Cult of Selkie – Selkie at New York Fashion Week Spring 2023

Entering the Selkie’s The Spring/Summer 2023 runway show was akin to joining an unapologetic celebration of all shapes, sizes and forms of femininity. Not just because of the casting, but the audience itself was a true testament to the cult following of the brand that founder Kimberley Gordon has created. At any other fashion event, you can see a few celebrities in the front row wearing the label. But at Selkie’s second appearance during New York Fashion Week, almost everyone was wearing something from the line, and the style was incredibly diverse: there were magical, full-on gothic looks. Lolita-Stylish dresses and formal dresses galore.

“It’s like girl code,” Gordon tells us of the Selkie community, a day before the show, which took place late last week at industrial bar 99 Scott in Brooklyn. For the occasion, sheer pink fabric was hung from every window and sunlight poured onto the concrete floors with shadow beams, making the space look like a hideaway from a weird movie. Since Selkie’s inception, Gordon has made it her mission to stock every piece up to a 5X size. “I have always been surrounded and attracted by women,” she says. “And I think it’s a true reflection of the brand’s interior.”

A model walks the runway at Selkie’s Spring/Summer 2023 show.

Paolo Lanzi /

Selkie’s spring/summer 2023 show was not only arguably the most diverse runway show of all of NYFW, but it was also perhaps the most girlish-embracing—with flip-flops, bows, frocks, oversized collars, and pillow-like bags. . No models were wearing pants! Gordon was inspired by the movie The last unicorn and honored her with a collection that brought out the quirky vibes and transformed them into the sugary outfits that came down the runway. “My idea for The last unicorn does this girl live in town who doesn’t know she’s a unicorn,” she says. “Or maybe she’s the daughter of the last unicorn. She’s kind of an outsider, someone who never feels like she fits in, but dresses wildly and freely.”

Gordon launched Selkie to the world in 2018, having previously created the girls’ casual brand Wildfox, a Tumblr-era hot girl favorite known for its slinky sweats and tees covered in whimsical prints and drawings . She studied film and draws much of her inspiration from that kind of story, resulting in collections inspired by everything from vampires to 60s-era icons. “I’m always looking for a way to tell a story, because fashion for me is more than just clothes – it’s like suddenly you’re dressing characters.”


Puffy dress in Selkie.

Paolo Lanzi /

Selkie was born with puffy dress, and several other elements that feel downright feminine and essentially designed with the female gaze in mind. The Puffy Dress, in all its glory, is an extra-short, slightly flowy, extra-voluminous dress with a strong empire waist, which Selkie has reinterpreted from the ground up in everything from rainbow hues to cloud prints and similar patterns. Marie Antoinette.

“When I started the company, I was doing everything in Los Angeles, and I had this dream of making a lot of princess dresses,” says Gordon. “There’s still something really romantic about that silhouette, and its history is really interesting. The history of the babydoll in general is somewhat feminist.” Since taking off the label’s puffy dress, it has gone viral TIK Tok and garnered plenty of fast-fashion knockoffs, but the silhouette is still central to the brand’s defining aesthetic, even despite the proliferation of clothing. “This empire waist silhouette will always be the traditional look for the Selkie,” says Gordon.

It’s been one of the least diverse fashion week seasons in years, and in many ways, it feels like we’re going backwards when labels with the biggest names, and therefore, influence, don’t make any effort to get at least one. model that does not fit the traditional fashion size category. That’s one of the reasons Selkie drew such a crowd this season and last: “When I started the company, I knew I wanted to be size inclusive,” says Gordon. “But that to me means having silhouettes that are actually universally wearable. I realized, I have to look at myself. Like, what is my fatphobia? What is my story? Why didn’t I do it before with my first brand? I think a lot of us have such a severe fatphobia, so pushed into us from such a young age, that we actually can’t even see it’s there.”

It’s not about looking, it’s about seeing yourself [and] taking place in your life.”

Beyond the inclusivity aspect, the Selkie brand brings home the deep sense of nostalgia that many of us are craving right now. We are living in an age where our culture is currently obsessed with dolls, of all different shapes, and Selkie plays into that, too: “Having this big puffy dress creates a kind of figure that’s really interesting and very doll-like,” Gordon says of the puffy dress’s appeal. “Many of the women who want to dress this way, I think, are interested in dolls, or were when they were little. There is something so beautiful about tapping into this childhood memory or nostalgia.”


A look at the Selkie SS23.

Paolo Lanzi /

The other thing about Selkie’s enviable dresses? They take up space, and lots of it, which is a powerful move in the age of being a woman in 2022. It’s not uncommon for you to knock something over in a crowded space while wearing one. such, and it is also likely that you will occupy more than one place with a puffy dress. “When I wear it, it’s literally taking up more space,” says Gordon. “But it’s not about looking, it’s about looking at yourself [and] taking place in your life. A lot of us, I think, feel like we have to hide, and there have been times in my life where I’ve wanted to disappear, and I just really hope to change that feeling for women in general.”

It’s clear that Selkie is bringing something to fashion week that is much needed. Perhaps the only thing lacking in the Selkie universe is age diversity on the runway. Of course, there were plenty of old women wearing glorious big dresses in the front row. Perhaps the brand’s status as a cool girl is also rooted in everyone’s festive atmosphere. The pandemic seems to have recently ended and dressing up in a shockingly feminine dress is a powerful statement in an everyday setting.

“When they put on that dress, they feel like crying or celebrating,” says Gordon. “I have a girl on the show who I don’t think has ever dressed like this; she is very shy. And she looked in the mirror and she had to look away and look back.” Perhaps the most exciting thing of all is rocking the outfit that feels totally, unashamedly, a celebration of girlhood.

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