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    Kerby Jean-Raymond Is Expanding the Fashion Canon

    You’re one of the most prominent independent black designers in the fashion industry, yet you’re regularly sidelined as “urban” or “streetwear.” What do you think of those words to describe certain kinds of fashion — in particular, fashion worn by black people? I think that people have gotten a lot more creative with saying the N-word. People don’t want the language used to describe me to be the same language that describes them, because that would make us equals, and they don’t want that. Alexander Wang and I basically designed the same jacket, and his will always be considered men’s ready-to-wear and mine would have been called streetwear had I not spoken out. I was using the same fabrication, the same factory, the same models. But it’s not a fight that I’m going to win, because this is not an optics thing — this is an emotional resistance.

    Your most recent collection, “American, Also: Lesson 2,” debuted during New York Fashion Week. It featured a swag-surfing gospel choir and was presented in Weeksville, one of the first free black communities formed in the 1830s in Brooklyn. What were your goals with the show? “Lesson 2” is about mundane African-American life and what that looks like. What these collections really aim to do is to shift the narrative that’s constantly being told about what it means to be and look and act black. Equality starts with humanization. We talk about ourselves in such an extraordinary or tragic way that it dehumanizes us, so I’m trying to reverse that.

     

    Jean-Raymond is the founder and creative director of the label Pyer Moss.

    Age: 31

    Occupation: Fashion designer

    Hometown: Brooklyn

    14: The number of black designers who showed collections at New York Fashion Week in February 2018, out of 162.

    When Issa Rae hosted the Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards earlier this year, in an outfit of your creation, she joked, “I’m about as fashionable as Kanye is black — only when it’s convenient.” What do you think about him at the moment? I bought every Kanye West album ever sold. I watched every single video of his multiple times. I dressed like him, had the collar flipped up, everything. We hold him to being the person he was in 2004, and now we have to understand that this is a different person. He might really believe this [expletive]. But he’s a superstar, and he’s still in charge of the youth culture right now. So he has to be very careful about what he co-signs because, like it or not, he is a role model.

    This year, you’re collaborating with the renowned ’90s labels FUBU and Cross Colours. Do you see yourself as trying to create a canon of black designers? Every time American designers are brought up, they say the same four or five names: Donna Karan, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Calvin Klein. They always omit Cross Colours and FUBU, as if these brands weren’t grossing a quarter-billion to over a billion dollars a year. They were never given credit for being as influential as they are. Now that I’m one of the American designers who represents African-American culture, I want to help them reverse their erasure.

    The fashion industry is famously apolitical, and you lost an account early in your career because of a show that featured footage of police killings. Where do you think the line is between activism and fashion? I think there’s a creative license that allows me to do both with ease, because there was no guide before me.

    The new fashion vanguard is seeing more people of color and different genders and body types on the runway. Do you feel part of that? I don’t want to sound narcissistic at all, but I do believe that I am one of the thought leaders that have emerged in the past five years. Every industry had a person that led the march to modernizing the understanding of what black life is: In music, it was Solange. In television, it was “Insecure.” In sports, it was Colin Kaepernick and Serena Williams. And in fashion, I don’t think there is another me. I take my position — as the one to start this — very seriously, because although sometimes I just want to be a young kid with money and act stupid, I have to understand that my impact is probably going to outlive me.

     

    Source: The New York Times Magazine

    Interview by Thessaly La Force

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    Committed to reclaiming the legacy of the black and brown designers, Jean-Raymond partnered with FUBU The Collection for New York Fashion Week.

    Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss isn’t the first designer to decamp to Brooklyn—Eckhaus Latta have been showing in trendy Bushwick for the past few seasons—but he might be the first to bring Fashion Week to Weeksville. The neighborhood has a particularly rich and special history. Founded by James Weeks, an African-American man, in 1838, little over a decade after slavery was abolished in New York, it became one of the country’s first free-black communitiesKerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss isn’t the first designer to decamp to Brooklyn—Eckhaus Latta have been showing in trendy Bushwick for the past few seasons—but he might be the first to bring Fashion Week to Weeksville.

    The neighborhood has a particularly rich and special history. Founded by James Weeks, an African-American man, in 1838, little over a decade after slavery was abolished in New York, it became one of the country’s first free-black communities. The Pyer Moss show took place in the grounds of the Weeksville Heritage Center, where four extant houses formed the backdrop. Moments before the lights when up on the runway, a gospel choir dressed in all white lined up on the grassy lawn. The resulting tableau was like something out of a Kerry James Marshall painting, conjuring serenity and joy despite the heavy gray rain clouds overhead.

    Jean-Raymond had been pondering the current landscape of African-American life while making of this collection. He came across a copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book in his research, a guidebook first published in the 1930s that served as a tool for black travelers in Jim Crow–era America, signposting restaurants and hotels that were relative safe zones from discrimination and establishments to avoid. “It got me starting to imagine what the African-American experience would look like without the constant threat of racism,” said the designer. He enlisted rising art star Derrick Adams to help bring his vision to life, commissioning 10 paintings that were woven throughout the collection. There was a painterly image of a young black man grilling burgers printed on a simple white T-shirt, and a black page boy and flower girl at a wedding on an oversized silk shirt. Easily the most touching portrait in the bunch, and perhaps the most exquisite piece in the collection overall, was a black father lovingly cradling his baby, rendered in glittering beads on a shift dress. “Just black people doing normal things,” was how Jean-Raymond put it.
    In a moment when even the most ordinary aspects of black life seem under constant threat—when a black man or woman innocently barbecuing in their own backyard has been known to elicit an armed police response—these clothes presented a radical counterpoint to a narrative of sensationalism and tragedy porn, speaking volumes more than a political slogan tee.

    Jean-Raymond is as committed to reclaiming the legacy of the black and brown designers who came before him as he is to making a name for himself. Last season it was Cross Colours. This season, 1990s streetwear label FUBU, or For Us By Us, partnered on a capsule. “We wanted to highlight designers that weren’t seen,” said Jean-Raymond. “These companies grossed hundreds of millions in their prime, but weren’t recognized in the same way that brands like Donna Karan were because they were considered urban, not fashion.”

    Jean-Raymond unveiled his first collection for Reebok last season, and the partnership has been pivotal to his brand’s expansion—many of his former interns are now full-time paid members of his team. The new white and pink quilted sneaker booties he’s created for the second installment of the Reebok partnership are likely to take his business another step forward, too; ditto the graphic ponchos and tracksuits. All in all, cause for celebration—in this case, a friends and family cookout in the backyard of the clapboard Weeksville homes that took place immediately after the show. Just black people doing normal things.

    Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss show cased FUBU The Collection in his Spring 2019 Review at New York Fashion week.. Click here to see Pyer Moss complete 2019 Spring Review. 

     

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    Hurricane Florence’s Flooding Could Trigger Public Health Emergency from Toxic Sludge, Pig Manure

    Hurricane Florence could trigger a major public health emergency in North Carolina if flooding causes toxic materials from hog manure pits, coal ash dumps and other industrial sites to be washed into the state’s drinking supply water, the Associated Press reports.

    North Carolina is home to about 2,300 pork farms with 9 million hogs. There are also dozens of coal ash dumps. If the pits of waste from hogs and the coal ash were to overflow from flooding, toxic lagoons could be created.

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    Billionaire BET Founder Bob Johnson Wasn’t Allowed to Check In at Florida Hotel

    A Florida resort helped America’s first black billionaire set a new world record when they assisted him with becoming the first black person to ask for the police to be called on himself after the luxury hotel denied him entry because he was black wearing sunglasses.

    On Aug. 24, in an attempt to stop the nationwide epidemic of fraudsters making reservations in their name and then showing up with matching credit cards and identification, Eau Palm Beach hotel in West Palm Beach, Fla., told BET founder Robert Johnson that they couldn’t allow him to check into the hotel until he removed his prescription sunglasses, according to WPBF, who spoke with a man they claim was Johnson. (Although it is unclear if they verified his identity by asking him to remove his Ray-Bans.)

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    Amazon will dethrone Walmart as the No. 1 retailer of apparel this year

    Amazon has another milestone in its sights. And this time, Walmart’s in the crosshairs.

    The e-commerce giant will be the No. 1 seller of apparel in the U.S. in 2018, according to Wells Fargo, which raised its price target on the Seattle-based retailer Monday following new analysis into its clothing segment.

    The e-commerce behemoth’s apparel and footwear gross sales is expected to top $30 billion this year and leapfrog longtime incumbent Walmart for the top spot, wrote Wells Fargo analyst Ike Boruchow.

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    Homeless Samaritan Will Get Cash; Couple Under Investigation

    FLORENCE, N.J. (AP) — A homeless good Samaritan who claims a New Jersey couple mismanaged the $400,000 they raised for him online will receive all of the funds he’s due while the couple is now under criminal investigation.

    In a joint statement issued late Thursday, GoFundMe and the law firm representing Johnny Bobbitt said he will get an amount equal to the balance he didn’t receive through the fundraiser.

    The announcement came several hours after authorities had executed a search warrant at the New Jersey, home of Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure. Citing “enormous public interest” in the case, county prosecutor Scott Coffina confirmed in a Facebook post that Mark D’Amico and Katelyn McClure are under investigation, though no charges have been filed.

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    Jemele Hill And J.K. Rowling Blast ‘Racist/Jim Crow Serena Williams Cartoon

    An Australian newspaper most likely didn’t mean to create a racist cartoon of Serena Williams‘ incident at the US Open this past Saturday, but that’s what they’ve now got on their hands.

    The cartoon — drawn by Mark Knight (editorial cartoonist for the Herald Sun newspaper) — shows the tennis superstar stomping on her racket.

    But unfortunately for Knight and the Herald Sun, as TMZ points out, it looks like a Jim Crow-era, Sambo-style caricature of a black person — not Serena Williams.

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    Dallas Officer Who Killed Black Man In His Own Home Arrested For Manslaughter

    The case against a white Dallas police officer who shot and killed a black neighbor in the neighbor’s home will be presented to a grand jury, which could decide on more serious charges than manslaughter, the district attorney overseeing the case said Monday.

    Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings says an off-duty police officer charged in the shooting death of a neighbor had parked on the wrong floor of their apartment complex’s parking garage.

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    Nike Debuts Colin Kaepernick Ad, Conservatives Protest by Burning Their Own Gear

    Nike has thrown itself into the controversy over NFL players protesting during the national anthem, unveiling a new ad on Monday featuring Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who started kneeling during the anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

    Kaepernick revealed on social media that he is one of the faces of Nike’s 30th-anniversary “Just Do It” campaign, along with Serena Williams, LeBron James, Odell Beckham Jr., Shaquem Griffin, and Lacey Baker.

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