It’s Friday of New York Fashion Week and 800 fashion kids are wrapped around the block of 37th Street in the heart of corporate Manhattan, waiting to immerse themselves in 29-year-old Danielle Guizio’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection at her New York Fashion Week experience. The collection is called “corporate deviance” and it’s Guizio’s fifth ready-to-wear namesake collection. She presents it tonight with multimedia wallpaper, an Instagram livestream, three DJs and the Fat Jewish’s Babe Spirits and Ciroc at high-tech venue Lightbox. The presentation deviates from the traditional Fashion Week runway showing—models strutting the new collection by an invite-only crowd for 15 minutes—as anyone who RSVP’d to the Instagram post is on the guest list for the three-hour ordeal (though the venue only fits 300 people) and the entire space is designed for maximal Instagram content.
“It makes the most sense to do a digital digital presentation,” says Guizio, lounging on a white couch in the center of the exhibition with videos of runway models wearing the collection and facial features projected on the wall before doors open. “I was discovered on Instagram. When you’re immersed in this digital experience, you see the numbers on Instagram—the comments, the likes—actually translate into real life.”
Guizio’s hoodies, suits, bathing suits have been worn frequently by the likes of Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid and Hailey Bieber. In 2018 she brought in millions in revenue. She has amassed nearly half a million followers on Instagram and in 2019 was named to the Forbes Under 30 list in Art & Style.
Guizio’s decision to present her collection with both an Instagram livestream and open invitation reflects a larger trend in shelving traditional runway for immersive experiences that maximize digital longevity, impressing the brand on as many people as possible. This lifts the tastemaker crown from media outlets to fashionable people with smartphones who’ve amassed loyal followings by wearing the right thing at the right place with the right crowd. Non-traditional showings can also narrow runway production expenses, which cost brands around $200,000, while widening profit margins. It comes as no surprise that Guizio’s brand is profitable.
For an emerging designer like Guizio, there’s also the optical return—and the currency is hype. With hundreds of ornately dressed people waiting to enter, it posits her collection like Yeezy or Supreme, whose product launches lead fashion fans to wait in line for hours to purchase the latest sneaker or hat. It makes sense: Guizio’s SS20 collection retails from $148 to $630–accessible luxury.
As a designer, Guizio has never walked the fashion institution walk. When Guizio dropped out of LIM College, a fashion business school nine years ago, she was almost certain she was abandoning her dream of designing her own clothes. “I was having a hard time fitting in. Fashion school gave me a bad perception of the fashion industry,” she says, wearing an aqua long-sleeve dress from her SS20 collection.
She moved back in with her parents in Fairfield, New Jersey, opting to continue her education by studying psychology at Essex County Community College. On the side she worked in retail at The Huntress and a jewelry store, scouring the Jersey suburbs for vintage pieces to sell on her website, posting everything to Twitter. That year she dedicated her tax return—$400—to screen printing a line of graphic tees. They sold out within a day.
“I’ve always been on the internet. I had a knack from the MySpace days of looking at how to turn my followers into sales,” says Guizio.
With money from the t-shirts, she moved her merch into a doctors office and began sewing, posting every piece to social. Celebrity stylists reached out—Hailey Bieber became her first celebrity fan and asked to come see her collection in-person while she still worked from the New Jersey doctor’s office.
Five years later she has six employees and three interns. And with this, her collection takes on corporate sexism: “There’s a lot of dominant feminism, but that’s not reflected in the workplace. I want to highlight the empowerment women should feel in the workplace and at night.”