Thousands of shuttering cameras, exclusive runway shows, tight security and limited access are just a few words that describe the chaos of New York Fashion Week. In an age when exclusivity can pique interest and even raise value, NYFW and fintech firm Afterpay are looking to do a 180-degree turn on the runway and open up access to all.
"As NYFW is traditionally a closed door industry event, Afterpay has been focused on flipping the traditional fashion week model on its head and giving everyone from the next generation of designers and creators and consumers the opportunity to be involved in NYFW," Natalie McGrath, Afterpay vice president of marketing, told Cheddar News.
This week marks the fourth season the two have paired to expand public access.
Experiences offered this time around go beyond just access to the hottest shows of the season, but offer non-insiders the opportunity to help create garments, walk in shows and learn directly from fashion industry professionals.
Casting Everyday New Yorkers
Colin LoCascio hosts New York Fashion Week Afterclass (Credit Sean T. Smith)
Designer and New York City native Colin LoCascio is threading the needle between the coveted fashion industry and the general public by casting everyday New Yorkers for his Spring 2023 show.
"I grew up in Queens and I was always sort of parallel to New York Fashion Week but never really invited in," he told Cheddar News. "For us it was really about finding people that really resonated with the brand so it felt very genuine."
LoCascio noted that the turnout for the casting call was so overwhelming that while everyone couldn't be selected to walk, he'd be using many to participate in future projects like brand ad campaigns.
Ahead of his show at Manhattan's Spring Studios he also hosted the NYFW Afterclass, a workshop where aspiring designers worked alongside him to create a new sustainable look, with deadstock fabrics sourced from his upcoming collection.
Crowd-Picked Garments
BruceGlen designs for New York Fashion Week (Credit; Sean T. Smith) 
Twin designers known as BruceGlen are set to hold their first ever NYFW runway show and the duo has leaned on the public to help bring their vision to life. One of the pieces created for the show was handpicked by the general public. Consumers can sift through options on the duo's Instagram page with the winning piece being revealed during the show. Not only are the pair looking to highlight the fashion sense of everyday New Yorkers, emphasizing use of sustainable materials is also a goal.
"Since learning about the negative impacts of the fashion industry, it has become a critical part of all decision-making during our creative process to make sure each piece is made ethically and sustainably," BruceGlen told Cheddar News. "We are still at the beginning stages of making the fashion world more sustainable, but it is a value that we are proud to champion and be at the forefront of."
Interactive & Immersive Activations
Spring Studios is the host location for Afterpay's Runway X activation and they're inviting fashion enthusiasts, as well as those who are just curious about the behind-the-scenes workings of the fashion industry, to the space to watch it all unfold.
Afterpay Xperience Your Runway Moment (Credit: Sean T. Smith)
For those who want to experience what strutting down the catwalk during the peak fashion season was like, there is the Your Runway Moment experience. Then, if participants come across an item they want to take their closet to the next level, the firm has partnered with multiple designers to expand pay options for hot-ticket items. Spots were still available when this story was published; it will run until the final shows take place on Tuesday.