I never thought I would be a fashion girl, as my friends say.

I moved to New York on a whim, no job, no apartment, just the idea that I was going to work in medical science research. That was almost four years ago. How quickly things change.

Since relocating to a fashion capital, I’ve experimented a lot with my personal style. I’ve studied how the people in the city express themselves, whether that be in their daytime work outfit or the weekend night look. Like the best student, I took what I liked and started to incorporate it into my own looks. This was supplemented by the fashion bible (see: Instagram) as well. Over time I started to craft my own personal style perspective, and at this point I have a pretty good idea of what I like and what looks good on me. But sometimes, it’s hard to tell.

SEE ALSO: I’ll never forget what I learned at my first fashion show

Being in such a heavily creative and visually stimulating city can easily make me feel less than if I walk out with a simple tee and jeans. Is this you? What are you trying to say with this look? Ok, part of this might be my own anxiety, but when you’re constantly surrounded by luxury designer brands and boundary-pushing style, it’s easy to get caught up in it all.

So imagine how anxious I was when Very Good Light was invited to sit front row – or as the fashion tribe calls it, FROW – at the VFILES show? What would I wear? Should I go more street? What about that skirt I bought the other day, can I do something with that?

I ended up going with a cropped white tank with cutouts that showed off my shoulders and clavicle, baggy black pants, my chunky Reebok trainers, and the Helmut Lang bra bag. 90’s model meets 2018 androgyny meets European teenage boy.

What if I don’t look the part? Is my outfit too boring? Do I belong here?

When I got to the show there was already a hoard of people either waiting to get in or for their friends. Unclear, but in either case, they were waiting. And New Yorkers love waiting.

I walked through to inside Barclay’s center where the show was being presented and clocked the impeccable style of the other attendees. Balenciaga sneakers, Gucci bags, DIY shirt-dresses, and one guy wasn’t even wearing a top. He instead had “BUY ME” painted on his torso. If that isn’t quintessential New York Fashion, I don’t know what is.

Photo courtesy VFILES

Upon entering the stadium, loud music and smoke greeted my nerve-sprinkled senses. The show was a lot bigger and high-production than I expected. My mind started to panic.

What if I don’t look the part? Is my outfit too boring? Do I belong here?

The saving grace, at least for the moment, was when I introduced myself as press and was led to my front row seat. Ah, there’s nothing quite like the power-trip of establishing yourself as someone with clout.

“Cute look,” the guy who was seated next to me said to me with a smile. I was caught off guard, more so because I wasn’t expecting the people, especially sitting in front-row to be…nice.

In surveying the rest of the crowd, there was no shortage of diversity. A range of races, gender, and styles filled the room. Some looked like they came straight from work, while other prepared a full fantasy look, headpiece and all. Ages ranged from what looked like 16 all the way up to those in their 50’s and 60’s. Everyone was there to live for the fashion. This is New York, after all.

Photo courtesy VFILES

The emerging designers who started off the show didn’t disappoint either. MARRKNULL gave us a sporty Balenciaga-esque wedding look for the groom and bride, while SHUTING QIU served Asian martian meets club kid. There were definitely a few looks from that collection that I would wear. The amazing thing was that no one look was identical to another, just like the audience.

VFILES being the hip, multidisciplinary brand that they are, brought young talent to perform between runway shows. Teen girls from New York, New Jersey, and Australia electrified the room with their unique sound. No one performer being identical to another.

Closing out the show was VFILES’ own Yellow Label collection which featured bare-faced models strutting a hot pink dress, deconstructed overalls, and a final yellow number worn by Lil Kim. It was fashion for everyone, by everyone.

Leaving the front row of the show, I felt almost silly for the preconceived notions I had prior. No one was catty. No one shamed me for my outfit. In fact, everyone was celebrating each other’s unique sense of style.. And that’s what stands out about VFILES and its fans: that there is no one-size-fits-all recipe to their perspective. People of all different background and aesthetics are appreciated. At the end of the day, it’s about having fun and doing you (as cheesy as that sounds). Getting excited about fashion and each other amidst constant bad news we’re surrounded by felt like I was back in 2008 when Obama got elected. It simply felt good. I felt like I belonged. And that’s what fashion should be all about.

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