Independent Fashion Fridays – New York, New York

October 10, 2014

It’s Independent Fashion Friday and the Nolcha Fashion Week: New York team are staying close to home this week.  Here are 5 New York based independent fashion designers you simply must have on your radar.

Shana LutherBrand: Shana Luther

Origin: Brooklyn, USA


About: Shana Luther is a Brooklyn based designer that focuses on creating handbags with a classic style, but with an edge for today’s modern, independent woman. After graduating from Pratt Institute in 1999, she began to design and produce her own bags under the name SML Bags. A one woman show, Shana worked through every aspect of the creation process, from sketches through final sewing, to create her handmade leather and fabric bags. In 2012 she branched out with all new designs under the label Shana Luther Handbags. Designed exclusively by Shana, these bags are proudly manufactured in the USA. Since their debut, Shana Luther Handbags have been wildly popular with numerous fashion magazines and blogs. Shana’s designs earned her a Finalist position in Martha Stewart’s American Made Awards in 2013. Shana continues to generate new designs for her label while staying committed to American manufacturing as the company grows.

Jess RizzutiBrand: Jess Rizzuti

Origin: USA


About: Designer Jess Rizzuti first discovered her deeply-rooted interest in fashion as a young girl. This passion led her to enroll in the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Textiles. While learning about the industry, Jess found her greatest passion lied in a unique focus, Surface Pattern Design (graphics, textiles and product design focusing on mixed media and special techniques). This specialization would lead Rizzuti to continue her education at the renowned Fashion Institute of Technology, where she perfected her knowledge of Handbag and Accessory Design.

The designer’s innate creativity and extraordinary artistic abilities allowed her to indulge in interests such as mural painting, which further encouraged her to unearth her many design influences – travel, art, history, nature, textures and exquisite colors.

Jess is conscious of environmental impact and believes in exercising ethical practices. She earned a nomination three years in a row for her creations in cork as Best Green Handbag in the Independent Handbag Designer Awards sponsored by InStyle. The eco-friendly designs utilized water-based dyes and glue, heat-transferred patterns, renewable resources and waste-reducing concepts.


Christian BennerBrand: Christian Benner

Origin: USA


About: Beginning as a visual merchandiser for Victoria’s Secret, then taking the reigns as lead stylist and sales for Men’s wear at Internationally known vintage retailer, What Goes Around Comes Around, Chrsitian Benner has rapidly become one of the most in-demand creators in New York City’s cut throat underground fashion scene. Mastering the art of taking existing pieces (predominantly rock tees and leather goods) and redesigning, distressing and reviving ‘the old’ by giving them a new life, a second story, and definitely some amazing, one of a kind touches, is what stands him out from the rest – Catering to the likes of Brandon Flowers, Mila Kunis, Jakob Dylan, Brad Pitt, Taylor Swift, Donatella Versace and many others and receiving countless editorial features and stylings both domestically and overseas.

Christian Benner envisions taking a classic beat up rock and roll t-shirt, and turning it into high fashion.

Leka IFFBrand: Leka NYC

Origin: Russia


About the brand: Léka is a designer clothing brand that brings fresh ideas to the wardrobe of an independent and self confident modern women. Leka’s architectural background became a great base for the expression of infinite love through beautiful forms and shapes. Architectural ideas that are embodied in the fabric give life to the unique models for striking personalities, fashion enthusiasts and real women. Creative director and soul of the brand Léka sets the direction for the development of the brand and monitors the product range and stylistic components of the brand. The designer has a very special relation to the clothes.

Danilo Gabrielli IFFBrand: Danilo Gabrielli

Origin: Italy


About the brand: The Danilo Gabrielli brand is a high end fashion label founded by Italian designer, Danilo Gabrielli, with the mission to create beautiful, timeless designs for women that allow them to feel elegant and confident.
The brand was born in New York in September 2011 and expanded into the UK market in May 2012; produced locally and inspired globally. Rustic Italian roots, London artisans and an American dream makes Danilo Gabrielli a brand that is unique in sentiment, dramatic in design and luxurious in quality.

Independent Fashion Fridays

Independent Fashion Fridays is a weekly feature highlighting five independent fashion designers that have caught our attention; and we want to support in their brand growth.

If you are an independent fashion designer interested to be featured in the Independent Fashion Fridays series please email with more information about your brand.

Nolcha Fashion Week: New York, founded by Kerry Bannigan and Arthur Mandel, is a leading award winning event held during New York Fashion Week hosting independent fashion designer runway shows.