Olivier Rousteing, Pierpaolo Piccioli + More on diversity in fashion – Footwear News


A year after the start of the pandemic and more than nine months since the racial calculation propelled by the murder of George Floyd in 2020, the fashion world is still trying to assess what a fairer future really looks like.

While the gears of change have been set in motion by some powerful players and brands, vestiges of inequity underscore the inertia of creating lasting change. More recently, the silence and lack of publicity of many big brands following an increase in Asian-led hate crimes has reignited a conversation about the role of fashion as a voice for social justice issues. .

To analyze the current state of the industry and the work that remains to be done, The New York Times has called in Balmain Creative Director Olivier Rousteing, Creative Director of Valentino Pierpaolo Piccioli, Founder and Stylist of Black Owned Everything Zerina Akers. and the general manager of Depop Maria Raga. for a chat with NYT Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman. Entitled “Beyond the Track: Changemakers, Social Justice & What Comes Next,” the event (which aired Thursday as part of the “On The Runway” series) had a long discussion with the current diversity group. of fashion.

Rousteing recalled his early years at Balmain as a young designer in his early twenties.

“The French don’t like to say the word ‘diversity’. At the time, there were people in French fashion who didn’t appreciate it, they didn’t associate it with luxury. The problem was trying to explain that a color is not going to define a level of chic or not chic. The designer pointed to social media and the resulting direct line between designer and consumer as an incentive for brands to be less insular and start paying more attention to the outside world.

“If it’s not part of who you are and what your values ​​are, it’s actually hard to do anything meaningful,” said Raga, who has spoken at length about the company’s consumer activist Gen Z, whose identity is changing from previous generations. “We realized that just sponsoring black-owned businesses was not enough. We really needed to show more of the journey and create role models to feel included. “

Akers applauded recent efforts on diversity, equity and inclusion in the fashion industry. His social media and now his Black Owned Everything e-commerce platform have been a driving force for black designers. But the stylist also highlighted freelance talent as another way to promote fairness.

“I can contribute a great platform in my work with Beyoncé,” Akers’s longtime stylist told the star and a frequent collaborator with independent designers. “A lot of the attention has been on black-owned brands, when (we also want to) give power back to independent designers. We get used to going on Amazon and buying our stuff and we forget about these designers like mom-and-pop stores, in a way. Many of these young creatives have been pretty much forgotten.

Piccioli, meanwhile, spoke of the power of the image in fashion as a vehicle for new attitudes: “Passion must not only be expressed in words, it can be in images. For me it was a challenge because Valentino was a brand well known for its exclusivity and a certain lifestyle. The real challenge was to move this brand to embrace a new world, ”said the designer. “As a designer and as a person, I want to express my values ​​through the work I do. “

The Creative Director revealed that in the past Valentino hasn’t loaned samples to black magazines like Ebony or Jet, but he’s been working to change that. He also recalled the vision behind his haute couture collection from two years ago, in which he sank with 43 black models, with Naomi Campbell in the lead, to show couture in a new light. “It was an image statement,” he said. “I wanted to update the idea of ​​sewing as something relevant to a new world.”

To learn more about the NYT conference, click here.

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