diversity in fashion

I'm not offended by Gucci's sweater and you can't make me be.

I'll also be keeping my black card, so don't even try it.

For those of you who get offended when others aren't offended, seek help.

Now that that's out of the way...

I'm open to a more important conversation - cultural appropriation throughout fashion. Gucci especially has participated in this for a few years now. I called it as soon as I saw their marketing on Instagram take a turn a few years back. Their ads slowly incorporated a more edgy, street style which strayed from their classic, clean cut norm. Make sure you do your research between various collections before you try to debate me. I'm not a hype-beast who cops the latest designer to portray myself as some sort of fashion guru. I actually understand fashion from an educational and historical perspective.

The most common question when incidents like this happen: "Were there no black people in the room?" and while there may have been, most are not in a position to speak up. Even if minorities are present and speaking out, it's not unusual that they're severely outnumbered. In addition, not everyone views the world through a racist lens like us Americans. That's a fact. This isn't the first time someone uncultured created something offensive and it unfortunately won't be the last. It's a risk creatives often take. Instead of sitting in anger and contributing to ignorance, we need a concrete solution for brands to apply that resonates as a genuine apology versus a statement uploaded online. That doesn't do it for me and never will. I firmly believe that being proactive and remaining active even once the dust settles, is the only way to achieve true diversity in fashion. If your idea of taking a stance is posting a status to denounce racism, this article won't sit well with you. It's as lazy as these corporations' social media apologies. Arguably worse.

Dapper Dan in custom Louis Vuitton

If we really wanted to boycott something, we should've done away with these luxury brands back in the 90's, as soon as they took legal action against Dapper Dan for using their logos, eventually causing him to go out of business. He ultimately popularized monogram couture and made these brands aware of it's value. His mission was to make high-end brands accessible to minorities, regardless of the legalities and the products being knock-offs. He fitted some of Harlem's and hip hop's finest - Nas, Jay Z, Slick Rick, LL Cool J, Aaliyah; earning him the nickname "The Godfather of Hip-Hop Fashion" which is also the name of his biopic. Check it out if you haven't already. If Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, etc truly cared about diversity in fashion, they would've chosen to collaborate with him, instead of stealing his vision for their brands. Although he now has an atelier with Gucci in Harlem, it's a day late, dollar short type of thing.

In short: you look crazy boycotting a brand that was never truly for you. The average person can't afford majority of what Gucci sells anyway. I'm glad Dapper Dan is brave enough to speak out and demand a meeting with Gucci's CEO after this blackface controversy. The CEO's response to his request will speak volumes. All we need to do now is stay tuned. In all honesty, they should've reached out to him first. Fashion is advancing and a lot of luxury brands have suffered by refusing not to initially conform. They're now scrambling to find their footing in a vastly changing market. In summary: they need us. Without the allure, these brands are essentially overpriced, therefore making them irrelevant, therefore making them worthless.

custom designs for Bobby Brown, LL Cool J, Eric B & Rakim, and Cam'Ron

Exclusion in fashion is played out. With the rise of social media platforms, designers and street style can no longer be tamed. People can't be forced to "stay in their lane", especially artists. You can now scroll across various feeds to consume fashion, instead of having it spoon fed to you by a major publication, such as Vogue. Louis Vuitton bringing Virgil Abloh in to design menswear was a major red flag for me. Am I happy for him? Yes. However, he wasn't considered until he created a viral brand, Off-White, that forced others to pay attention. Years before that, it was no secret that Louis Vuitton was a dream job of his, when he was just the guy creative directing for Kanye West. Mr. West was also very vocal about his love for the brand. For those with amnesia, watch this short video of what one would think is an official Louis Vuitton ad. Anyway, I knew from Virgil's first Off-White collection that he was something special. It just had that "it" factor, seamlessly blending street-wear and high fashion, without overdoing it. He made statement pieces that allowed for quick brand recognition..his now infamous stripes. I applaud Virgil for being brave enough to explore uncharted territory and he's doing a phenomenal job. Louis Vuitton is undergoing a necessary face-lift and it's just the warm up. Classic luxury brands no longer have a choice - they either have to step it up or get left behind. The pressure is on to appeal to the masses.

The Prada key-chain controversy is of no comparison and needs to remain independent of this Gucci mishap - a satirical monkey does not hold the same weight as a black and red sweater. Especially when you consider the fact that Gucci's standard colors are red, black and green. Sorry, not sorry.

So no, I'm not offended by Gucci's sweater. I'm offended that we're still seeking acceptance from places outside of ourselves. I'm offended that our anger always seems to be misplaced and followed up with little to no action with even fewer concrete results. I'm offended that we continue to place importance on and expect things of institutions that existed before rights for minorities did. But most of all, I'm offended that you're offended that I'm not offended. If I can allow you the space to be sensitive, then you can allow me the space to just be.

In honor of Black History Month, I'll be releasing a list of my favorite black designers - some who've already showcased at #nyfw for #SS19 and some still not so well-known. Stay tuned!

"I am my own muse.

I am the subject I know best.

The subject I want to better." 

-Frida Kahlo