BEACHY KEEN: Arguably fashion’s most adroit outdoor showman, Simon Porte Jacquemus will head to a special location near the seaside in Arles, France, for a runway display on June 27.The collection, titled “Le Papier,” will be available for purchase immediately after the show on the Jacquemus e-store, according to the house.
Clothes and accessories for men and women will be paraded, and some items from his upcoming collaboration with Nike will be unveiled there.
Jacquemus deems his collections season-less, but the delivery corresponds roughly with the fall 2022 fashion season.
The designer prefers to stage fashion shows outside the traditional fashion calendar, and in unexpected natural settings such as a crop of wheat, a rolling field of lavender or a gobsmacking tropical beach.
His last collection, dubbed “Le Splash,” saw barefoot models treading a blue boardwalk winding across the idyllic beach of Moli’i Garden in Hawaii.
Known for his sunny designs, Provençal aesthetic and deft grasp of social media, Jacquemus has been teasing his upcoming collaboration with Nike for his 4.6 million followers on Instagram, where the Arles show will be streamed live.
Prepping for the next stage of growth for his 13-year-old brand, Jacquemus recently brought on Paco Rabanne executive Bastien Daguzan as chief executive officer.
The company employs around 100 people at its headquarters in Paris and logistics center in Cavaillon in the South of France. — MILES SOCHA
SWEENEY ON THE ROAD: Sydney Sweeney appears in Tory Burch’s new digital advertising campaign for the brand’s signature Miller sandals.
As reported, the 24-year-old actress was tapped in April as Burch’s ambassador for the brand’s handbags and shoes.
In the new campaign entitled “Show Me Your Millers,” Sweeney wears the brand’s cult-favorite Miller sandals. First designed in the early Aughts, the Miller sandals are shown on Sweeney as she hits the road in a baby-blue vintage convertible. The actor and producer packed the trunk (and her T Monogram tool belt), with Millers in every style, from the original sandal in topstitched vachetta leather ($228) to the new Miller Soft with a cushioned sole ($248). While Sweeney changes the tire, she slips into new outfits and Miller sandals.
Sydney Sweeney in Tory Burch’s campaign.
Courtesy of Tory Burch
Sweeney is shown wearing the Millers — in classic black and ivory, clementine, cherry and metallic gold — with cut-off shorts, bra tops and matching knit sets. The campaign, which breaks Thursday, will appear globally on Burch’s owned channels (website, email and social), and the video will run in select Tory Burch store windows.
The campaign was directed by Charlotte Wales and styled by Mel Ottenberg. It was filmed in the deserts of Los Angeles and features the 1982 Missing Persons song, “Walking in L.A.”
“The Millers are our most loved summer sandals, and I was thrilled to work on this free-spired video with Sydney. The campaign highlights all of the reasons people live in their Millers: They’re timeless, super comfortable and make a bold statement,” said Tory Burch, executive chairman and chief creative officer of Tory Burch LLC.
Sydney Sweeney wears the Miller sandals in Tory Burch’s campaign.
Courtesy of Tory Burch
The “Euphoria” actress previously appeared in Burch’s holiday campaign for its Good Luck trainer collection, which was created with Dazed Media, as reported.
Sweeney appeared in the recent season of “Euphoria,” and got her start in shows like “The Handmaid’s Tale” and “Sharp Objects.” She also had a role in last year’s HBO show, “The White Lotus.”
In April, Sweeney was also tapped by skin care brand Laneige for its first U.S. celebrity partnership. In May, Sweeney appeared in Miu Miu’s first ad campaign dedicated to a statement bag, the Miu Wander. Last year she was the face of Guess, appearing in an ad campaign that paid homage to the late Anna Nicole Smith. — LISA LOCKWOOD
A WEAVE IN TIME: For its sixth project at Milan’s Salone del Mobile, Loewe and creative director Jonathan Anderson will continue to delve into craft, focusing this time on traditional weaving techniques.
Highlighted throughout “Weave, Restore, Renew” is the idea that repairing is central to being sustainable while bringing uniqueness and extra character, an approach that “sits right at the crossing of respect for the environment and respect for the product,” according to Anderson.
“Across this whole project, we celebrate the regenerative power of handwork. I am proud we have created a series of items that rewire the relation with time, wear and tear, delivering a message of evolution and transformation which is progressive and uplifting,” he continued.
Visitors to the international furniture and interior design trade show will be able to see leather, straw and paper turned into striking functional items.
The ancient Coroza technique is used for hats, baskets and raincoats, here by artisan Alvaro Leiro.
Yago Castromil/Courtesy of Loewe
For “Repaired in Spain,” the Spanish fashion house tasked artisans Idoia Cuesta, Belén Martínez, Santiago Besteiro, Juan Manuel Marcilla with breathing new life into 240 distressed baskets by mending them with leather strips.
Elsewhere, straw was the main material of the “Coroza” series of bags and baskets with distinctive fringing that nods to the ancestral technique of that name from the northwestern Spanish region of Galicia traditionally used to make raincoats, hats and baskets from pliable natural fibers.
In addition to these, 2019 Loewe Foundation Craft Prize finalist Young Soon Lee used recycled newspapers woven using the traditional Korean technique called Jiseung for a series of totes.
Shoppers in Milan will have first dibs on a selection of repaired baskets and small accessories starting Monday at the Loewe flagship on Via Monte Napoleone, with some also available on the brand’s e-commerce, before they become available in other cities including Tokyo, Seoul, New York and Paris.
The Salone del Mobile, which takes place from Tuesday to June 12 at the Fiera Milano exhibition center on the city’s outskirts, is celebrating this year its 60th edition and will be focusing on sustainability, a hot topic not only in fashion but also in design, its president Maria Porro told WWD earlier this year. — LILY TEMPLETON
MOLLY’S MOMENT: Christie’s will highlight works by fashion designer Molly Goddard in the upcoming “The Art of Literature Exhibition.”
Running from Monday to June 15, the exhibition at Christie’s King Street will showcase a selection of artworks inspired by literature through the ages, from categories including 19th-, 20th- and 21st-century art, Islamic art, books and manuscripts, Old Masters and decorative arts. They will be presented alongside looks from Goddard’s fall 2019 collection, which was inspired by Thomas Hardy’s novel “Tess of the d’Urbervilles.”
Runway at Molly Goddard’s fall 2022 show on Feb. 19, 2022, in London.
Giovanni Giannoni for WWD
The British fashion designer said these tulle looks were about being frivolous and fabulous but also strong, tough and resilient — not just surviving but thriving.
“Hardy paints an incredible picture of the English landscape and seasons in ‘Tess of the d’Urbervilles.’ The collection was definitely about being wrapped up against the weather physically and metaphorically. The pieces included in the exhibition are a very good representation of what we do best, by which I mean taking simple designs and turning them into something totally different, using techniques like shirring and hand-smocking, or by scaling them up and using unexpected fabrics,” she said.
Annabelle Scholar, co-curator of the exhibition, said: “In this cross-category exhibition spanning thee Millennia, we’re looking at how the written word has inspired artists and creatives to make works of art or bring new meaning to existing works of art. We are thrilled to include these wondrous creations by Molly, pieces which were inspired by a work of literature and ushered in a new era of British fashion.” — TIANWEI ZHANG
TOP OF THE CROP: Christelle Kocher is adding another feather to her substantial cap — guest creative director of the Tranoï trade show’s September edition.
“Tranoï and Koché hold a common, deep-seated vision and commitment to fashion. We’re united by our values of openness in fashion and our dedication to promoting young designers from around the world,” said the trade show’s chief executive officer Boris Provost in a statement revealing her participation.
Christelle Kocher and Boris Provost
Courtesy of Koché
In addition to picking the 130 labels that will be present at its Palais Brongniart location for the spring 2023 edition running from Sept. 29 to Oct. 2, Kocher will choose a selection of her favorites shown in a dedicated space. A live masterclass is slated on Sept. 29, where she will explore the new challenges of fashion.
“I think everyone should get a chance in fashion, no matter what their background is. Tranoï’s work helping young designers and independent labels can give them the opportunity to become truly worldwide brands,” stated the designer, who is founder and creative director of Koché as well as artistic director of the Chanel-owned feather and flower-maker Lemarié. She was also tasked with reviving French shoemaker Charles Jourdan earlier this year.
Kocher explained that “throwing open fashion’s doors and windows” had been the goal at Koché, which held its first shows as happenings in public spaces like the Chatelet-Les Halles transport hub or a passage rife with local shops in a popular neighborhood.
This is the first time that Tranoï has invited a designer to be its creative director since it was launched in 1991 as a showcase for independent contemporary labels and emerging designers with a focus on craftsmanship and strong identity.
For the trade show, this is a further step in their aim to promote these newer signatures from around the world, continued Provost. It was among the first to return to a physical format in June 2021, with a showcase dedicated to emerging designers as part of a now-ongoing partnership with the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode.
Tranoï’s next event is set for June 23 to 26 during the upcoming men’s fashion week, where it will showcase around 40 menswear labels. — L.T.
Pink seemed to be a common theme on the red carpet of the 2022 Met Gala.In celebrating American designers and fashion as the second of the two-part examination by the Costume Institute, many celebrities opted for outfits highlighting accents of pink. Whether they wanted to emphasize the feminine aspect of its theme “Gilded Glamour” or simply because they wanted to wear pink, it seemed many stars shared the same idea.
Valentino’s creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli arrived with his entourage of celebrities wearing designs inspired by his “Pink PP” collection, which was showcased in his fall 2022 show in Milan this spring. Nicola Peltz Beckham, who recently tied the knot with Brooklyn Peltz Beckham last month, arrived in a draped pink dress with a plunging neckline while her husband wore a baby pink suit. Piccioli also designed Peltz Beckham’s wedding dress.
Glenn Close and Sebastian Stan also rocked the designer’s now-signature hot pink, wearing the bright hue from head-to-toe. Close wore a button-down and matching pants under an embroidered cape jacket by Valentino, while Stan wore a button-down paired with baggy pants and matching pink sneakers and an oversized pink Valentino jacket.
Additionally, “You” actress Jenna Ortega also sported a bright pink look by Valentino. She wore an embroidered tunic shirt with flower applications over a pair of hot pink tights and satin pink heels.
Prabal Gurung was another designer with a slew of pink in his posse of stars, including Kiki Layne, Ashley Park and newcomer Denée Benton, best known for her role in the HBO Max series “The Gilded Age.”
Layne wore a pink gown with button detailing and flower-like ruffles, pairing the dress with matching white gloves with the same ruffle details. Park wore a hot pink corset with off-the-shoulder bow sleeves and a black-and-white ostrich feather skirt featuring a train. Benton wore a draped, bustle-inspired look with a red column gown and pink ruffles on the waist, paired with white gloves up to her elbow and intricate necklaces.
Tessa Thompson channeled her inner ballerina in a custom blush pink corset gown by Carolina Herrera that featured gathered tulle and a 200-meter train. The dress was designed by the brand’s creative director Wes Gordon, who walked alongside Thompson on the red carpet.
Other celebrities who wore pink outfits at the 2022 Met Gala include Molly Sims in Monique Lhuilllier, Sza in Vivienne Westwood, Wendi Murdoch in Giambattista Valli, Adwoa Aboah in Tory Burch, Nicola Coughlan in Richard Quinn and Diane von Furstenberg.
This year’s Met Gala focused on the theme, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” which is a celebration of American fashion. This year’s dress code was “Gilded Glamour,” which takes inspiration from The Gilded Age in New York during the time period between 1870 and 1890.
The “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition will open to the public on May 7. The first part of the exhibition, “In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” remains open at the Costume Institute. Both will close in September.
Click through the gallery above to see the pink outfits celebrities wore at the 2022 Met Gala.
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A Closer Look at Tessa Thompson’s Carolina Herrera Dress at the 2022 Met Gala
Maria Alia. Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
Invigorated by nostalgia while looking ahead, Tory Burch marked the opening of its new store with an SS22 runway show honoring 20th century sportswear designer Claire McCardell. Strategically located in the heart of Manhattan on Mercer Street, this new boutique symbolizes the American fashion designer’s love for the bustling city. In 2004, she moved to SoHo after college and opened her first boutique not too far from the same street.
Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
“I could not be more excited about our Mercer Street store,” says Burch. “It is an evolution of our retail aesthetic, and I have loved the creative process, combining a modern space with signature decorative elements and details that are personal to me. The downtown location feels like a homecoming, just a five-minute walk from where we opened our first boutique on Elizabeth Street.”
Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
Besides the label’s signature clothing, shoes, and handbags, the boutique’s diverse offerings include home goods, new 151 Mercer handbags, as well as limited-edition Lee Radziwill Double Bags, exclusive to this location. They are displayed within elements recalling Burch’s childhood memories, such as the baskets suspended from the ceilings which represent the ones in her Pennsylvanian home growing up.
Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
For other highlights of the store, Burch enlisted female artists, including Miranda Brooks, who created an outdoor garden space behind the store, and a chandelier suspended in the second-floor shoe salon by sculptor Francesca DiMattio. The brand’s codes – oak, rattan, and brass – have also been reimagined in different finishes throughout the boutique, while the underside of the staircase has been lined with a hand-hammered metalwork Tree of Life to symbolize renewal and growth.
Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
One of the store’s more stylish visitors, Brooklyn-based Palestinian model Maria Alia recently toured the location, dressed in key pieces from the brand’s FW21 collection. Inspired by the classic New York neighborhoods and the city’s attitude, pieces feature prints that pay tribute to its various cultures in earthy neutral shades with pops of color like red and purple. The collection is created with the foundations of a seasonless wardrobe, with pieces that can be dressed up or down, and styled modestly as shown by Alia, regardless of the time they’re worn in.
Photo: Morgan Maher for Tory Burch
Read Next: 25 Uplifting Spring 2022 Looks from New York Fashion Week
When it comes to mood-boosting fashion, nothing quite gives you ‘get-up-and-go’ quite like a statement print. This summer there’s plenty to choose from, with retro florals, day-glo stripes, patchwork and paisley print all showing up in designers’ collections. Keep it simple and stick to one print or go mix and match prints, colors and textures – creativity (and confidence) is key.
Bold stripes are a summer staple (especially in swimwear) and Etro’s signature paisley print is a wardrobe classic – find it in everything from chic flats to maxi dresses and louche silk pants. The checkerboard trend is still going strong – but with a twist. Swap classic monochrome for colorful squares (Paloma Wool) for an instant twist on the trend. A kaftan is a holiday essential and Tory Burch has one of the best of the season in punchy floral print.
One SS21 collection in particular encapsulated our year-long desire for a vacation: Versace. Vibrant oceanic and tropical digi prints on cocktail dresses and standout blazers were an instant hit and are a must for any resort wardrobe.
We’ve rounded up eight prints – from florals to stripes and spots – to lift your summer spirits…
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Will big-name U.S. designers stage live fashion shows in September?
The Council of Fashion Designers of America said this week that it’s planning a mix of live and digital events for New York Fashion Week, which will run Sept. 8 through 12.
The big question is whether fashion designers are seriously considering hosting live fashion shows, and what that will entail, in terms of health and safety guidelines, room capacity and guest restrictions, socially distant seating, vaccine requirements and temperature checks, and protections for models, makeup artists’ and hairstylists’ safety. Then there’s the issue of whether international models can even enter the U.S. to walk the runways.
“With current signs of progress in the pace of vaccinations and the strategic, gradual reopening and tangible reawakening of New York City, we look forward to a strong fashion season that celebrates the best of American fashion in both physical and digital presentation format,” said Steven Kolb, chief executive officer of the CFDA.
WWD conducted a spot-check of designers asking them what their plans were for September, whether they have made up their minds or whether it was too soon to make a decision, considering how unpredictable the situation may be dependent on the COVID-19 vaccine rollout and whether the U.S. will have reached herd immunity.
Tom Ford, who is chairman of the CFDA, is planning for an in-person show during New York Fashion Week. While everything is still COVID-19 dependent, and the brand’s show will adhere to CDC and government guidelines, Tom Ford does plan to return to an in-person show, a spokeswoman said.
A spokeswoman for Tory Burch said the brand is also considering a live event during September’s fashion week. It’s all a work in progress with safety protocol top of mind.
Gabriela Hearst, as well, is planning a live show in New York at this time. Pyer Moss, Markarian and Jonathan Simkhai will each be holding live shows.
Ralph Lauren said it isn’t set to reveal its fall plans yet, while a spokesman for Marc Jacobs said he had nothing to share on Jacobs’ next collection presentation plans. Tommy Hilfiger is not going back on the calendar for New York Fashion Week.
”We are always looking ahead. We will announce our plans in the near future. We promise to be back soon with breakthrough, purpose and disruption,” said Tommy Hilfiger.
According to Vera Wang, “It’s too soon to say and it might need to be more of a game-time decision as we are going to have to monitor and follow health guidelines and prioritize the safety of our teams and the community.”
Mark Badgley and James Mischka, codesigners and founders of Badgley Mischka, like the idea of returning to a live show, but not until February. “Our feeling is that September is too soon but we would like to return to the runway in February in some way, shape or form,” they said via email.
Prabal Gurung is definitely planning to participate in New York Fashion Week, but hasn’t decided on the format. A spokeswoman for Veronica Beard said they haven’t confirmed the exact format, “but it will not be a live show.” A spokeswoman for Proenza Schouler said they haven’t confirmed their presentation method for their collection in September yet.
Companies such as Oscar de la Renta and Michael Kors said this week they haven’t formulated their plans yet for September’s show week that features the spring 2022 collections.
In fact, Kors is getting ready to virtually show his fall 2021 40th anniversary collection on April 20 at 9 a.m., which benefits the Actors Fund.
Several designers such as Anna Sui, Alice + Olivia and Carolina Herrera were unreachable for comment on their September plans.
As reported last September, the CFDA’s Ford renamed the show schedule “American Collections Calendar” to reflect that a growing number of American designers are showing later in the season and sometimes outside of New York, whether that be in Europe, Asia or other key markets.
David Bonnouvrier, cofounder of DNA Models, brought up the fact that many models won’t be able to enter the U.S. to walk in a live runway show.
Last season, Jason Wu was among a handful of designers to stage a live fashion show and actually held live fashion shows in both September 2020 (at Spring Studios’ rooftop) and February 2021.
In February, Wu created Mr. Wu’s General Store at 666 Broadway in New York to showcase his fall 2021 contemporary fashion collection for a limited, socially distant audience. The store featured thousands of items and nearly 50 types of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables. The food for the set was provided by The Chefs’ Warehouse and after the show, Wu donated it all to City Harvest to help feed those in need.
Backstage at Jason Wu, fall 2021.
Asked whether he plans to go live again in September, a spokeswoman for Wu said they are planning something for September but the format hasn’t been decided yet.
When asked what her plans were for September, Rebecca Minkoff, who continued to stage live “buy now, wear now” shows during the pandemic, said, “Yes, 100 percent doing a live show.”
Rebecca Minkoff’s live fashion show last September.
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Beyond the more expected limited-run T-shirts and somewhat self-serving social media campaigns, two leading companies are using International Women’s Day to springboard yearlong ventures to strengthen women-owned businesses.
In honor of IWD and Women’s History Month, H&M USA has started a 12-month partnership with Buy From a Black Woman, a nonprofit that connects more than 500 Black women-owned businesses nationwide. Meanwhile, Tory Burch has unveiled the “Empowered Women” campaign with Upworthy, a platform that celebrates women who are creating an impact in their communities.
Although Tory Burch and H&M USA have embarked on yearlong initiatives, numerous other companies are also championing IWD and WHM. Kate Hudson and Fabletics, for example, have partnered with Girl Up, a United Nations Foundation initiative to encourage girls’ leadership and gender equality around the world. Gap has released limited-edition T-shirts with messages of empowerment and is donating $25,000 to the nonprofit Girls Inc. Banana Republic is donating to the International Center for Research on Women. Through the end of the month, the retailer will donate $20 for each “Notorious Necklace” sold to the ICRW up to $250,000. And UGG is continuing its partnership with HerProject and #PoweredByHer campaign by recognizing such individuals as Meena Harris. Through March 14, the company will donate $25 per pair of the campaign’s featured style with a minimum guaranteed donation.
After a year where women have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, Burch is using her global platform to share inspirational stories and encourage others to find a way to make a difference. The New York-based company has launched an Empowering Women section on its site. The international campaign was unveiled by showcasing the work of five women. Throughout the year, the campaign will celebrate one woman every month, who will also receive a $5,000 donation from the Tory Burch Foundation to give to the nonprofit of her choice.
In a video unveiling the program, Burch said she looked forward to hearing about “the women in your lives, who are changing the world.”
Tory Burch Courtesy of Tory Burch
“Black Gals Livin’” podcast cofounder Victoria Sanusi, The Spread the Joy Foundation and Open the Joy founder Shalini Samtani, The Black Fairy Godmother founder Simone Gordon, Equity Generations Lawyers’ 18-year-old paralegal Varsha Yajman and Global Gateway Logistics and Gateway for Good creator Caitlin Murphy are the five women being recognized by Burch.
Burch said in a statement that she hopes “the resilience and creativity of these women and the amazing ways they have found to have real impact, will inspire and energize others as much as they have me.”
Upworthy vice president Lucia Knell noted in a statement that the company celebrates “barrier breaking stories especially from women, the LGBTQIA-plus community and BIPOC.”
Meanwhile, H&M USA is striving to strengthen Black women-owned businesses. Black women have been starting their own businesses at an increasing rate, but annual sales for Black women business owners are five times smaller than women-owned businesses in general.
The alliance will include sponsorships and activities. For a kickoff, H&M USA has introduced Buy From a Black Woman to the 16 million customers who are members of H&M’s loyalty program. During its annual “Member Days” activation, which started Friday and ran through Sunday, a portion of sales was donated to the nonprofit. This summer the retailer will sponsor the group’s Black Women Inspire Tour, using H&M’s channels to highlight Black women-owned businesses. This fall H&M USA will sponsor the organization’s Black Woman Business Accelerator program. A 10-week course, the training features online curriculum led by authorities who offer insights about expansion and providing an opportunity for funding access. In addition, internally H&M USA will sponsor eligible colleagues who wish to join the Buy From a Black Woman online directory and network. There are also plans to showcase the nonprofit’s businesses to the retailer’s employees throughout the year.
In an interview Friday, Buy From a Black Woman founder Nikki Porcher said the ultimate goal is to encourage consumers to buy from Black women, but the aim also involves being a true example of what allyship looks like, as opposed to being a catch phrase, trend or something that is hot for the season. She started a blog five years ago after attending a makers’ event, where she was the only Black woman. Early on as part of her Buy From a Black Woman challenge, she would buy a product from a Black woman-owned business and blog about it. After people found out about the blog and shared it on social media, others contacted Porcher to ask if she would plug their products (she explained no, that she had to buy it) and some offered to send money to help support her work. With a background in nonprofits, her own nonprofit developed into a community, directory and educational resources.
Porcher said, “Last summer we saw so many businesses and organizations say, ‘Hey, we’re going to amplify Black voices. We’re going to do our part, use our resources.’ Then it just faded away after August.”
After discussing with H&M how they could have the most effective impact, both parties agreed that using the retailer’s tools and resources will lead to Black women-owned businesses being amplified, supported and purchased from. Following coronavirus safety precautions, this summer’s tour will include stops in major cities to host pop-ups, offer information and improve awareness.
While smaller-scale initiatives have been done at other corporations through monetary donations to different organizations, the H&M USA model is a new one, she said. “This is where a known name is going to bring in these small Black women businesses and amplify that. This is probably going to set the precedent for a lot of other businesses to partner with organizations on this scale,” Porcher said. “This is going to be game changing, marketing changing, business changing, partnership changing — a lot of changing.”
More than 70 percent of the leaders at H&M are women, including global chief executive officer Helena Helmersson, according to Carlos Duarte, president of H&M Region America’s. Helmersson took on that role — a first for the company — last year.
Fashion has turned its spotlight on politics, with designers harnessing their power to call attention to social issues.
Chanel Spring/Summer fashion show in Paris.
The time to remain apolitical or risk losing valued customers is here – and designers around the world are shouting loudly, supporting human rights, and picking political sides. Many brands want to be on what they perceive as the right side of history when it comes to politics. In the run-up to the recent US presidential election, 19 designers – including Vera Wang, Joseph Altuzarra, and Tory Burch – launched the collaborative Believe in Better collection in support of presidential candidate Joe Biden.
Designer Tory Burch wears her Believe in Better, T-shirt. Photo: Supplied
Others have been vocal about social issues such as systemic racism. When the American football player Colin Kaepernick knelt during the US national anthem at the start of his NFL games in 2016, in protest against police brutality and racial inequality, the country erupted into furious debate.
In 2018, Nike followed with an advertising campaign featuring Kaepernick with the text, “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.” In response, some Nike fans took to social media with videos of them burning their once-beloved kicks, and the hashtag #BoycottNike began to trend. The brand had transitioned from being not just something to wear, but a way of pledging political allegiance. Others stayed on the sidelines, waiting to see if Nike would come out on top financially. Despite an initial dip in its share price after the campaign was launched, Nike sales increased by more than 30% the following year.
Celebrities like Jennifer Aniston have been encouraging Americans to vote in the recent election.
Protests against long-simmering racial inequality in the US seems to have lit a fuse with brands, precipitated by the killing of George Floyd by police in Minneapolis in May this year. “Following the death of George Floyd, we saw that the public is not afraid to voice their intolerance toward racism and that set in motion the movements we’ve seen recently to challenge discrimination in all its forms,” says Sanjay Bhandari, chair of Kick It Out, a UK-based organization that fights discrimination in English football. “Brands have been aligning themselves with well-known figures and influencers to show support for the likes of Black Lives Matter, as a way of pledging their solidarity and commitment against racism.”
Celebrities like Vogue US Cover Star Lizzo, have been encouraging Americans to vote in the recent election.
Support through fashion is apparent in other areas of inequality, too. In 2017, after the rise of the #MeToo movement, designers around the world projected feminism and female empowerment to reflect the sentiment of the era. Actresses wore all-black at the 2018 Golden Globes Awards, Egyptian designer Rana Yousry showcased her Black Rose line at Arab fashion week that same year displaying themes of feminism, strength, and power, and Saudi designer Arwa Al Banawi dressed the Saudi women’s soccer team for the 2019 Global Goals World Cup in Copenhagen.
“Fashion reflects what’s ‘now.’ For it to have power and feel right, it has to speak to what is going on more broadly,” says Dr Rosie Findlay, course leader in fashion cultures at London College of Fashion. But sometimes, brand’s signatures are adopted by less-than-desirable demographics.
In the 90s, the signature Burberry check was associated with football hooligans in Europe, and more recently, a US far-right group appropriated a black and yellow polo shirt by Fred Perry. It’s not the first time the British brand has been commandeered by the far-right – it was a favorite of skinheads in the 60s and 70s, too. Fred Perry quickly withdrew the polo shirt from sale and released a statement disavowing its use by far-right groups, saying, “They have absolutely nothing to do with us, and we are working with our lawyers to pursue any unlawful use of our brand.”
“Some business decisions seem very driven by what is moral and ethical,” says Findlay, citing the example of French brand Maison Cléo. “It is constantly advocating for slow fashion and educating its followers about the unsustainability of the fast-fashion system.” Fashion has always been one way of uniting people, but, Bhandari says, “we need to see more from some brands in terms of their commitment.” He continues, “We also need to see them making a positive contribution to society and their local communities.” In terms of racial inequalities, brands need to be “looking inside their organizations and developing long-term plans for social inclusion and racial equality so that they foster a more inclusive environment and attract a more diverse workforce,” Bhandari says. In an age of such political extremes, it seems fashion, which moves and evolves with the times, must speak louder and be more politically brazen than ever.
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Originally published in the November 2020 issue of Vogue Arabia.