NOLCHA Fashion Week

When one thinks of New York Fashion Week, it’s usually Mercedes-Benz that’s comes to mind.  The automaker sponsors the event at Lincoln Center, where designers will pay $30,000 - $100,000 for a 15-minutes runway show, with some spending upwards of $500,000.  But another option is available for designers not named Ralph or Carolina.  Nolcha Fashion Week, acknowledged by the New York Economic Development Corporation, as one of two Fashion Weeks in New York Fashion Week, the second being Mercedes-Benz. Founder Kerry Bannigan noticed there was a gap in the marketplace for emerging designers and launched Nolcha in 2006.  Born and raised in London, England, Kerry came to the states and found herself meeting friends who worked in the fashion industry, most of them very creative in their designs, but didn’t have the business acumen to market, brand and sell their collections.  Enter Nolcha.

Nolcha provides a team to each designer, including public relations, networking events, guest list, buyers and journalists to cover the shows, allowing the designer to fully focus on what they do best, design the clothes.  With sponsors such as Rusk, Real Beanz Iced Coffee and American Airlines picking up a portion of the cost of the show, the designers pay $4,500 for a 10-look show and $8,500 for a 15-20-piece collection.  In a more intimate setting than the larger Mercedes-Benz shows, most attendees have a seat, with each show highlighting 4-5 collections.  Instead of the 15-minute shows at Lincoln Center, these last approximately 30-minutes and allow show goers to interact with the designers and models post-show.

Before the guests arrive for the show at NOLCHA
Before the guests arrive for the show at NOLCHA

The shows are organized by collections and grouped with those that are similar, for example “Best of British Menswear” showed in the morning and formal wear walked the runway in the evening.  Showing in both February and September, on the same schedule as Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, Nolcha is looking for a new and permanent home for their shows, and Ms. Bannigan hopes they have found it at the Chelsea Piers.  “Last year we held the event at Alvin Alley Dance Theatre in an effort to be closer to Lincoln Center, but ended up sacrificing space.”  Nolcha is outgrowing their space, which is great news for the company, designers and consumers.  With a greater number of independent designers showcasing their style and Nolcha creating a platform for which pieces can enter the marketplace, the consumer can purchase apparel that is inspired and unique.

For more information on Nolcha, and to see the design pieces that walked the runway this year, check out their website at www.nolchafashionweek.com

NOLCHA Founder Kerry Bannigan and Hilary Phelps
NOLCHA Founder Kerry Bannigan and Hilary Phelps