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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.”

Ditch The Sexy Witch Costume This Year In Favor Of A Not-So-Basic Getup: We Rounded Up Our Fave Mermaid Inspired Makeup Looks For Halloween

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Ditch The Sexy Witch Costume This Year In Favor Of A Not-So-Basic Getup: We Rounded Up Our Fave Mermaid Inspired Makeup Looks For Halloween

We’re all a little basic sometimes. And don’t get me wrong, I love a quick costume that I can pick up at a local Forever 21 as much as the next girl. But we all know the costumes that get overdone year after year; the witch, the sexy nurse, the black cats, the angel… they’re just straight-up basic. So how about this year you try something that doesn’t feel outdated or boring? Like a mystical creature from the depths of the sea.

2019 has been the year of the mermaid, so why not channel your inner sea-princess this Halloween?

credit Instagram @peter_garcia8

2019 has been the year of overhyped mermaids. From the wild reactions people had to Halle Bailey playing Ariel in The Little Mermaid’s live action remake announced earlier this year, to the premiere of The Little Mermaid Live! —another remake of the classic Disney film to be broadcasted on live TV. What’s more, mermaids are one of Pinterest’s top costume searches, even in 2019.

So we say, clad yourself in pearls, seashells and glittery scales. You could go modern and sleek, Nicole Kidman-style in Aquaman, or classic and romantic like Disney’s children’s classic. This costume gives you lots of room to let your creativity run wild and make the mystical character your own. 

We wanted to offer some help, so we rounded up our favorite mermaid makeup inspo for you to get planning your Halloween getup:

 Technicolor Barbie doll inspired mermaid.

credit Instagram @wiktoria_makeup

Think 90s Mermaid Barbie doll. No Barbie-inspired makeup look is complete without Barbie Pink and Purple. For this look, beauty blogger, Wiktoria went all out with those Barbie-inspired hues. Iridescent products are key for any mermaid interpretation, so don’t be shy. Bring the color from your cheekbones to the side of your face and brows for a colorful, artful take on the underwater look.

Pearls are a mermaid’s best friend

credit Instagram @Jamescharles

When constructing a sea-themed costume, pearls are a must for a luxe, boujee mermaid look. Case in point: James Charles. And because we’re guessing you’ll be tired after you’re done struggling to glue those pearls on your face, keep the rest of the look natural. Maybe add blue tones to your eyes for an under-the-sea feel, and top it all off with metallic blue lips.

Iridescent scales 

Credit Instagram @miniinaaz

Yes, this looks like you need a certain level of makeup experience and expertise to pull off the technique. But we promise you, it’s a lot easier than it looks. Recreate the look of self-confessed makeup geek, Naz Rahman, by using fishnet stockings. Hold the stocks over your face and dust the iridescent shadows through the holes. Easier than you thought, amirite?

The Little Mermaid with a twist 

credit Instagram @zhilabeauty

…if the fishnet tip is still too much work. Draw the scales with colorful eyeliner. Put those Euphoria-inspired neon liners to good use this Halloween before the fad ends. 

Barely-there mermaid look

credit Instagram @peter_garcia88

This one is for that last minute invite to a Halloween party. If you didn’t have anything planned and need to whip up a costume at the very last minute, we got you covered. Do your everyday look, and brush a bit of pink or blue shadow over fishnet stockings for subtle scales. Stop by a craft store on your way to the party and glue a few pearls over your temples and forehead. Now you’re ready to go trick-or-treating!

The princess of the ocean

credit Instagram @moninamua

I mean… wow. Why no go all out like makeup artist influencer @moninamua? Let that creativity run wild, it’s Halloween! Visit your local craft store and bag some sequins, paper shells, and pearls to recreate this look. 

Simple and Classic

credit Instagram @lonyeamaiden

For a more subtle and classic take on the sea-creature, get yourself a pair of seashells to cover your boobage and keep the hair and makeup natural and beachy. Add a metallic eyeshadow and matching lip for a little bit of a pop —it’s Halloween after all! Don’t keep it too boring, girl.

The artsy take 

credit Instagram @glowbykt

This is for the gals that want a less literal costume. Create a wave-inspired effect across your face and add touches of glitter to evoque a sense of bubbly rippled-water.

Extra Extra 

Credit Instagram @Romeoislove

If “Go hard or go home” are words you live by, then this level of commitment to a theme is for you. Make a statement with pearls, a whole crown, a wig, blue body paint and purple lips. Then proceed to cash that ‘Best costume of the night’ prize, you earned it. 

Dead mermaid bc Halloween, duh!

credit Instagram @simply.mandiej

The occasion calls for a costume, but also for scary vibes —it is all hallows’ eve after all! So if you’re looking for a dead-something or another, add some fale blood and under-eye bags to your mermaid look, et voila! You’re welcome. 

The Swoosh Gets The Latino Treatment: Nike Launches Limited-Edition ‘Día De Muertos’ Collection Complete With Calaveras And Papel Picado Designs

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The Swoosh Gets The Latino Treatment: Nike Launches Limited-Edition ‘Día De Muertos’ Collection Complete With Calaveras And Papel Picado Designs

Forget Halloween. Each year more and more brands are tapping into the Mexican celebration of the dead, Día de Los Muertos, to target Latinos with their calavera-inspired designs. The Mexican holiday surrounds death, but it’s a time to celebrate life with loved ones, and each year it’s gaining more and more traction in the U.S. 

Celebrated in the U.S. from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, the holiday tradition calls for the creation of altars to deceased loved ones, decorated with photos, meaningful objects, and their favorite foods said to attract their souls. Petals of bright yellow-orange cempasúchil flowers are used to guide them from the cemetery, according to tradition. This year Nike took up the opportunity to celebrate, with a brand new collection dropping later this month, inspired by “traditional Mexican skeleton graphics.” This isn’t the first time the brand celebrates the Mexican holiday though, a few years back the Swoosh brand released another pair of Cortez’s to pay tribute to the dead on Día de Muertos. 

This latest ‘Día de Muertos’ collection is scheduled to release on Nike.com and at select Nike retailers on Oct. 30.

credit Twitter @Solecollector

This latest assortment will include the Air Force 1 Low, the Cortez, and the Air Max 95 which are all getting dressed up for the occasion. Each pair will reference the holiday ever-so-slightly with traditional Mexican skeleton graphics featured throughout the design on the upper parts of the shoe as well as on the insoles.  

The Cortez turns black and orange for Day of The Dead 

Credit Twitter @sneaker_arian

The Cortez, is a Nike style Mexican-Americans love to wear, and the sports company picked the iconic design to be part of the Day of the Dead collection. It’s not the first time the Swoosh gets the Mexican-inspired treatment though. As we mentioned earlier, back in 2015 a ‘Day of The Dead’ Nike Cortez was released in honor of the holiday, and the design was a lot more thematic than this year’s minimalist iteration.

Featuring a ‘papel picado’-inspired design on the inside, the stitching of the iconic Swoosh on the upper side of the shoe as well as on the soles, turns bright orange, reminiscent of cempasúchil and candle-lit ofrendas. The shoe is dressed in a nylon and suede floral print and has distinct embroidery on the heel.

The Day of The Dead Air Force 1s Glow in The Dark With Papel Picado-Inspired designs.

credit Twitter @unrtd

The iconic performance shoes were re-imagined to celebrate the Mexican holiday in the most subtle way. The classic silhouette has an all-white upper body, contrasted by piping in yellow, green, blue, pink and black, and also sports a black heel tab and stitching across the midsole. The best part though is that once the shoe’s in the dark, it reveals a glow-in-the-dark skull papel picado-inspired pattern that is fully reflective throughout the entire upper. It’s to die for!

The Nike Air Max 95 was reimagined for the occasion in muted colors and subtle touches of huichol-style graphics.

credit Twitter @RyoRyo719

Joining the AF1s and the Cortez, the Nike Air Max 95 will also be a part of the 2019 Day of The Dead Collection. The festive colorway of the Air Max 95 takes on a white mesh upper with the signature layered side panels taking on a textured/crackled leather appearance. The leather side panels are emblazoned with muted ‘Huichol’ or papel picado-inspired graphics to go along with the Mexican theme. The limited-edition shoe also features black leather mudguards, black Swoosh branding, speckled laces, and a black midsole that adds to the look, along with teal detailing on the skull graphic insoles, papel picado-style tongue branding, and translucent outsole.

There are 57 million Hispanics in the U.S. only, and they represent 18% of the country’s spending power— no wonder brands like Nike want to tap into Latino traditions.

credit Twitter @thesolesupplier

Over the past few years, companies and retailers have made it easier to get into the spirit of the holiday, offering themed apparel, home decor and containers in which to tote goodies. With 57 million Hispanics in the U.S. alone, this demographic represents almost 18 percent of the country’s population and significant spending power, according to Nielsen. In fact, the data analytics company expects its buying power to grow from $1.4 trillion in 2016 to $1.8 trillion by 2021. And that dollar strength isn’t lost on retailers.

‘Dia De Los Muertos’ celebrations run from  November 1st through November 2, and the Nike Air Force 1 will drop at retailers like Sneakersnstuff and nike.com on October 15. Priced at $100 USD, the festive sneakers are the ultimate day-to-day shoe to add to your rotation. The rest of this latest Nike Día de Muertos collection is scheduled to release on Nike.com and at select Nike retailers on Oct. 30.