Every year, New York springs to life during New York Fashion Week. A majority of the shows attract many celebrity guests which attracts a week long media circus. Most of the shows are held at Pier 59 and Industria, which have been used by the likes of Calvin Klein, Tommy Hilfiger, and more. This year, we spoke with two sober insiders to get the skinny on Fashion Week and how to survive it as a sober individual. We followed Alexandra Nyman, Designer and CEO of LadyCat Fashion, who had the honor and privilege of presenting her first collection this season. And we spoke to Natoshia Marie Haley, a plus-sized sober model better known as Blu.
The first thing we learned was that the After Parties were nothing to write home about. For the most part it was a bunch of fabulous people crammed into a tiny space with loud music. As a sober individual, this did not appeal to this writer. However, the shows proved to live up to the hype. A majority of the shows we attended were sponsored by soft drink companies such as Vitamin Water or Sparkling Ice, who sponsored Nyman’s showcase with Fashion Industry’s Finest Independent Designers Showcase (or FIFI for short). It was refreshing to see so many people enjoying a sober evening. The showcase also had a pop-up event for anyone to meet the designers and to discuss their work with them. It also gave us the opportunity to catch up with Blu to get the conversation going about alcohol and fashion and how to avoid that mix.
One of Blu’s go to tips for navigating Fashion Week is to “surround yourself with like minded individuals. Do not put yourself in a space with people who will encourage that behavior. After parties can be fun sober,” she told us. The best way to enjoy the party is to grab your sober babes and to sips some seltzer, which has recently become a popular drink of choice of millenials, even sparking the creation of sober podcast, The Seltzer Squad. “Remember your steps and honestly if I personally felt I couldn’t handle that atmosphere, I’d decline the invite,” Blu says as she reminds us that we all need to be true to ourselves during our sober journey.
Blu has been sober for a decade, and expressed the difficulties of being in the fashion industry, especially as a sober plus-sized model. “However, I always journal and pray. Prayer got me through a lot of hard times. I’ll call home as well and speak to family if I am nervous or anxious. They keep me grounded,” Blu said as she reflected on her ways to stay encouraged and keep on pushing to accomplish her goals.
When it comes to pursuing a career in fashion, we spoke with Alexandra who described to us how difficult it is for anyone to branch into the fashion industry, let alone someone who is trying to forge their own path as a sober individual. She said, “the industry has for a very long time been fixated on casting models whose bodies do not reflect the reality of the women who will be wearing their clothing. It is so important for designers to cast more diverse models in order to be the change they wish to see in this industry. That is why I made it a point to cast for diversity in race, body type, and physical ability. I think the runway should be shared by anyone filled with confidence and the ability to showcase the clothing once they reach the end of the runway at the press pit.”
Following up on this, Blu remarked, that she would encourage anyone looking to become a model and to follow her path to “take someone with you to events or on set that has you best interest at heart. Do not follow the crowd because you assume it will bring you further. Stand up for you and what you are trying to accomplish in your sobriety. For me I changed my circle and places I chose to hang out at. I’m blessed and that God put me on the path of the right people that will continue to support my modeling and my message. The ladies I work with are AMAZING. I tell my story to anyone who will listen so they know who I am upfront and what I stand for. Be you. Be strong. Being sober is a choice and I choose it everyday.”
Being sober in the fashion industry is not an easy task, but Blu and Alexandra, they have found a way to make it work for them. Blu recommends for anyone seeking to be sober to “contact an organization close to you so that you can seek assistance. Get a sponsor also get into counseling. I feel like dealing with the root of why I was using has helped me stay sober. Surround yourself with others who support you in your journey to sobriety and until you feel you can stand firm in saying no, do not expose yourself to situations that may have drugs/alcohol involved.”
For anyone seeking to get into the Fashion scene, here are our recommendations: 1) seek out classes that are scheduled as workshops during the day, there is a much lower chance of there being any alcohol served for a day time function during the week, 2) seek out mixers that state they are sober. They can be ones sponsored by Sparkling Ice, a Coffee and Tea networking meetup, or networking events held on a college campus, and 3) bring a buddy who will rock the seltzer with you so you can both support one another as you try to network and engage with fellow fashion creatives. If you have a tip you would like to share with our readers, send us an e-mail at [email protected]. We look forward to seeing you all in September Fashion Week!