Editor – @Jthnomad
Subject – @FashionWeekBrooklyn
“Some of us have great runways already built for us. If you have one, take off. But if you don’t have one, realize it is your responsibility to grab a shovel and build one for yourself and for those who will follow after you.” — Amelia Earhart
Most people don’t have a clue what it really takes to create and launch a fashion week. The cost alone would turn most people away, not to mention hearing feedback like no fashion editor would ever come to Brooklyn to cover a fashion show. Especially one that doesn’t have any major designers, sponsors, and front row seats filled with celebrities like Anna Wintour. Despite the odds and the challenge, FWBK founder Rick Davy did just that out of his Bedstuy Brownstone apartment in 2006. Today 10 years later designers like Christian Dior, Moncler and Alexander Wang showing their collections to editors at Duggal’s Greenhouse in Brooklyn Navy Yard. Not to mention the major coverage Fashion Week Brooklyn has gotten from media outlets like Vogue, Elle, and even full page story in The New York Times. In celebration of it’s 10th year, we decided to seat down with founder Rick Davy, to get the insider story of this remarkable achievement.
Rick Davy, Fashion Week Brooklyn
Black Chalk – What lead you into the fashion world?
Rick Davy – I started out by working on music videos, by taking photos. I loved what the stylist was doing and I loved playing dress up myself. I started taking photos because I wanted to be a photographer. I began taking a couple of photos for friends, and then I would style them. That lead me to taking classes at FIT, while a student there a friend of mine had me work with him on set. That lead me to styling one of my friends who won the ‘Miss Universe’ title in the 90s. From there I started becoming the go-to stylist for most of the girls in the ‘Miss Universe’ and ‘Miss USA’ contests. That was how I got started in the fashion industry.
During that time I realized there were a lot of emerging designers based in Brooklyn, who had amazing pieces. But they didn’t have the chance to showcase their work at New York Fashion Week because of the cost. I took the challenge upon myself, to create something like NYFW for emerging designers, in Brooklyn because I loved the place and I could see where it was going in the future. It would be a great thing for Brooklyn.
Black Chalk – So you came to New York from the island of Trinidad, and kinda just fell into fashion…
Rick Davy – Yes, I can to New York from Trinidad because I wanted to be a dancer. But then when I got here I wanted to be a photographer. I got into NYU, because I applied there for an admin job. When I started working there, I realized that employees could get free tuition. So I decided to go into film and TV. I started working for the film department at NYU and that lead me directing some music videos.
Black Chalk – Would you say that you passion to experience life lead you to create Fashion Week Brooklyn?
Rick Davy – I would say that my desire to communicate and my passion to fight for the individuals who haven’t been afford the opportunities I have. One fact I have recognized in my life is that people don’t follow their dreams because they don’t have the chance to do so. Most people coming from a low income area, just need the opportunity to do so. That is where my passion lies, in giving people the chances they normally don’t have.
Black Chalk – Let’s chat about the history of Fashion Week Brooklyn. It has been around for over ten years. Tell me about year one, because people don’t realize what it takes run a fashion week.
Rick Davy – It has a long ten years. We are still learning a lot about the industry and throwing events on this scale. When we did our first one, it was all out of pocket. We didn’t charge the designers, I paid for everything out of pocket. It was my passion and I wanted to get it done. It cost for me for the first 3 or 4 years, because it was very challenging getting any one to believe that Brooklyn could have a fashion week. When I first started, people would always say “Oh No, I am not coming to Brooklyn for a fashion week. You aren’t going to get any media or press coming out the bridge to Brooklyn.” Here we are ten years later and most of the people live here now. It was a challenge at the beginning. It was something that I believed and I saw what the potential of Brooklyn was.
Black Chalk – Walk me through the highlights of Fashion Week Brooklyn for the last ten years.
Rick Davy – You know I would never put myself above anyone else, but I believe the effort I have put in building up Brooklyn Fashion has proved itself now that we have designers like Christian Dior, and Alexander Wang doing their shows here. It is really different now that Chanel and Alexander Wang are crossing the bridge to show their fashion collections here. They would have never done that kind of thing here if we hadn’t done it first. We have shown some amazing emerging designers, we had MTV following us around, Bravo did a piece on us. My favorite was the piece that British Vogue did on us. We got a very good write up in the New York Times fashion section. We did a partnership with Target.
Black Chalk – Who are some of your favorite designers, you have worked with from Fashion Week Brooklyn? Who have really taken hold and successfully launched themselves from this platform?
Rick Davy – One talented designer we work with is Nana Boateng, who is doing extremely well. An international designer who first showed with us, is Nina Hannasch, she is doing amazing things right now.
Black Chalk – What are the criteria you look for in a designer to show at Fashion Week Brooklyn?
Rick Davy – We look for quality in creativity, workmanship and a cohesive collection that pertains to the season we are showing. I personally look at the technique of the designer, because the workmanship is truly important. Most emerging designers don’t have the luxury to go a high-end production company to get samples. They are literally sewing their garments themselves. So that is a key thing for us, a designer with good workmanship and technique as they finish their garments for the runway.
Black Chalk – I know that backstage at a fashion week can be challenging. Can you tell me some fun stories?
Rick Davy – We always have amazing people back stage. Recently we had Jason Lee who is a celebrity make up artist & hair stylist from Canadian, leading our glam team. It is really exciting to see how our emerging designers can work with our glam team to create beautiful looks. We try to partner up our emerging designers with emerging hair and make up artists. All coming together to create amazing looks.
Black Chalk – What was ‘the moment’ for you when you realized that Fashion Week Brooklyn had really made it.
Rick Davy – That is a really good question. I am trying to really think of one key moment. That is a really tough one. I think because of my ‘short’ memory, it would be that we have a lot of international designers showing with us. We aren’t just national, we are reaching an international audience. We were the first to show a designer from Qatar in Brooklyn. She didn’t want to show at NYFW, she wanted to show at Brooklyn Fashion Week. Outside of New York Fashion Week, we have been labeled the number 5 fashion week in the world. That is a great thing, because we are getting international attention and we are representing the borough like we want to!
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