Winter 2016 show is tonight at 8 p.m. EST at Spring Studios.  

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