Abdul Abasi and Greg Rosborough, the founders of Abasi Rosborough, are out to change how we see NYFW and American designers with their Fall/Winter 2018 collection, the pair's eleventh and first-ever runway show. Concerned with where our society is headed and where technological advances are taking us, Abasi Rosborough crafted a collection that aims to play at the duality of our future: Are we headed toward a dystopian or utopian future?

The show took place at the Cadillac House, which is a CFDA venue that is certainly apt to handle futuristic technology. The venue features 16 large HD pillars on its sides running parallel to each other, with a runway in the middle and a large paneled screen at the end of that runway. Here, guitarist Tosin Abasi (of Animals As Leaders fame) and R&B singer/songwriter Kelela performed an original piece for the show that featured swelled, delayed, complex guitar chords and trilling lead riffs under Kelela’s smooth, angelic crooning that later gave way to a larger vocal range her fans have come to know her for.

There was something otherworldly about the show—I’m positive the dark crimson track lighting and oscillating blue, red and pink hues from the screens helped push this feeling. I posted a photo on my Instagram story yesterday from the show of a model in a technical yellow outerwear piece with a yellow shawl wrapped around his head with reflective pieces of tape on his face carefully arranged to look like some form of metallic mask. Someone responded, “Yo, which Star Wars is this?” and while I wouldn’t boil it down to a summation that simple, the sentiment isn’t that far off. Toeing the line between avant-garde and strictly tailored, many pieces in the collection would be at home in a near-distant future, but they are certainly perfect for life in 2018, too. I’ll add the new “Triple Black” Nike Air VaporMax Flyknit Utility sneakers, the only footwear in the show, was a perfect choice by Abasi and Rosborough. The collection is both wearable and utilitarian, and that’s always been Abasi Rosborough’s intent. If anyone can bring the juice back to NYFW, it’s these two. Whether we’re headed for a utopia or dystopia is unclear, but the future is bright for Abasi Rosborough.

This is your first runway show. How do you feel about doing one as opposed to a presentation and why did you choose runway?

Abdul Abasi: We wanted to take our time and build the business first; we wanted to refine the design process, make sure that we knew how to produce a collection and we feel like now, after five years, this is the time to do it. The collection is our most considered, cohesive, evolved collection yet. It has a lot of elements that we’re playing around with for the first time, so I think it needs to be shown in movement. It needs to be shown in a moment.

Greg Rosborough: We were talking about presentation versus runway and the easiest answer to that is: When you’re in design school and you look up to these other designers, you don’t aspire to anyone who’s doing presentations. You look up to designers who are doing shows, that are creating an exciting moment and we felt, as NYFW has been getting a bit beaten up in the press, (some things about designers leaving to Paris) we felt like America and New York needed to hit back creatively and have some fire in its shows from the emerging designers if its not going to come from the bigger people. We wanted to take on that responsibility. We’re about to hit our five year mark in a week and a half and the only analogy I could think of is that in the Kentucky Derby, the horse who’s in last place most of the race ends up coming up strong at the finish. You’ve got to hold back. If you try to get out there too quick, you lose steam. I don’t know if that’s the perfect analogy, but I just think we’ve been holding back and now we feel confident on designing, fabrications, production… we have press contacts, and all those kinds of things, so it’s time to come alive and show it.

What’s the theme of this collection?

AA: In a few words, utopia, dystopia. We’re living in a beautiful age of discovery of technology, of innovation, but as humans, we do have free will, and sometimes we make the wrong choices. I think that if we’re not careful, some of these technologies that we’ve created will come back to bite us in the rear end.

GR: Our phones and social media apps can recognize our faces, cars are driving themselves, you can modify your genes, you have cryptocurrencies—where are all these different elements of technological advances taking us? Is it utopia or dystopia? That’s the question. It’s everyone’s own perspective I guess.

And where is this all made?

AA: It’s made in New York. We really believe in making it in New York, we use a lot of deadstock fabrics, so we reclaim a lot of fabrics that are maybe 20, 30 years old. We’re super excited for this collection, because we did introduce some pieces that we started making in China, and we’ve been using really amazing manufacturing out there, just to be able to access a good price point for people. As we grow, we want to build something everyone can have a piece of, and I think that means something more global.

What does it mean to be an American designer in the current landscape?

GR: My perspective is, when we go over to Paris, I feel like people often question the American avant-garde, like: “Is there one?” Especially with menswear, there’s definitely more in womenswear. Personally, you don’t like hearing that because you think, “We have as good of ideas to do anything as creative as anyone else in the world.” I think it’s time for American designers to stand up and stake their claim that we’re also like—someone said recently, keep in mind that we’re in New York City, because New York City is still one of the hotbeds of creativity world-wide and I know we sometimes look at London and they have really fired up, emerging designers doing really creative things, or in Paris, or in Tokyo—but New York is on the same level as any of those, if not more.

AA: Cultural center of the world.

GR: I think it’s time to express our ideas and try new things. At the same time, as we’re pushing ideas, we also want to do an old-fashioned fashion show. We just wanted to get back to something exciting. Create that moment, create that buzz, and let loose in that way and not doing something stagnant like a presentation.

Tags: new-york-fashion-week, new-york, abasi-rosborough