Skip to main content
BoF Logo

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.

Fforme: A Quiet Luxury Label Making Noise in New York

‘I think New York is hungry for the level of quality we offer,’ says designer Paul Helbers ahead of Fforme’s runway debut on Sunday.
"I think New York is hungry for the level of quality we offer," says designer Paul Helbers ahead of Fforme’s runway debut on Sunday.
"I think New York is hungry for the level of quality we offer," says designer Paul Helbers ahead of Fforme’s runway debut on Sunday. (Annemarieke van Drimmelen)
BoF PROFESSIONAL

NEW YORK — Last September, Dutch designer Paul Helbers showed his second collection for Fforme at a Chelsea gallery where the clothes hung from the ceiling, exuding a sense of luxury missing from most New York labels. There were no logos, no fussy details, nothing unnecessary.

What matters most for Helbers is the silhouette. “Fforme is about women who want to express themselves with shapes and architectural forms,” he says. “For me the two Fs mean foundation and fundamental change. It’s about going back to making clothes in a traditional, three-dimensional way that highlights the body by covering it, so there is a sensuality to it.”

Before the rise of the term “quiet luxury,” Fforme’s understated elegance used to be called minimalism. Its progenitor was Jil Sander, not that Helbers needs to lean on a legacy: his experience designing menswear for Martin Margiela, Louis Vuitton and The Row speaks for itself.

Now, Helbers is gearing up for Fforme’s runway debut at New York Fashion Week with a show set for Sunday at the DiMenna Center.

ADVERTISEMENT

A look from Fforme’s runway debut.
A look from Fforme’s runway debut. (Courtesy)

“We could have shown in Paris or Milan, but I feel like it would be a bit harder to draw attention there,” admits Helbers. “The brand originated in New York, but there is a European sense of refinement to it. I think New York is hungry for the level of quality we offer.”

His background in menswear has an unmistakable influence on the line. “In menswear, a lot of what you have to know about construction, cut and detail is close to the body, but it defines how the garment looks on the outside,” he says. “I brought that method to womens, and turned it into something unstructured but that retains the precision of tailoring.”

Fforme is backed by Helbers’ co-founder Nina Khosla and remains a relatively small business. It launched with a focus on direct-to-consumer distribution, but counts influential stores like Net-a-Porter, MyTheresa, 180 The Store and Andreas Murkudis among its 20 stockists and is expanding its wholesale footprint.

“Fforme very much fits within our vision, in fact, it sort of embodies it; a brand that is founded on details, quality, and timelessness,” says 180 The Store’s Denise Williamson. The label has also attracted approval from critics like Cathy Horyn and Rachel Tashjian.

A look from Fforme’s runway debut.
A look from Fforme’s runway debut. (Courtesy)

It’s an auspicious start, but with no shortage of competition Fforme will need to convince clients that it offers a unique proposition, especially as its uncompromising pieces come at a high price: a felted wool-cashmere blend pullover retails for $1,400; a cropped down puffer jacket goes for $2,990.

What’s more, these are clothes that don’t translate well on social media. For all the talk about quiet luxury, Instagram and TikTok don’t favour the kind of luxe minimalism that underpins Fforme.

Fforme’s loose-fitting garments may be well positioned for a return-riddled e-commerce market, but Helbers wants a store: “I feel the emotion really comes when I see people try on the clothes.”

© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions

More from Fashion Week
Independent show reviews from fashion’s top critics.

What I Learned From Fashion Month

From where aspirational customers are spending to Kering’s challenges and Richemont’s fashion revival, BoF’s editor-in-chief shares key takeaways from conversations with industry insiders in London, Milan and Paris.


view more

Subscribe to the BoF Daily Digest

The essential daily round-up of fashion news, analysis, and breaking news alerts.

The Business of Fashion

Agenda-setting intelligence, analysis and advice for the global fashion community.
CONNECT WITH US ON
The Business of Beauty Global Forum
© 2024 The Business of Fashion. All rights reserved. For more information read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Cookie Policy and Accessibility Statement.
The Business of Beauty Global Forum