When dealing with a cast of 73 designers, it can seem difficult to nail down exactly what Flying Solo is. In its most basic form, the SoHo based store is a creative space where designers, photographers, stylists, and other members of fashion work together to awaken new ideas and present them in their individual brands. Each label is available to shop at Flying Solo locations and is included in their NYFW presentations.
Fashion has seen a steady movement in creative collectives, where different of artists band together to produce collaborative content. Silvia D’avila, a Brazilian born jewelry designer and founder of IZA, wants us to know that this is not what Flying Solo is. “We are not a collective, we are a community, that’s what I want to emphasize”, she says. “There’s a lot of collectives out there, but a collective means you’re collecting people and stuff. In the community, everyone takes part and has a job.” To D’avila, this community translates into a nexus for creatives. “I think the more important thing we’ve learned in Flying Solo is we’ve created a hub for fashion. It’s a network for every aspect of fashion,” she says.
Israeli designer Daniel Silverstain sees the value in numbers in an industry dominated by an individualistic mindset. “The world of design [teaches] that everyone needs to be alone, that’s the way we were educated, to fight for yourself”, says Silverstain. “We’ve learned that our power is when we’re united. The more we collaborate together, the more we open our community to stylists, photographers, and models, we became stronger. I think that’s the future for everything. It’s not just for designers of a product but also stylists and photographers and makeup and hair. Those industries involve many, many more people. Factories, seamstresses. There’s a lot of angles to this industry. Once we got all together, it proved that this network is really valuable.”
Flying Solo offers something different for each designer. For Yasya Minochkina, the community offers her a chance for exposure. This is the second season the Ukrainian designer has been a part of the group and has seen her brand greatly develop since joining. “This is a great spot to grow for young designers like me. I’ve been doing my fashion business [for] 10 years”, she says. “You have to grow with them, you have to work with them. It can be really hard.”
Carmen Sol, founder of her eponymous brand, has seen her inclusion in the community as a way to better know her clientele. “I come from a retail background so for me, my inspiration comes a lot from the actual customer,” says Sol. “So I see what it is that they’re looking for, what they need, and what we don’t have, and I try and see how we can make it happen for them.”
While each designer experiences and mindsets vary, there is a lot of commonality amongst the group. Sol, like others in the community, is extremely aware of the impact of her brand. She uses nontoxic materials and eco-friendly packaging for her products. Fernanda Daudt bases her entire brand on being eco-conscious. Her label, Volta Atelier, utilizes wasted materials and scraps leftover by the leather good industry to create one of a kind bags. Daudt is glad to be part of an eco-friendly community, saying, “I feel so happy because we need to spread this word, there is no other way to go in fashion anymore. Our mission is exactly like that, to be sustainable, to be social. From the scraps we do bags, we don’t develop any new material, they’re all repurposed materials. We stitch by hands with by creative artisans that are refugees from Haiti.”
Diversity is a major driving factor for Flying Solo. A majority of the designers are immigrants, hailing from countries all over the globe. Ricardo Seco, a men’s and womenswear designer from Mexico, thinks this unification will put the “passion in fashion.” Seco says, “We are from different countries and the [commonality] in everyone is that we are immigrants, and I think that is the time to work together.”
This year’s presentation featured a whopping 340 looks, inspired by “space-age exploration and breaking borders”. With an expanding community and growing presence in fashion, there seem to be endless possibilities for Flying Solo. As Daniel Silverstain puts it, “[We’re] really concentrate on Flying Solo to space. The sky is not the limit, there’s much more than that. That’s what we’ve learned as a community, that we can grow way bigger than what you just normally think you can.”