On HBO's new series, 'relatable fashion show' no longer an oxymoron

Fashion Week kicks off in New York City today, and as designers send their looks down the runway this weekend, HBO will have a launch of its own: "How to Make It in America," a new comedy series about young friends trying to make it in the fashion industry. The show premieres at 10 p.m. on Sunday.

Wait -- don't stop reading. I know what you're thinking: You've been (choose one or several) unemployed, underemployed, strapped for cash for the last year. And you're just not in the mood to watch a bunch of unaffected rich kids flounce their way through the world's poshest business.

No problem -- because this is not that series. The protagonists of "How to Make It" aren't floating around the type of champagne-soaked, front-row scenes a long line of fashion shows and movies have made commonplace. These guys are well outside that world. For starters, they live in Brooklyn. They traffic the no-frills streets of the Garment District (which, interestingly enough, rarely make an appearance in fashion-themed shows). On a good day, they're folding shirts for an hourly wage at Barneys. On a bad one, they're peddling knockoff leather jackets on a Soho corner. The pilot contains a scene set at a dock. When was the last time you saw Whitney Port run that kind of errand?

In short, there's nothing glamorous about their lives -- and not just post-recession. "We worked on the pilot for about a year, and it was written before the economy changed," says Ian Edelman, the show's creator. "These guys have no dough. They're on the ground. Whether the economy's up or down, they're still scraping by."

Edelman is a native New Yorker who grew up idolizing the "figure it out as you go along" success of moguls like Russell Simmons and Ralph Lauren, this guy who was from the Bronx and worked at Bloomingdale's" before he built a retail empire.

With the series, Edelman revives the old idea that hard work and hustle is the best path to success -- not to mention the even older idea that, as one character exuberantly puts it, "Anything is still possible in America."
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