Babenzien has a well-honed sense of what’s cool, of seeing things earlier than other people do, as he told GQ’s Sam Schube earlier this year. Just look at his track record at Noah, where he introduced young New Yorkers to irreverent preppy clothing, and at Supreme, which he helped turn into, you know, Supreme. Looking around at the crowd, full of fashion press and groups of How Long Gone guests—HLG co-host Chris Black is a creative consultant for J.Crew—dancing and gulping down Brooklyn Lagers next to a bar branded with a big J.Crew logo, I asked Babenzien: is the spirit of the late aughts set for a revival?
“A lot of what I do is referential, and is often looking back,” Babenzien told me at the post-concert VIP dinner at Indochine. “It’s not nostalgic, it’s just like, there’s good things we take from the past, and we bring them forward. I’ve been doing that with design forever, and it’s kind of about timing…Things are just coming out when they’re supposed to. This type of clothing, this type of fit, this kind of music feels good again, you know? It just happens naturally.”
Judging by the rest of the NYFW schedule, Babenzien isn’t the only one with his eyes cast a decade into the past. After a wave of ’90s revivals led by millennials seeking refuge in the styles of their youth, the mainstream fashion industry appears ready to embrace a more complicated era—and not in an irony-pilled, invite-Cobrasnake-to-shoot-the-party kind of way.
Remember 2009’s Fashion’s Night Out, that post-crash celebration of New York’s fashion retailers led by Vogue’s inner circle of designers and A-list friends? Meet Vogue World, taking place Monday night, a public-facing celebration of 130 years of Vogue with a live fashion show and street fair and Lil Nas X—FNO re-worked and live-streamed for Vogue’s young fans and followers. And tonight’s Fendi one-off NYFW Fendi show finds Marc Jacobs, who reached the height of his cultural and commercial power in the late aughts, presenting a special collection with Kim Jones honoring the Fendi Baguette bag, that ultimate coming-of-age status symbol in turn-of-the-century New York.
The aughts were alive last night, too, in Williamsburg (!) where Opening Ceremony founders Humberto Leon and Carol Lim (along with the likes of Chloë Sevigny and Spike Jonze) hosted a party to celebrate the specialty-store-turned-brand’s 20th anniversary. Along with Jacobs, Leon and Lim were a pillar of the late aughts fashion scene—OC was “the most influential place in retail” for the NYC It-crowd and fashion fans, according to a 2008 New York Times piece, until closing its doors in 2020. Before ballroom legend Kevin Aviance took to the floor, I asked Leon for his take.
“We were super lucky to be a part of that time period,” he told me. “We’ve always been about culture, and the aughts were always about bringing different cultures together.”
I asked Leon if they would ever reopen. “I’m sure we will,” he replied without hesitation. “It’s just a matter of time.”
Opening Ceremony won’t be the only retail touchstone of that era to return downtown. J.Crew is opening a dedicated men’s specialty store next week on the Bowery. The last time they did that? 2008.