Fierce

Designer Calls Out Fashion Publication For Cultural Appropriation Says ‘Homage Without Empathy Is Appropriation’

BoF (The Business of Fashion) is a fashion industry publication that is essentially a daily resource for news on the fashion industry as it pertains to business. Its founder and Editor In Chief is a fashion business advisor and writer, Imran Amed. The website has grown to print, and annually, BoF puts out a list of the top 500 people “shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry”. Additionally, BoF holds an annual invitation-only event bringing together “movers, shakers and trailblazers” in the fashion industry. The event, called “Voices” consists of a series of panels and talks that unite ” big thinkers, entrepreneurs and inspiring people who are shaping the wider world.” 

Last night, Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond, one of the 100 fashion professionals added to Business of Fashion’s prestigious list of people shaping the fashion industry, attended the BoF Gala in Paris to celebrate the new members added to the list this year. But while at the Gala, Jean-Raymond was faced with a few incidents that, added onto his personal experience with the publication and its founder Imran Amed, he found offensive and insensitive. What he saw at the Gala was the last straw, “I was at 60% ‘had it’ with this whole shit” he said in an op-ed about the whole experience and took to his social media to call out the disingenuous way in which BoF addressed diversity and inclusion.

instagram @kerbito

At the Gala, guests were greeted by a black gospel choir, but instead of feeling welcome, guests walked in feeling confused and uncomfortable.

credit instagram @aurorajames

Kerby, who founded his label Pyer Moss in 2013 as a menswear brand, and first started using the runway as a means to explore activism —His very first collection in 2015 was about “Black Lives Matter”  (It was never sold and is currently in the archive of the National Museum of African-American History and Culture)— shared some thoughts on his Instagram stories the night of the event. At the Gala, guests were awkwardly greeted by a black gospel choir. “This is some insulting shit” wrote Jean-Raymond who himself, assembled a gospel choir for his last show at New York Fashion Week —which aimed to highlight the untold stories of Black people’s major contributions to American culture.  

Fellow fashion designer and founder of accessories brand ‘Brother Vellies’, Aurora James, also commented on the choir in her own Insta stories, tagging @BoF and writing, “Not everyone gets to have a black gospel choir. I’m so confused. Aren’t we supposed to be celebrating diversity and inclusion? Not appropriation? We are at a fashion awards show. Fashion exploits more women of color than any other industry. Why is there a black gospel choir?”

In his final Instagram Story from the event, Jean-Raymond wrote, “Diversity and Inclusion is a trend for these folks. BoF 499, I’m off the list.” But the choir was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back after months of negative experiences with ‘Business of Fashion’. The designer went on to explain the whole experience in an open letter published on Medium.com. 

The gospel choir was just the last straw that broke the camel’s back after months of negative experiences with BoF and Imran Amed himself.

“Last year, I was invited to speak at and attend BoF Voices. I was told they wanted to hear my story of the formation of PM and how I’ve navigated the industry. As an outsider for so long, I was proud to be invited and get to share my story,” said the designer who also highlighted that he had stopped doing “group panels” which he found, just “lump us all in, ‘Black in Fashion’ or ‘Diversity & Inclusion'” as opposed to making space for individual people of color to express their ideas and tell their own stories.  He stressed that he agreed to do a “solo panel” and at the very last minute —while he was already on the plane to London— he was informed that the event was now a group panel.

He agreed to participate because of his “immense respect for the other panelists, “Patrick and LaQuan as designers who like me are black” he wrote. He admits thought, that he did it begrudgingly because “in reality all three of us have our own unique narratives and history’s that warranted our own separate solo stages. The same solo stages that all the other white designers have received, for years.”

Kerby described how the experience was “lowkey degrading” and quickly evolved into a heated and straight up problematic conversation. He declined to share details but said that himself and a few other panelists were offended and left the campus the very next day, ending the trip 2 days short. 

Kerby was contacted by BoF founder Imran Amed and offered one of the magazine covers, they began a series of meetings and phone calls that would turn sour.

credit instagram @kerbito

He was subsequently contacted by Imran himself who apologized and said the designer had been selected to be one of the three covers of overs of the BoF 500 magazine. “Big “oh shit” moment for me. ????, me, cover.” he wrote in the Medium.com open letter, “So this now began a series of phone calls between him and I and meetings in Paris.” The New York City based designer went on to explain how Imran had picked his brain during months, for names to include in the “list of diverse people”, Jean-Raymond shared information about personal and creative projects including his new appointment at Reebook, which was private information he had shared “in the spirit of transparency” for the story to be published later in the year. After their last meeting, “he [Imran Amed] looked satisfied with the information he’d received and I left feeling chill but weird.”  Just moments after the meeting was over, BoF founder and Editor-In-Chief, texted Jean-Raymond to let him know he was no longer to be included in the cover; “Like really soon after that meeting saying ‘we are going to go a different route with the cover’…”.

Pyer Moss designer attended the Gala begrudgingly and in the spirit of peacemaking.

“I have let a lot of shit slide because I do think a lot of problems can be resolved without public provocation. I typically prefer not to be blacklisted. I hate being the only one that talks up.” he wrote. But when Imran stood up to give a shout out to the people who inspired him to focus the issue on Diversity and Inclusion, he called out at least 20 names, “including Olivier Rousteing and Pierpaolo Picolli as leaders in ‘Diversity and Inclusion.’ I was excluded.” Both Olivier Rousteing, creative designer at Balmain, and Pierpaolo Picolli, creative designer at Valentino, have been accused of insensitive cultural appropriation.

A screenshot of one of Pierpaolo Picolli’s problematic campaigns shot for Valentino. credit: instagram @aurorajames 

To have your brain picked for months, be told that your talk at the ‘salon’ and work inspired this whole thing, and then be excluded in favor of big brands who cut the check is insulting.

It was he level of entitlement that lay at the core of the whole thing what angered the designer. He retells how at one point the choir went on stage and Imran started dancing with them. In an industry where racial bias is prevalent and diversity is still not represented as widely as it should be, people feel like they can buy or own whatever they want, as it pertains to the culture of people of color, as it “pertains to blackness. We always up for sale.”

Kerby made sure to point out that he claims no ownership for choirs, or Christianity or the safe spaces that these brought to black people, the choir was not the issue, he made sure to express that; “Homage without empathy and representation is appropriation,” “By replicating ours and excluding us— you prove to us that you see us as a trend. Like, we gonna die black, are you?”

In a time when brands are starting committees, reaching out to ignored and oppressed communities and reviewing their hiring processes to be more inclusive; the exploitation and “othering” of the culture and struggles of people of color for a privileged group’s benefit, is still prevalent. “I understand that you have to make money, we all are selling something, but dawg, not your soul. And not ours.” It’s clear that Jean-Raymond isn’t going to hold back on expressing his thoughts. Nor should he. As he said in his Medium post, “me getting checks is not going to stop me from checking you.”

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Maluma Teams Up With Luxury Brand Balmain For This Must-Have Fashion Collection

Entertainment

Maluma Teams Up With Luxury Brand Balmain For This Must-Have Fashion Collection

It’s 2021 and we have no shortage of epic collaborations between some of the world’s biggest Latino stars and top fashion brands. Everyone from J Balvin and Bad Bunny to Cardi B and now Maluma have entered the fashion industry to sell a lifestyle. And people are buying!

Maluma and French fashion house Balmain bring us a limited-edition collaboration.

Colombian superstar Maluma has partnered with French fashion house Balmain to launch a limited edition collection that will be available from April 12 through June 1 in all Balmain stores, including brick and mortar and online.

The collection, which includes sneakers, blazers, t-shirts, pants and other ready-to-wear clothing, will also be available at Saks Fifth Avenue as of April 15.

The Balmain + Maluma line marks the first time ever the brand has designed a line with a celebrity. And it seems like the brand’s creative designer is pretty excited about the collab. Through photos on his Instagram, Olivier Rousteing referred to the reggaetón singer as his inspiration, captioned with supportive laudatory messages about merging their cultures and joint design process.

“Maluma, more than him being an incredible singer,” Rousteing notes, “[brings] a lot to the fashion community with his joy and his happiness and the fact that he’s always playing up his style from different kinds of houses from around the world, mixing different cultures as well… I think the collaboration with Maluma is obviously giving to Balmain and pushing the aesthetic more internationally.”

Maluma also seems to be pumped for the opportunity!

Although Balmain has featured other celebrities in advertising campaigns and runway shows, it has never actually enlisted a celebrity to help design a full, name-branded line.

The brand’s high profile, along with the haute-couture retail price of the collection, underscores how entrenched Maluma is now in the global fashion world and how valuable his endorsement and name is perceived by high fashion.

“It’s been one of my goals to work with a respected fashion house on a collection, but this journey was more exciting, as Olivier pushed me to design with him and sketch looks that I personally will wear off the stage and showcase high couture with a bit of Papi Juancho,” says Maluma, referencing both his album name and alter ego.

But if you want a piece of the collection be prepared to drop those coins.

Credit: Phraa / Balmain

Items in the Balmain + Maluma collection range from a black cotton T-shirt that retails for $495, to $1,500 high top sneakers to a $2,555 multi-color print bomber jacket.

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Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

Entertainment

Met Gala 2021 Is Happening And Amanda Gorman Is Set To Host The America-Themed Fashion Event

It’s 2021 and the Met Gala is back this year – after being canceled in 2020 thanks to a pandemic – with superstar poet Amanda Gorman being eyed to host the fashion event of the year. Given the 23-year-old’s show-stopping performance at the inauguration, the theme fittingly will be a celebration of America and American designers.

The Met Gala will return in 2021 with a very special guest as host.

Vogue’s “Oscars of Fashion” famously takes place on the first Monday of May. However, this year it’s been pushed back to September 13, in hopes that life will have returned to something closer to normal by then.

Epic poet Amanda Gorman is reportedly in talks to co-host the event alongside Tom Ford, who is the academy’s president. The breakout star of President Biden’s inauguration, Gorman is on the cover of the magazine’s May issue and the subject of a relentlessly glowing profile inside.

The black-tie gala, which raises funds for Met’s Costume Institute, is normally fashion’s biggest night and sees guests from Lady Gaga, Jennifer Lopez and Cardi B to Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and even Maluma.

The event was canceled in 2020 thanks to a global pandemic.

The world’s most glamorous party was canceled in 2020 because of COVID-19, which was (and still is) raging the planet at the time. There was a virtual event in place of the 2020 event, with celebs like Julia Roberts, Priyanka Chopra and Amanda Seyfried showing off their looks from home and stars like Mindy Kaling and Adam Rippon taking part in the #MetGalaChallenge, recreating looks from past years.

This year’s event will draw inspiration from all things USA.

The theme of this year’s Met Gala has not been announced, but Page Six says the night will be devoted to honoring America and American designers, following the 18-month-long COVID crisis in this country.

Recent past themes for the event have included “Camp: Notes on Fashion” (2019), “Heavenly Bodies: Fashion and the Catholic Imagination” (2018), and “Rei Kawakubo/Comme des Garçons: Art of the In-Between (2017). And don’t forget 2016, when Zayn Malik wore robot-arms to Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology.

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