New York Fashion Week may be beginning with the promise of protests over Donald Trump’s presidency, and even a fashion-related feud, started on Twitter by President Trump, against Nordstrom department stores who aren’t stocking his daughter Ivanka’s brand any more.
But all was quiet and controversy-free at one of the first shows Wednesday. In a knitwear market bursting at the seams with oversized, chunky sweaters, PH5 has carved out a singular niche with their light yet durable pieces that are more girly than grandma.
After debuting their line in New York last season, the young knitwear label has returned with an impressive sophomore collection inspired by British artist Martin Creed’s famous balloon room installation.
Designer Mijia Zhang said the line is meant to evoke the playfulness of Creed’s work: a rainbow-striped jumpsuit riffs on the primary colors children frequently associate with balloons, while whimsical mohair sweaters came with extra-long sleeves that extended beyond models’ fingertips.
Another highlight was an offbeat, colorblocked sweater-and-skirt combo.
“This piece is very artsy,” said Wei Lin, Zhang’s partner and former roommate (the two met while Lin was in business school in Manhattan and Zhang was studying at Parsons). “The top can be worn off-the-shoulder or as a regular cardigan, and we tried to play with the placement of the skirt,” she said, pointing to a curved slit at the front of the garment, which would look equally flattering shifted to the side.
And because functionality is the label’s M.O., 90 percent of the pieces are both reversible and machine washable, made from synthetic fibers that don’t shrink.
“I think I really learned how to do more commercial pieces this season, because the clothes need to be sellable on top of being artsy,” said Zhang.
Indeed, with contemporary price points ranging from $200—$400, PH5 is poised to become a cult label—and their technically sophisticated knits are worth investing in.