A Conversation with The Break Founder Hannah Richtman: On the Vintage Brand's first NYFW Runway Show
Vintage clothing just broke NYFW.
Elevated looks complete with color-popping tights, oversized trench coats, angular hats, shoulder pads, pointed boots and hard lip colors worn by an interactive assembly of models immersed with their audience was the commencing landscape of vintage shop The Break’s, first ever NYFW show.
The show completely shattered the fourth wall, challenging everything we know about fashion, vintage wear, retail, and inclusivity.
This vision was brought to fruition by thrift-enthusiast, female entrepreneur, and owner of The Break herself, Hannah Richtman.
“I wanted to take NYFW and flip it on its head and say, actually it doesn’t need to be invite only. There doesn’t need to be a RSVP. You can create something really special and elevated and chic with real people, and it will be taken seriously. So that’s what I was out to prove tonight,” explains Richtman.
19-year-old photography student Myles Loftin was in the audience and says he was especially drawn to the show because it wasn’t invite-based.
“You know how a lot of fashion events tend to be very exclusive,” says Loftin. “That can kind of get toxic sometimes so I think it’s great that anyone who wanted to come can come. It’s not one of those shows where you have to try and work your way in or say you know this person who knows this person. This is just like you come because you like the brand.”
Loftin was not the only one who felt welcomed in a fashion environment that generally tends to feel exclusionary.
Maria Zabarain, 18, says even though she was in the audience, the show’s “beautiful setup” made her feel involved and because “it’s open to all, it doesn’t feel like [they're trying to] exclude you.”
“So it’s nice to be able to go to at least one fashion show during NYFW,” says Zabarain.
Richtman’s desire to present her first NYFW show as an inclusive, interactive and open space is not a new approach for her, rather, it trails everything that The Break’s mantra stands for: to bridge the gap between runway and reality.
“The idea is to break away from a retail experience that everyone is used to and it doesn’t work,” she says. “It’s the idea of creating a community through fashion that is not snobby, but instead really inclusive and very diverse and celebrates fashion. It’s about accessibility. It’s about being able to afford your outfit and then being able to afford going out to dinner in that outfit.”
Enga Domingue, 19, has been shopping at The Break for a few months now and says it’s a refreshing place to shop vintage in an otherwise overwhelming scene of overpriced selection.
“I think that people take advantage of the whole vintage trend and make things overpriced. And you know, that’s great; Make your money, but I think [The Break] keep it affordable and reasonable while still having beautiful pieces and a great selection,” says Domingue.
The Break’s ability to stay affordable is also capped with its aim to stay accessible and relevant. Because while the rest of the fashion industry is presenting Spring, The Break showcased its Fall and Winter line to help people feel the relativity in viewing looks that they can and want to wear this season.
Looks including strong shoulders, tailored suits, colored tights and monochrome- collectively producing the androgynous and '80s-power quality while equally elegant and, as Richtman explains it, “really fucking chic.”
Dressed in an all-black turtleneck dress bearing a little slouch, with bright green tights and turquoise pointed mules, The Break model Alvina Bokhari, 21, explained that she loved being a part of the show because of Hannah.
“She wants to make sure that everyone’s comfortable and loves what they’re wearing,” Bokhari says. “She’s literally the mother of everyone.”
Richtman produced 28 pieces in all. And while each look served its own purpose, the crowd seemed to collectively agree with the sentiment, “I’d wear that.”
With its modest approach to vintage wear and comprehensive modification to the retail experience, this multi-faceted brand is only just getting started and continues to confront and reinvent the wheel of the fashion industry--proving that at the end of the day it’s not about a product. It’s about a lifestyle.
As for what The Break will break next, Richtman says whatever the community wants, “The Break can give it to them.”
Written by: Calla Camero
Photography by: Jacqueline Harriet