Reconstruct's New York Fashion Week: Men's debut was a success. You could tell by the cheers and enthusiastic gratitude that boomed from backstage after the last models made their way off the runway. It also wasn't a typical fashion show: For starters, the design collective behind the label — comprised of Laura Aanen, Alyssa Groeneveld, Kim Kivits, Michelle Lievaart and Sanne Verkleij — traveled from Amsterdam to New York City, booked an Airbnb in Brooklyn and had about three weeks to entirely produce their Spring 2019 show.
But the high-pressure, deadline-driven stakes were nothing new. In fact, it's the premise upon which Reconstruct was built. The five designers joined forces nearly two years ago, after studying together at the Willem de Kooning Academy in Rotterdam, Holland, when they learned that their school wouldn't be hosting a graduation fashion show. The group took it upon themselves to raise money and organize their very own.
"It went so well," recalls Lievaart. "We realized that we came so far working together, so we thought, 'Why not continue this?'"
Since graduating, Reconstruct has shown in Amsterdam, where they're currently based, as well as at Copenhagen Fashion Week — the models walked through an indoor skate park, the attendees drank beer. And although Reconstruct's New York Fashion Week: Men's debut on Tuesday took place at a more traditional venue — Industria Studios in the West Village, provided by the CFDA — with a few well-known collaborators — art director Dennis Vanderbroeck; stylist Matthew Mazur — a strong DIY vibe still remained. Dutch producer and DJ Geneevre set himself up at the top of the runway to provide music while showgoers found their best vantage points along the sides. (No seat assignments here; standing room only.) The casting felt authentic to the brand, too, as the designers scout through Instagram rather than working with casting agencies. "We want people to actually to fit our brand," says Kivits. "We pulled a really great group that's diverse and they're all so comfortable in the clothes. I think that's really important."
Each season, Reconstruct focuses on a theme and each designer creates around their own character within the collection's backstory. "We all have different tastes or approaches. One starts with stories, the other with materials or collages, but we all go our own way and it always comes together," explains Lievaart.
For Spring 2019, dubbed "Retrograde Orbit," Reconstruct's fourth collection is inspired by a (fictional) planet called "Re-4" that's populated by a new group of alien species. The label translated this through reversible, multi-wearable, hybrid and sometimes repurposed garments, like Converse tracksuits reconstructed into skirts and shirts, adorned with drawstrings to swap between a longer-length or crop top. Neon colors and reflective details gave the collection an overall sport-meets-street aesthetic.
According to Reconstruct's designers, "Re-4" also happens to orbit in the opposite direction of other planets, a metaphor for how they're trying to find their own way within the fashion system, says Kivits. How the designers approach their collections as a collective is refreshing, and the collaborative process is a smart way to grow as young designers. "People need to realize that you can't do this alone," says Groeneveld. "We're five but still we have so much work to do and we always need more help, so we have a big group of interns. We also inspire people that you need to work together because you'll make more and different things than if you're by yourself. We want to show that we're not high-class fashion people but really approachable."
"We're finding our path more and more," says Lievaart. And it seems like others are recognizing that, too. Reconstruct is already carried online and in Tokyo, but will soon be stocked in Moscow, Utretch in Holland and hopefully a few more retailers from their market appointments during Paris Fashion Week Men's. Continuing with their nomadic runway shows, they have their eyes set on London Fashion Week. "And a store on Mars," adds Livits.
See the Reconstruct Spring 2019 collection from New York Fashion Week: Men's in the gallery below.
Homepage image: Reconstruct Spring 2019. Photo: @reconstruct.collective/Instagram