Every season, a handful of fresh-faced singers rule the runways at Fashion Week —New York and beyond — overtaking show playlists, after-parties and front rows. Perhaps it's because a lot of designers share the same DJs and music curators, or because the fashion industry is a pretty small, insular world that relies heavily on word-of-mouth. Either way, it only makes sense that everyone would catch on to new artists right around the same time.
Around this time last year, Lorde and Disclosure permeated through the halls of Milk Studios and Lincoln Center, and then last season, industry darling FKA Twigs and Sbtrkt (the electro-pop artist who had just dropped the omnipresent “New Dorpe New York” featuring Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig) became the unofficial soundtrack of the moment.
Of course, designers will never stop playing the classics. Fleetwood Mac, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles will have a place on runway playlists until Fashion Week ceases to exist, but there’s always a handful of current chart-toppers that make a cameo or two. Sir Paul McCartney will undoubtedly get a lot of play, between his two recent collabs with Kanye West and Rihanna, and “Uptown Funk” by Mark Ronson is a no-brainer track seemingly recorded expressly with a energetic runway in mind. And you can obviously can expect to hear a whole lot of Taylor Swift (“Style” is a shoe-in), as well as Madonna’s latest single, “Iconic,” which might as well be 2015’s answer to “Vogue.”
But because the fashion industry loves anything new, you can also count on a bunch of young acts popping up on playlists and at parties. From Years & Years to Young Thug, here are the musical up-and-comers we’re hoping to hear (and see!) this week.
Years & Years
The fashion industry has been on to this Brit band for awhile now, and the rest of the universe appears to be finally catching up. Kitsuné — the music label owned by the cool-kid boutique — put out Years & Years’s debut EP about a year ago, and the trio has since received stamps of approval from brands like Opening Ceremony and Petit Bateau. In the last few months, they’ve dropped two excellent (not to mention runway-ready) electro-pop singles, “King” and “Desire,” so there’s little chance you won’t hear some Years & Years this season. But the band’s more than just soundtrack-worthy; perpetually decked out in vintage sportswear (old Fila tees, retro track jackets, baseball jerseys layered over polos), frontman Olly Alexander could double as a designer muse. With his athleisure look on lock, he’d fit right in at an Alexander Wang show.
This indie-pop trio has already been embraced by the fashion industry, having wrapped up a college tour with Sperry and lent their vocals to Piperlime’s shiny rebranding campaign. (We now know that this was an unsuccessful effort, but that’s absolutely no fault of Misterwives's shimmering track, “Reflections,” which practically made the commercial.) They’re stylish and talented — and they have an absurdly adorable lead singer who looks like she might moonlight as a model for Modcloth — so they’d also be an excellent choice for a live performance. Rebecca Minkoff should get in touch.
With his razor-sharp cheekbones, long center-parted locks and lithe frame, James Bay could without a doubt be mistaken for an off-duty male model. Objectification aside, the 24-year-old singer-songwriter is basically a much cooler (and British) John Mayer. He was more or less discovered by Christopher Bailey, who came across some of his demos on YouTube. Shortly after, Burberry enlisted him to film a live performance for their acoustic series, which was such a hit that the design house asked him to perform at its Prorsum show last spring.
Another Burberry alum, Hackman — who modeled for a spell and counts Cara Delevingne among her childhood pals — is getting ready to release her long-anticipated debut album next week, just in time for a little Fashion Week love. The platinum blonde bombshell, who recently went blue, sings haunting songs so striking you’ll get goosebumps. Rodarte’s never had live music, but they should really consider her. The eery tracks would suit the Mulleavy sisters' style, and her ethereal beauty just might uproot Elle Fanning as muse.
A$AP Rocky’s been a Fashion Week darling for awhile now, but Young Thug — a young signee on Birdman’s Cash Money Records who just collaborated with Nicki Minaj on her monster jam “Throw Some Mo” — is this year’s buzzy rapper who should be both sitting front row and all over the music mixes this season. The guy’s absolutely obsessed with luxury designers, which is apparent from his lyrics (listen to his song, “Givenchy,” which is basically an ode to Riccardo Tisci) and his wardrobe (he performs in stuff like this). If “Lifestyle” isn’t blaring from the speakers during at least half a dozen shows and parties, designers need to rethink their DJs.
A largely unknown NYU dropout became an overnight sensation when she uploaded a remarkably catchy tune called “Octohate” last summer. Only later did everyone learn that award-winning beatmaker Benny Blanco and Passion Pit's Michael Angelakos produced the track — and that Ryn is a total destined-for-magazine-covers knockout. But first, she’s destined for Fashion Week, where her multi-hued mermaid hair and Marianne Faithfull-inspired wardrobe is bound to make waves among the style set.
There’s simply no way those first few beats of “Stolen Dance” won’t make an appearance at a show this week, but the whole song — along with all the other tracks on this German duo’s debut album — are the perfect pace for strutting down a runway. It’s too bad their tour is taking them to Europe right about now, because their live act is stellar, their hair is legendary and, OK, they’re also very cute, so they’d be an A+ choice to play an after-party.
Although she’s only 14, Willow’s become something of a fashion revolutionary in her short life. She has a better sense of self — and style — than people triple her age. While most middle schoolers are wearing Forever 21 and Justice, she has a closet full of Hood By Air, VFiles and Moschino. She’ll probably end up on a front row of a few of those shows — heck, she could even end up on the runway because just look at her — but her gem of an EP, which she quietly released on her birthday last fall, deserves a spot on the DJ’s rotation, too.
Reviving glam-rock in a big way, Garrett Borns came out of nowhere (rural Michigan, if you want to get specific) with a quivering falsetto that could give Mariah a run for her money. He only has a 4-song EP to his name, but he’s already scored a big deal with Interscope and got the approval of Taylor Swift. Plus, he looks like a ‘70s-era dreamboat. There’s no doubt Marc Jacobs would dig him.
It takes one brief glance at the newsstands to realize just how much the fashion world loves Hollywood offspring (Kendall Jenner on Love, Gigi Hadid on Teen Vogue, Dakota Johnson on Vogue). But the electro-R&B duo Lion Babe doesn’t need to name-drop to sound impressive — the music does the job for them. Frontlady Jillian Hervey just so happens to be Vanessa Williams's daughter, but that’s not why people like Childish Gambino and Pharrell are clamoring to work with her. A big-time record deal just happened, and a beauty campaign is surely soon to follow. Would you just look at that mane?