“We sweat for a nickel and a dime,” sang Rihanna in a woozy sample from her single, “American Dream,” during Gypsy Sport’s spring ’17 presentation yesterday. The audience quietly surged in response to DJ NAR’s fitting music selection—that lyric resonating with the hustle of NYC youth, especially those working in fashion. “Turn it into an empire,” Rih continued, reflecting the rapid rise of founder Rio Uribe’s CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund-winning brand.
Every season we’ve seen Gypsy Sport slowly develop, but this NYFWM saw their legitimacy solidify with an impressive Cadillac House backdrop and particularly polished fashion crowd. The buzzy genderless brand is no longer New York’s underdog—it’s New York’s guard dog, pioneering a set of values and aesthetics that make neighboring brands look late.
Fashion, even after all its broadcasted “inclusivity,” still feels plagued by deep-seeded problems, perhaps because it’s structured to move slower than what’s happening socially in real time. Designers today must not only have their finger on the pulse, they must be looking months ahead for where cultural shifts will likely take them and allow those educated predictions to inform what’s now.
This is certainly a challenge, as shown by the frustrating NYFWM kick-off that ultimately ignored current American events surrounding police brutality. (It took a Black Lives Matter assembly outside Skylight Clarkson Square to even get the CFDA to mention this month’s viral bloodshed). But from a much larger scope, the fashion industry is still allowing white-washed casting, capitalizing on marginalized people and mistaking recycling for innovation.
Thankfully, Gypsy Sport is changing all of that.
Uribe’s spring ’17 collection focused on globalism—a national policy that favors open borders, free trade and foreign aid. This perspective is uniquely impactful now, when a wall-building Donald Trump as our Republican presidential candidate makes nationalism seem too grim to ever possibly subscribe to. With globalism comes widening our understanding of people, and empathizing with the impressive spectrum—acknowledging blurred gender lines and celebrating races beyond our own.
This is where Gypsy Sport is most successful, creating a Utopian world where inclusivity is not just a buzz word forced into a brand’s mission statement, but a reality. Street cast models, from the lovely Maya Monés to Baby Breath producer Seashell, all starred in the presentation, with personalized walks that rebelled against any standardization in fashion. Boys wore colorful synthetic wigs and proudly flipped their hair (“hair”) for cameras; bodies ranged from tall and lanky to short and round—all beautiful in Uribe’s clothing and all treated as equals.
The fashion for spring ’17 pulled inspiration from soccer jerseys and a piece of West African indigo fabric that Uribe found in a Parisian flea market. A jersey, truly, is one of the biggest symbols of heteronormativity—something socialized men wear to flaunt their fabricated masculinity to the world. As contemporary fashion’s most dynamic rebel, Uribe embellished the sportswear silhouette with ruffles, lace and fringe; sports bras were styled over sheer blouses and warm-up jerseys were worn with multi-layer lace skirts. Because what better way to overturn homogenous menswear than by feminizing one of the most widely worn menswear silhouettes?
Like the wise, ravenous guard dogs that keep a space protected 24/7, Gypsy Sport is very serious about fostering its New World of genderless glory and, despite recent success, doesn’t seem to be swayed into watering down its core values to reach a mass market. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again—the brand that first humbly broke out for spring ’15 with a guerrilla-style fashion show at Washington Square Park easily delivered NYFWM’s most important presentation this season.