Next in Fashion Review


Netflix’s latest reality competition, Next in Fashion, may appear like an unsubtle copycat of Project Runway, yet its viewers still find it enjoyable. Its likable hosts (notably Tan France from Queer Eye ) and stunning designs to hilarious anecdotes and jokes made this an entertaining binge-watch show.

However, this show’s real draw lies in its designs rather than its high drama levels.

The concept

Next in Fashion is Netflix’s latest reality competition TV offering. Like Project Runway, designers are given ten episodes to complete various challenges and show their finished designs on the catwalk – winning designers receive $250,000 towards their fashion line and are eligible to sell through Net-a-Porter. Competitors on Next in Fashion are professional fashion designers with years of experience under their belts; many already own their labels!

What sets this show apart from others is its diversity. Contestants come from Mexico, UK, and India, among others, and this reflects in their designs; cultural references can often be seen, while personal experiences also inspire. Transgender designer James Ford recreated a pre-transition outfit as menswear, while Vietnamese refugee Qaysean Williams designed something inspired by her mother’s experiences working in sweatshops.

Next in Fashion is an entertaining, likable series that makes binge-watching enjoyable. Although the episodes could have been better spaced out, and its use of more “shocking” elements in challenges feels overdone at times, Next in Fashion makes an enjoyable introduction to the world of fashion competitions. It is entertaining, likable, and features fun humor – an excellent combination for binge-viewing!

However, this show suffers from several issues that are pretty prevalent in this genre. Designers are constantly reminded to ‘express themselves,’ which may not seem revolutionary but does demonstrate one of the significant flaws with fashion-themed competitions.

The hosts

Netflix initially planned on canceling their feel-good reality competition series, The Great American Makeover: Tan France and Alexa Chung rallied together to save it and kept its format while adding model/actress Gigi Hadid as host for their version of it.

France and Hadid make for dynamic hosts, channeling Mel Giedroyc and Sue Perkins from Great British Bake Off into this show’s hosting role. They take the time to meet every contestant, offer congratulations after victories, and allow viewers to pet their workstations (in keeping with its theme).

Their banter is lighthearted, yet their critique is thoughtful and constructive; for example, they point out when designs aren’t practical and encourage designers to push themselves creatively. Their approach offers a welcome change from reality shows, where hosts merely offer opinions without considering what work has gone into each garment.

Next, Fashion is marred by its hastened creation process; when designers are given only eight hours to come up with coronation-ready looks, it becomes more of a race than an opportunity for designers to show their true talent and create something fabulous.

France and Hadid, along with guest judges, seem enamored of two East Asian contestants (Angel Chen and Minju Kim) for reasons other than their actual designs; it appears this may be due to a Western fascination with East Asian culture rather than any merit in these designs themselves; which is unfortunate as both of these contestants possess the talent and deserve the chance to shine.

The designers

Next in Fashion is Netflix’s newest reality TV offering, and it features no amateur designers; each designer brings extensive experience from within the fashion industry, some even working as ghost designers for celebrity brands! In 10 episodes, Next in Fashion pits them against each other through various challenges which put their vision, construction technique, and knowledge of current trends to the test.

Next Fashion stands out from reality shows by taking itself more seriously and producing stunning designs without being exploitative or overt. One of its laudable aspects, though, is its diversity: contestants hailing from Mexico, the US, UK India, as well as transgender designer James Ford who reinvents a childhood outfit into menswear, and Vietnamese refugee Qaysean Williams who uses only his right hand when sewing (though some other contestants may use both hands simultaneously).

Next in Fashion is not free from its share of issues related to fashion reality shows, most notably its fetishization of fashion and its glorifying of self-expression through clothing choices; its hosts, judges, and guest commentators repeatedly talk about expressing oneself through clothing – an obsession which seems emblematic of moralizing that pervades much of fashion’s industry.

At the core of this new series lies its focus on criticizing Black contestants, particularly Kianga ‘KiKi’ Milele and Farai Simoyi-Agdebe of color. For instance, judges and hosts heavily criticized their interpretation of a suit challenge as unfinished and therefore failing – an approach reminiscent of what had plagued Project Runway last season and has continued in this new one.

The challenges

Next in Fashion is, on its face, an antidote to Project Runway. The show stars established designers – those without their labels but working in fashion – who face tight turnaround and limited fabric selection requirements under pressure-cooker conditions, with hosts Queer Eye star Tan France and British fashion icon Alexa Chung providing light supervision over proceedings, even though its age rating warns viewers against bloody injury details in one episode there are plenty of high-octane moments (a fight over zipper) which make it hard not to tune in and watch closely!

Contestants in each episode must design and create a runway-ready creation based on an episodic theme, testing their vision, construction technique, fashion trends understanding, and working in pairs within less than two days to create their designs. Each challenge also features celebrity judges like Gigi Hadid, Hailey Bieber, Emma Chamberlain, or Donatella Versace, who serve as celebrity guest judges during that episode.

Challenge themes range from thrift-inspired outfits and royal wear to reinventions of timeless garments like trench coats and turtlenecks. At the same time, designers must produce looks quickly while judges provide commentary about them. Unfortunately, missteps by judges and some frantic camera angles prevent this show from being as captivating as it could be; nonetheless, France is an engaging host, and her jaw-dropping designs and subtle moments of comedy make this worth a binge-watch!

The eliminations

Next in Fashion is an enjoyable departure from typical reality competition fare, instead focusing on elevating its designers rather than trash talk or catfights. Project Runway, notorious for its biased casting, could learn something from this show; Next in Fashion has an incredibly diverse group of contestants; transgender designer James Ford transforms pre-transition childhood outfits as menswear for competition purposes; Vietnamese refugee Tranchi recounts her mother’s job in a sweatshop; Qaysean Williams with Erb’s palsy calls himself the “one hand sewing man.” These contestants add layers to this competition that would otherwise not exist elsewhere – they add depth that Project Runaway could only dream about.

This competition’s challenges don’t meet your expectations either; At the same time, there are moments of drama onscreen that don’t over-dramatize events, like when Tan France falls and tears well up over it, leading her to walk out and cry with Chung after an injury-inducing incident occurs. Netflix’s age rating warns viewers about the possibility of bloody injuries being detailed by producers, which they don’t shy away from.

Still, the show does contain its fair share of dubious decisions. Kiki and Farai were disqualified in a lingerie challenge where judges focused on their lack of “perky breasts.” Kerby Jean-Raymond protested their removal during final judging – this should have provided an opportunity to dig further into his objections, but instead, this decision was put off until the next episode; otherwise, the attacks have been relatively good overall; overall, it’s an improvement on its predecessor; don’t compare Project Runway to it for sheer scale!