The Graduates


The designers are understandably frustrated by criticisms like these, even while they admit that the quality of their production is a work in progress. (Ms. Song at Opening Ceremony, for the record, said she had never experienced any problems with the craftsmanship of their clothes. “It may look like they just sewed that up, but that’s kind of the intent of it,” she said.)

“We aren’t doing something that there’s a precedent for, or that maybe makes sense to these people in the industry,” Mr. DiCaprio said. “But their industry is failing right now. It’s maybe, like, don’t be so critical and maybe accept that we’re doing something that could work. And even if it doesn’t work, it’s a suggestion, and it’s opening up a space for new things.”

They recall, to their fans, the spirit of an earlier era in fashion, a smaller, scrappier, precorporate time.

“They remind me of the energy that was around at the turn of the century — that grungy, dirty, downtown edginess,” said Nicole Phelps, the director of Vogue Runway and a judge of the Fashion Fund. “I think we need them in New York fashion right now.”

In August, Mr. DiCaprio, Ms. Taubensee and Ms. Sullivan invited me to their studio in Greenpoint. It is a cramped one-room space that they share with their studio manager and a rotating cast of interns; the bathrooms are down the hall. Each of the designers mentioned feeling marooned there, though they have an easy camaraderie, passing rhinestoned Juuls back and forth.

Mr. Moses had left the company, they said, a mutual parting of ways that had been difficult. It had the air of a foregone conclusion after the feedback they’d received about the difficulty of groups, though they insisted the issue had been personal, not professional.


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