fashion x race

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fashion x race

Postby schiaparelli » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:30 pm

it is 2016 AND WE ARE GOING TO TALK ABOUT THE EMBARRASSING LACK OF RACIAL REPRESENTATION AND DIVERSITY IN FASHION

but also CELEBRATE AND ENJOY the designers, photographers, magazines, et cetera that are Doing It Right

share news, editorials, opinion articles
examples of excellent racial representation (images welcome!)
examples of shoddy racial representation
bring all your good vibes and (articulately) angry rants
be caring towards your fashion friends of all racial and ethnic identities!!!

i wanna start off this thread with some ground rules

  • if you think fashion does not need to represent racial diversity you are gonna have a hard time here. i will call you a racist and i will back it up. it's 2016 this shit is pretty non-negotiable at this point t b h
  • if you think fashion designers shouldn't be limited by perceptions of being racist you are gonna have a hard time here. i will explain why racial representation matters and i will think less of you for not demanding that fashion and its contributors engage with a larger social context

but yeah, this thread can be pretty casual and we can also just share excellent editorial images of models of color



Critics Are Calling a Fashion Show With Only White Models ‘Revolutionary’

so vachement has been the fashion world's beloved post–martin margiela prodigy for a while, but i was really started and pleased to find this article over at the cut, written by véronique hyland:

Amid praise for designer Demna Gvasalia's latest take on streetwear and the quirky street casting of the show, there were few detractors drawing attention to the lack of diversity.

Plenty of critics loved it, with Business of Fashion calling its review "The Revolution Will Be Branded 'vachement,'" while Vogue raved, "vachement means business." But Twitter had some reactions that were far less positive.

Central Saint Martins student Priyesh Patel also brought up the casting on a SHOWStudio panel about the collection. "It's all white people ... It's street casting, so I think it should be a lot easier for them to cast diverse models," he pointed out.


some key quotes from the SHOWStudio panel which i deeply enjoyed—it was critical and demanding of vachement in a way that few other fashion critics seem to be doing, where the students discussed the perceived hypocrisy of vachement pricing, the It Status of nearly all their pieces, and how vachement engages with/co-opts youth fashion. but specific to the issue of race, here are some quotes

[priyesh patel]
It's kind of sad because [vachement] pushes this whole we're opting out of the system, and we're not doing what everyone else does, but they're doing exactly that. Obviously their casting is very different, but it's kind of sad that there's no color on that catwalk.

[grey sweater woman forgot her name sorry ; n ; ]
It looks like they went to a model agency, to be honest. It doesn't look like a street casting. If you didn't know that, if you didn't read up on the brand, you would think it was a model agency.

[lou stoppard]
I find it strange that people would be like "oh, it's fine because that's just their reality", because who wants to admit that their reality is only spending time with white people? It does feel a bit strange.


BUT THAT'S NOT ALL

the balenciaga show (balenciaga's CD is demna gvasalia, who also leads the vachement creative team) was also all-white. obviously it's tremendously disappointing and also eyebrow-raising that two shows both headed by the same dude (who may or may not have collaborated with the same stylists/casting directors/et cetera) don't have a single model of color???

vogue anonymous / @frontrowmeme posted on twitter that comments on balenciaga's instagram complaining about the lack of diversity are also being deleted:

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Re: fashion x race

Postby mrblahblahblacksheep » Sun Mar 06, 2016 1:53 pm

So what designers currently do use lots of diversity in shows?
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Re: fashion x race

Postby earthonator » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:18 pm

does anyone know the racial distribution of models in the modeling industry? like the entire industry.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby wolflarsen » Sun Mar 06, 2016 2:55 pm

I do feel kind of weird about that Rick Owens 2014 show that while, acknowledging race, appeared a bit too tribal/primitive/"angry black woman." Especially because its all the brainchild of a very white, artsy man.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby UnwashedMolasses » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:13 pm

To be fair to Rick Owens that show was either a direct reference or at least inspired by step teams and step performances. Within that area of performance exaggerated aggressive faces - literally referred to as "stank face" - are just part of the medium. Based on the way the show was done it seems as if Owens or at least somebody that advised him on the show is actually familiar with that aspect of black culture and referenced it in a way that to me came off as appreciative rather than exploitative.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby PrimePrime » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:29 pm

Junya Watanabe's runway show for SS16 was pretty intense from a racial standpoint.

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The 100% white casting with the blatent references to traditional tribal clothing and accessories seems to ask questions about appropriation and post-colonialism in fashion. Junya's designs seem to deliberately go past "flintstone" and into mockery.

I've given this show a lot of thought and I can't really make up my mind on it. He seems to be doing all this on purpose to make us all rethink the cultural significance of the clothes we wear--and whether we should wear them at all--but then he benefits from that concept by selling clothes. Money makes art really complicated :/

I'd love to hear more thoughts on this collection and the topic of race relations/appropriation in general.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby jujumaster » Sun Mar 06, 2016 3:36 pm

I would like to see more brown models, everyone loves to talk about the topic of diversity but always forget about the brown models.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby bels » Sun Mar 06, 2016 6:04 pm

Helmut Lang bulletproof vest:

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Very cool item of clothing as long as you aren't a brown man in an airport.

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Maharishi Kurta shirts, very cool items if you're white, totally different if you aren't (still want)
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Re: fashion x race

Postby une_impasse » Sun Mar 06, 2016 8:40 pm

PrimePrime wrote:Junya Watanabe's runway show for SS16 was pretty intense from a racial standpoint.

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The 100% white casting with the blatent references to traditional tribal clothing and accessories seems to ask questions about appropriation and post-colonialism in fashion. Junya's designs seem to deliberately go past "flintstone" and into mockery.

I've given this show a lot of thought and I can't really make up my mind on it. He seems to be doing all this on purpose to make us all rethink the cultural significance of the clothes we wear--and whether we should wear them at all--but then he benefits from that concept by selling clothes. Money makes art really complicated :/

I'd love to hear more thoughts on this collection and the topic of race relations/appropriation in general.


The women's collection was ROUGH.

per Vogue:
Junya Watanabe set his show in the National Museum of Immigration History in Paris, an immense Art Deco place, built to celebrate the cultural benefits of French colonialism, when that sort of thing was thought to accrue to the glory of the republic. On the way in, guests passed a piece of contemporary art which gave some people pause: a wooden boat, filled to heaving point with bundles wrapped in African fabric. It took but a small leap to associate that with another scene at Dismaland, where Banksy's boats filled with miniature models of immigrants floated on a disused Weston-super-Mare holiday pond.

An uncomfortable choice of surroundings, then, for Watanabe to show us a collection themed around African fabric patterns, on a cast of white models whose faces were decorated with pale flesh–color globules, mimicking tribal scarification marks. It was hard to know which way to react. Watanabe is as known for his quiet pacifism and his silent rebellious streak as he is for never giving explanatory quotes. Was it a commentary on fashion's long record of annexing the dress, art, and religious artifacts of "other" peoples? Should he be criticized for doing that? And how does he view that from Tokyo, living in a country whose culture is constantly appropriated by Western fashion (as seen only this week in John Galliano's geisha-themed show)?


COME ON

Perhaps he was trying to make a silent statement, but this show and collection was so egregiously uncomfortable that it probably would've behooved him to be a little clearer. I can't speak for how Japan views race/race relations but this was just so, so bad, especially considering the Comme umbrella rarely if ever cast non-white models. It's not as if black people don't wear Comme, probably the biggest champion I can think of is Michelle Elie! This review also features one of my biggest pet peeves, I absolutely despise when designers/whomever refer to "Africa" as a whole, seemingly unaware of the intense diversity of the continent and aiming for a lazy adjective instead of attributing a country/people, in this case most of the collection seems inspired by the Masai people. (here's looking at you Valentino and your horrible collection and ad campaign!!!)

Further tidbits:
1. Zac Posen was recently criticized for his runway cast featuring TOO MANY black models. (seriously)
2. Donna Karan remains one of the few people to use a non-Euro culture (Haiti) within the realm of respect. Shortly after the earthquake, she based her collection on Haitian culture and employed local artisans to develop fabrics, accessories, and even shoot the campaign. She even stepped down for her own label and is now focusing full time on her Urban Zen collection, which has carried on her work with Haiti.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby trasparenti » Sun Mar 06, 2016 11:06 pm

une_impasse wrote:
PrimePrime wrote:The 100% white casting with the blatent references to traditional tribal clothing and accessories seems to ask questions about appropriation and post-colonialism in fashion. Junya's designs seem to deliberately go past "flintstone" and into mockery.

I've given this show a lot of thought and I can't really make up my mind on it. He seems to be doing all this on purpose to make us all rethink the cultural significance of the clothes we wear--and whether we should wear them at all--but then he benefits from that concept by selling clothes. Money makes art really complicated :/

I'd love to hear more thoughts on this collection and the topic of race relations/appropriation in general.


Perhaps he was trying to make a silent statement, but this show and collection was so egregiously uncomfortable that it probably would've behooved him to be a little clearer. I can't speak for how Japan views race/race relations but this was just so, so bad, especially considering the Comme umbrella rarely if ever cast non-white models. It's not as if black people don't wear Comme, probably the biggest champion I can think of is Michelle Elie! This review also features one of my biggest pet peeves, I absolutely despise when designers/whomever refer to "Africa" as a whole, seemingly unaware of the intense diversity of the continent and aiming for a lazy adjective instead of attributing a country/people, in this case most of the collection seems inspired by the Masai people. (here's looking at you Valentino and your horrible collection and ad campaign!!!)


Firstly, lemme say I agree with the opinions regarding Junya's show. The 'accessories' were in poor taste and the casting was poorly handled. FWIW, I went to a few of the Junya/CDG stores to see the stuff in person and the accessories are not for sale (though a variation of the large neck rings are), which means that they were exclusively created/used for the runway show. I believe he was making a statement on colonialism or purposely trying to make the audience consider the uncredited sources of inspirations for their collections, though I can't say he made his stance clear or particularly emphatically. Junya is not unaware of his casting by any means, last years' collection was inspired directly by the Congolese sapeours and actually cast a few to walk the runway.
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Judging from how fun the sapeour show was, I doubt Junya had any intent to inspire feelings of mockery or insincerity. Rei actually apologized for a CDGH+ collection a decade or so ago that unintentionally recalled elements of the clothes Jews were made to wear during the holocaust (gold star embroidery that looked like the star of david, loose striped clothes that recalled the prison clothes given to prisoners in Aushwitz, and so on). Though the CDG family is provocative, they are sensitive to other cultures, or at least the seem to be. In fact, seeing the collection on the racks, I wasn't reminded of any part of Africa or the native peoples at all; it's all pretty standard Junya - tapered pants, patchwork jackets and shirts, twists on suiting, etc. Thus I believe he sent the models out wearing the accessories so as to make his point clearer (a lot of the clothes seem to be inspired by European standards and also feature typical safari/hunting gear perhaps inspired by colonialists). Now, I don't think this was the best way to handle this, but it certainly does clarify his goal with this collection, perhaps to an uncomfortable extent. For example, look at some of these looks that don't feature the accessories:
Spoiler:
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You can't easily pinpoint his flintstone from these outfits - is it just Junya's normal patchwork stuff? Is he inspired by European dress (again)? Is it inspired by outdoorsmen? I feel like in an effort to really emphasize his point in delivering the collection, Junya thought it was necessary to include the accessories to provide a clear contrast to the clothes.

This was clearly a pretty poor way to deliver the message I believe he was trying to send, but I can't deny that it made his point quite dramatically - too dramatically. I believe Japanese culture may have something to do with Junya's clumsy handling of racial tensions. By and large, Japanese culture doesn't really see cultural appropriation as an issue. None of the Japanese people I've spoken to about this have no idea what I'm talking about. I've explained the concept to Japanese people fluent in English and attempted to break down the idea to Japanese people who only speak Japanese and I get the same reaction: "I don't understand the problem." For better or worse, Japanese culture is based on ideas lifted from other cultures: Chinese is the basis for Japanese Kanji, whereas Katakana utilizes a great deal of English. A lot of Japanese fashion, societal norms, modern architecture, etc. is inspired by other cultures as well. The recently released book Ametora does a great job of explaining how casually the Japanese approach other cultures, and how they quickly stop viewing these foreign elements as foreign - very quickly, the Japanese make these elements their own and begin to view them as such. I'm not saying this merely as a foreigner living in Japan for a few months, I've spoken to people who've lived here for decades, Japanese-born and otherwise on the subject as well as some studying I've done in person, online, and in scholarly texts/essays. Though I'm not an expert, I've discussed this at length with a great deal of Japanese-born people whose opinion I value on the matter. The overarching belief is that the concept of cultural appropriation is pretty unknown to the Japanese and doesn't really exist.

As for this quote:
And how does he view that from Tokyo, living in a country whose culture is constantly appropriated by Western fashion

I can safely say that Junya most likely feels about the same as most Japanese people about Japanese culture being taken by other people: undue pride and excitement. Every Japanese-born person I've spoken to about their culture being taken by other people is flattered and thrilled to imagine people in other countries studying Japanese, appreciating yukata, kimono, and noragi, and observing Japanese history (they mostly don't really care about the popularity of anime/manga). I've talked to men and women in their 50s-80s, adults around the age of 30-40, and younger people. Some of them are really conservative and protective of Japanese values and societal norms, others want to see the system completely revised. They all give some variation of the same answer I mentioned above. I've shown them articles about the MOMA's kimono exhibit, fashion shows, etc. and they love it. The Japanese people I've talked to approach kimono and such the same way an American approaches a tuxedo - it's a form of formal dress reserved for special events. Nowadays more women wear kimono than men (who only wear kimono for very special events like hatsumode), and even then, most Japanese don't own kimono or traditional wear, they rent it when they need it. For most Japanese, Japanese traditional clothes are treasured as important cultural items, but they have no qualms about other cultures wearing them or making their own garment inspired by those clothes.

With this attitude in mind, I think what Junya did on the runway makes more sense. Without an innate sensitivity to the subject of cultural appropriation, he merely attempted to elucidate his point as clearly as possible without realizing just how clumsy and crude it came off as. Does that justify the result? Not by a long shot.

No opinion on the vachement people, I need to read more about it. That being said, I do think it's ridiculous that as the current 'it brand' in fashion, they picked a single (white) face to represent their collection. Same thing for the Balenciaga collection.
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Re: fashion x race

Postby germinal » Mon Mar 07, 2016 5:56 am

I want to write a few words in praise of Umit Benan. Online, his work is largely ignored, save by a few yooxhounds on styleforum, since the isolated garments are wholly forgettable in the anonymous white grids of online retail. His presentations, however, I look forward to every time. Season after season, the sets, and more importantly, the casting imbue the clothes with character and narrative that unfortunately his retailers fail to replicate. I want to emphasise this consistency. Many labels (such as Junya above) will cast racially diverse models as a "statement" one season but will revert to default the next, undermining any statement they would hope to make. For Benan the default is racially diverse, and his shows are all the better for it.

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Re: fashion x race

Postby Lorcan » Mon Mar 07, 2016 2:01 pm

I feel like a lack of diversity among designers is important and has a knock-on effect with stuff like casting. Somewhat related- Abasi Rosborough lookbooks / editorials are always beautiful and have some great models:

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Re: fashion x race

Postby jujumaster » Mon Mar 07, 2016 4:59 pm

germinal wrote:I want to write a few words in praise of Umit Benan.


Im glad you have mentioned Umit Benan, he was the first person I thought of when coming into this thread, I was going to make a post but then sort of couldnt be arsed, may as well expand on it now though. His shows have always had great diversity and not for the sake of diversity either, not just the diversity but great casting in general, using unusual models that give a great sense of the style and attitude of that seasons collection, always some old guys in there too.

AW14 'Home Run' - all black casting, based on 1940s Baseball player Jackie Robinson, who was the first black man to play in Major League Baseball.
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AW15 'Bosphorus'
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SS16 'Comandante'
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AW16 'Tokyo Diaries'
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All lookbooks, runway shows and a bit about the themes here - http://umitbenan.com/
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