The world, right now, has seemingly reached its boiling point, bubbling with so much fury that anything outside of what’s happening socially feels like a superfluous distraction—unneeded and counterproductive.
NYFW Mens is unfolding in the wake of mass American hysteria, which was first triggered by two cases of unjust police brutality and then heightened when Texas police were murdered in response. The streets are passionately screaming, “Black Lives Matter,” as pockets of the nation are blindly suggesting, “All Lives Matter;” Those affected by bloodshed are demanding gun control, while others obsessively cite the 2nd Amendment as justification for the right to bear arms.
Black folks are rightfully furious. White folks are inexcusably ignoring.
These pressing current events made today’s kick-off NYFWM presentations feel even more superficial than Fashion Week normally does, as I joined other members of major media outlets to document designers’ spring ’17 collections. If I’m being completely honest, clothing simply cannot feel important when there are lives across the country being deemed unimportant, and then killed for their skin color.
Weaving in and out of shows, I watched as cameras pointed at Insta-lebrities, street style stars and cool kids, creating content to post online that will ultimately pull attention away from what really matters, right now. I saw collections that missed an incredible opportunity to reflect on these pressing social issues, instead rolling out lineups that happily ignored less glamorous realities. People sipped free cocktails and wore their most relevant outfits, while grim scenes were simultaneously unfolding across America, whether in courthouses or in public protests.
Yes, fashion is a money-making business—something we often forget when wrapped in the romanticism of clothing, but fashion is also one of the strongest messaging tools. We use it every day, putting together outfits that speak to our surroundings without having to utter a single word. So what if all these collections provided some greater purpose beyond flashing the freshest aesthetics? And what if all this dense media coverage, from Instagram to Facebook Live, was redirected toward raising social awareness?
My desires, here, are arguably radical, and perhaps even unrealistic, but I do believe the fashion industry has a unique responsibility, especially considering it’s packed with some of society’s most diverse, creative thinkers. The world is currently chaotic and unbalanced, begging for voices with platforms to help cool the boiling population and somehow discover a sense of genuine peace.
Fashion Week is an incredible platform, so why not use it to highlight social issues, rather than distract from them? If we’re not all actively addressing the truth, we’re all helping slow the potential for progress.