University of Fashion Blog

Category "Current Topics in Fashion"

Pandemicwear…a new fashion category?

Image credit: Naploungewear.com, Gentleherd.com and Onecozyday.com

We are thrilled to hear the news that Covid numbers are diminishing and vaccinations are on the rise. However, knowing that we’ll still need to take precautions, i.e. working from home, washing hands frequently and wearing masks until we reach herd immunity, possibly until sometime next fall, has some of us fashionistas thinking about what to add to our wardrobe in the interim.

Remember athleisurewear? That was the classification of merchandise that burst onto the fashion scene in the double aughts, that was a cross between sportswear and activewear. According to the Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry (authored by me, Francesca Sterlacci, and former FIT Dean, Joanne Arbuckle):

Athleisure became popular as a result of the yoga pant and leggings craze. This type of clothing, originally designed for working out, became suitable for wearing outside of the gym too. Brands like Lululemon popularized the look and other brands and retailers took notice. Cashmere sweatsuits and luxury workout gear soon found their way into both men’s and women’s wardrobes. An added benefit of wearing athleisurewear is that even if you don’t go to the gym, you can still look like you do. By 2016, athleisurewear entered the bespoke arena with Saville Row tailors showcasing items such as track suits.”

(Image credit: Cozy Earth)

But what about the merch category that preceded athleisurewear called ‘loungewear’? Those of a certain age will remember loungewear being worn around the house at a time when women had lots of leisure time (1950s), that is, before they got to have careers and were liberated in the 1970s.

Well, ‘loungewear’ as a category no longer seemed appropriate thanks to COVID-19. The fact is …home lockdown consists of remote working, teaching & learning, shopping and even Zoom socializing. There’s absolutely nothing ‘leisure’ about that, right?

Some of us have been wearing our PJs all day long, or sweatshirts and sweatpants. And we only feel the need to dress up, do our hair and our makeup if we have a Zoom business call. So, where’s the incentive to care about fashion?

(Image credit: Sew Sketchy)

Sew Sketchy, an illustrated New York fashion influencer created by artist Romy Schrieber, gets her quarantine-look right with her fashion preference for pajama-wearing, but will absolutely never forego her lavish painted nails and iconic sunglasses.

 

Pandemicwear Looks

(Image credit: Atritz.com)

After hours trolling the Internet, I am now seeing a new trend/category emerge that I’m calling, ‘pandemicwear’. When I Googled the word pandemicwear, the first thing that pops up was “Slob-Style Chic” (what to wear when there’s nobody to dress up for except your cat – and Zoom).

I don’t know about you but just knowing that there’ll be at least 5 more months of lockdown until we can all get vaccinated to achieve heard immunity, I’m needing a ‘fashion’ shot in the arm right about now. What I’ve researched is a trove of two-piece sets that are offered in a variety of fibers from cashmere and bamboo to silk blends, that can make you feel dressed up while you are still in lock down.

What I’ve laid out here is not to be considered influencer marketing, it’s just my personal opinion of what I might want to wear around my home to ‘feel’ dressed up without ‘being’ dressed up!

(Image credit: naploungewear.com)

Cashmere… how luxe can you get? I’ve been finding cashmere sets that are casual and chic and great for having to jump on a Zoom call.

(Image credit: Lellyan.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: Tenmorden.com)

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

And let’s not forget about footwear…. like these comfy slippers from The Frankie Shop that come in a variety of chic neutrals.  And the feather pom-pom slip-ons from Nap.

(Image credit: The Frankie Shop)

(Image credit: Nap.com)

Let’s all hope that we can all get vaccinated within the next few months because, let’s face it, there are so many other clothes in our closets that are feeling pretty neglected right about now.

Got a fav pandemicwear outfit that you’d like to share?

FORGET POLITICS…MADAM VP IS A STYLE ICON IN THE MAKING

(Left to Right) U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, and President Joe Biden at their Inauguration.
(Photo Credit: Getty Images)

U.S. President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris just completed their first weeks in office. While the dynamic duo has already brought about plenty of positive changes, they also amped-up the fashion quotient in D.C. Thanks to First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and VP Kamala Harris, and finally, American young designers are once again at the forefront of the world fashion stage.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama was a true champion of young American designers and during her eight years as First Lady she has worn everything from Jason Wu to Narciso Rodriguez, turning American designers into household names. American Designers created custom looks for the former First Lady and when she wore a young designer’s creation, the publicity was a dream-come-true. In 2016 when former President Trump took office, many designers disagreed with Trumps’ political stance, and declined to dress the former First Lady Melania Trump, so many of Melania Trump’s outfits were purchased, as opposed to being custom-created or gifted, as is tradition. While this was great for retailers, American designers suffered not being in the political limelight.

Doug Emhoff and Kamala Harris, in Altuzarra, as she accepted the nomination for the vice presidency at the Democratic National Convention. (Photo Credit: Win Mcnamee for Getty Images)

Thankfully, this will all change as the United States moves into a new era of leadership, all eyes will be on Vice President Harris to see what subtle statements she will make with her wardrobe choices. Throughout the campaign trail, Kamala Harris’ wardrobe remained consistent: a business-ready pantsuit or blazer worn with jeans; her shoe choices were also limited to her signature Converse sneakers or a classic pointed-toe pump. The VP also consistently wore her beloved accessory, a string of pearls, a sentimental tribute to her Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority at Howard University. Kamala Harris has broken down many barriers as she is the first female, Black, and South Asian-American Vice President of the United States.

AMERICA’S VP COVERGIRL

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the February print Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

VP Harris’ style has evolved greatly since the early days of her campaign trail. She has even graced the covers of prestigious fashion magazines, including Elle in November 2020 and the Vogue February 2021 cover that stirred up plenty of controversy involving the most powerful woman in fashion and the most powerful woman in the White House. Social media ran ramped with many accusing the Vogue cover as being “disrespectful”, but Ann Wintour originally described the cover as “joyful, casual, and accessible.”

On the print Vogue cover the VP is dressed in a dark brown jacket by Donald Deal, narrow black jeans, a white t-shirt, her signature Irene Neuwirth pearl necklaces, and trusty Converse sneakers. But the second Vogue cover which was digital, featured a closer-cropped photo of the VP wore a pale blue suit by Michael Kors.

Vice President Kamala Harris wears Michael Kors on the February digital Vogue cover. (Photo Credit: Tyler Mitchell)

Many social media users argued that the Vice President should have been dresses more inspirational than casual.  When Kamala appeared on the cover of “Elle” in November, they captured her strength, warmth, intelligence, and beauty. She looked completely Vice Presidential. Sad that Vogue did not achieve those results in such a momentous moment in American history.

Vice President Kamala Harris appears on the November 2020 Elle cover. (Photo Credit: Inez & Vinoodh)

According to Sway, people familiar with the matter on both sides said that there had been no contractual cover approval agreement in place, the cover image was not what the vice president’s team had expected. The day after the first photo leaked, a second — more formal — digital exclusive cover was also released. Ms. Wintour said in a follow-up statement to Sway, “Obviously we have heard and understood the reaction to the print cover and I just want to reiterate that it was absolutely not our intention to, in any way, diminish the importance of the vice president-elect’s incredible victory.” In an exclusive interview on this episode of “Sway,” Ms. Wintour discusses the magazine cover, diversity concerns at Condé Nast, the future of the fashion industry.

Listen on Apple Podcasts: https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/sway/id1528594034?i=1000505058648

VICE PRESIDENT KAMALA HARRIS’ STYLE EVOLUTION

Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion choices. (Photo Credit: Town & Country all Getty Images)

Through the years as a senator in California and on the campaign trail, VP Kamala Harris shied away from fashion. Her uniform consisted of muted pantsuits, blazers, skinny jeans, and her signature Converse sneakers and pearl necklaces. Her sartorial choices were meant to blend into the background while she fought for political change and policies that were dear to her heart.

Then Senator Kamala Harris grilling a Trump administration official in June, 2020. (Photo Credit: Pool for Getty Images)

But once Biden chose her as her running mate, Kamala Harris’ style began to evolve. For starters, Vice President Harris began to collaborate with Hollywood stylist Karla Welch, who is especially known for the perfectly imperfect off-duty looks she creates for her clients, a diverse crew that includes Oprah Winfrey, Justin Bieber, Karlie Kloss, Tracee Ellis Ross, and even Anita Hill. According to Town & Country, “Harris and Welch’s professional partnership is something of a secret—kinda open, kinda not. And neither camp returned emails requesting confirmation.”

During inauguration week, VP Harris’ sartorial choices where on point and rich with meaning, the most powerful woman in the United States wore looks create by designers of color, including Sergio Hudson, Prabal Gurung, Pyer Moss’s Kerby Jean-Raymond and Christopher John Rogers, whose brilliant purple coat and dress was accessorized with pearls by Puerto Rican designer Wilfredo Rosado on the day she was sworn in as Vice President of the U.S.

In a Town & Country interview with Robin Givhan, the only journalist to receive a Pulitzer Prize for fashion criticism, and who is now the Washington Post’s senior critic-at-large, chronicling politics, race and the arts stated, “On one hand, Harris’s clothes are straightforward and professional, especially while she was on the campaign trail. She looks like she could be walking into any major law firm, any Fortune 500 company. But I think there’s also this sort of inability to not discuss her clothes because of the historical nature of her position.”

Fashion is a way for people to get a little slice of Harris’s life and symbolism for themselves. It’s aspirational fashion in a new way. “I also just sort of worry to some degree that we are muddling the line between Vice President and First Lady,” says Givhan.

A First Lady she is not, but she is a first of so many achievements—first woman, first woman of color, first woman of South Asian descent, first daughter of immigrants to hold the office of vice president. So as the most powerful woman of the United States, should the public scrutinize over her sartorial choices? Naturally, her policies and what she does for the nation comes first, but there is nothing wrong with adding a little panache along the way.

Vice President Kamala Harris in Carolina Herrera (Left) and President Joe Biden (Right) on the night they accepted their victory. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Her rise to fashion stardom began in November, the night she took the stage alongside President Joe Biden and they accepted their victory as the newly elected President and Vice President of the United States. VP Harris carefully selected a creamy Carolina Herrera pantsuit and white silk pussy bow blouse, a nod to the suffragist movement, this look was analyzed across every form of media and many approved the look as it stood for how far women have come and she embodied power and beauty in her suit.  The public is watching what VP Harris wears so closely that there is already a useful website, WhatKamalaWore.com, by the journalist Susan E. Kelley, who also curates similar sites about Meghan Markle and Kate Middleton’s sartorial choices.

“I don’t think she needs to make a stand verbally, but I do think there are going to be expectations of her in her position as a woman,” says Peju Famojure, a stylist and fashion consultant who has styled Solange Knowles and consulted with Beyoncé in a Town & Country interview. “There are always expectations tied into women’s fashion choices. People would be happy to see her support brands that are made in America, but also Black-owned brands, giving them representation, not only from a visual standpoint, but also helping to drive monetary success.”

While VP Harris will want people to focus on her politics and not her clothes, as a history-making public figure, her sartorial choices are a part of the picture that many will focus on. So far, Harris’ outfits have been a lesson in a new form of power dressing: her suits and pointed-toe pumps convey an authoritative mindset, while the more casual Converse and jeans signify a relatable casualness, accessible and familiar to the average American.

U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon via Getty Images)

On January 19th, the eve before the historic inauguration, President Joe Biden and First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, along with Vice President Kamala Harris and her husband Doug Emhoff, gathered on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., for a COVID memorial honoring and remembering the more than 400,000 American lives lost to the pandemic so far.

Arranged along both sides of the Mall’s pool of reflection were hundreds of rectangles of light. “To heal we must remember. It’s hard sometimes to remember,” Biden said, “but that’s how we heal. It’s important to do that as a nation…Let us shine the lights in the darkness…and remember all whom we lost.” His words were followed by a moment of silence. While the moment was somber and full of sorrow, there was also a sense of hope.

There is no doubt that the Biden administration will set a completely different tone than the Trump administration, it will also be a breath of fresh air on the fashion front as First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris have both been championing young American designers and their sartorial choices have been polished, sophisticated, empowering, and bold.  The VP opted to wear a chic camel cashmere coat by Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, which, appeared as a more traditional silhouette from the front, but the back turned revealed a curved shoulder seam that gave way to a flowing, pleated back. Kerby Jean-Raymond is a young Black designer who is likewise weaving purpose into his mission. On his runways, Jean-Raymond has addressed African American narratives in popular culture. In September of last year, he gathered PPE for hospital workers and provided $50,000 in grants for small businesses affected by the COVID crisis.

A back look of U.S. second gentleman Doug Emhoff and U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris, in Pyer Moss, at the COVID Memorial. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Harris also took to the podium the night of the COVID Memorial and said, “Tonight we grieve and begin healing together. Though we may be physically separated, we the American people are united in spirit. And my abiding hope, my abiding prayer, is that we emerge from this ordeal with a new wisdom: to cherish simple moments, to imagine new possibilities, and to open our hearts just a little bit more to one another.”

The Vice President chose Prabal Gurung the morning Inaugural Prayer Service. (Photo Credit: @SecondGentleman Instagram)

On January 20th, Inauguration Day, Vice President Kamala Harris began the day at a church service alongside President Biden and his family. Here she chose a look from Prabal Gurung, an American designer who was born in Singapore and grew up in Nepal. She looked stunning in a garnet-hued double-faced wool crepe dress with a matching coat.

As Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President, she wore a pearl necklace by Wilfredo Rosado. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

Shortly after Kamala Harris was sworn in as the Vice President of the United States by Sonia Sotomayor, America’s first Latina Supreme Court justice. Our first female VP wore a stellar coat and dress by Christopher John Rogers, a young Black designer, who’s known for his love of bold and vibrant colors and shapes, as well as her signature strand of pearls. Her coat and dress were elegant and chic, while purple symbolizes strength, royalty, hope, and a call for unity at a time of political division; after all, when you mix blue (democrat) and red (republican) together, the color purple is created. A fitting chose for our Vice President.

Wearing Sergio Hudson, VP Kamala Harris continued to show support for black designers at the Inaugural Concert. (Photo Credit: The New York Post)

Later that night, at the Celebrating America event, Vice President Kamala Harris championed another young black designer, Sergio Hudson, as she wore an elegant liquid sequin cocktail dress with a floor-length silk tuxedo overcoat, both in inky black—and topped off the look with Irene Neuwirth earrings.

Since winning the election Vice President Kamala Harris’ fashion game has been strong, but we would love to see her step out of her comfort zone, but still be appropriate for her many meetings as VP.

So tell us, what looks would you like to see Vice President Kamala Harris wear?

PRESIDENTIAL STYLE: JOE BIDEN’S SARTORIAL CHOICES THROUGHOUT THE YEARS

President Joe Biden in his signature navy suit and aviator sunglasses. (Photo Credit: @Drew Angerer)

There is no denying that President Joe Biden has nailed the fashion formula throughout his campaign trail, state visits and even during his off-duty sartorial looks. Joe Biden turned 78 on Nov. 20, 2020 and has had a long and successful political career, including two terms as Vice-President of the United States (2009-2017). He is now the most powerful political figure of the United States of America and his clothing choices are being eagerly watched by the fashion industry, who are desperately in need of a shot in the arm (vaccine pun, unintended).

For the most part, men’s suits on the political stage are simply that: men’s suits and not much more. Apart from a pattern on a tie or shirt color, they all look roughly the same. But the truth is that everything from the fit of their shoulders to the size of their shirt collar matters. It can be the difference between looking put together versus wearing unbuttoned oversized baggy suits.

PRESIDENT JOE BIDEN’S INAUGURATION

(Left) First Lady Dr. Jill Biden and (Right) President Joe Biden wearing American Designers on his Inauguration Day. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

On Jan. 20, 2021, the world watched as Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th President of the United States of America. President Biden is known for his effortless, classic American style, so it was no surprise that Ralph Lauren designed his suit for this President’s inauguration.  Before his big day, WWD published an article announcing that Ralph Lauren would be dressing the President for the inauguration. Sources stated that “Biden has been working with the designer on a suit for the historic ceremony. The custom suit will be made in the recently renamed Rochester Tailored Clothing in Rochester, N.Y., which has been making Hickey Freeman clothing for more than a century.” Throughout the years, Joe and Jill Biden have been regular Ralph Lauren customers. “You can’t go wrong wearing Ralph Lauren,” said one menswear designer to WWD.

As President Biden was sworn in, he was the epitome of classic American style. He wore a navy blue suit and overcoat by Ralph Lauren. In a WWD article, one observer commented, “ This is a symbolic sartorial statement for a return to decorum and upholding the values of America.”  President Joe Biden wore a navy, single-breasted, notch lapel, two-button suit, a crisp white dress shirt, and a pale blue tie to coordinate with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden’s Markarian coat and dress look was created by the young American designer Alexandra O’Neill. The color blue was a nod to the Democratic party, according to WWD, a symbol of trust, confidence, and stability. President Biden captured the essence of how a modern day leader of the free world would look like.

Wearing Ralph Lauren was a departure from Brooks Brothers the oldest men’s clothier, founded in 1818, who had outfitted 41 of the 46 American presidents, including Barack Obama during his inauguration in 2009. Due to their failure to adapt to the trend towards slim cut suits and business casual wear, Brooks Brothers fell into bankruptcy last year and was sold for $325 million to SPARC Group, a joint venture between Simon Property and Authentic Brands Group.

Ralph Lauren has a history of nonpartisan dressing, including moments with Michelle Obama and outgoing First Lady Melania Trump. Joe Biden even sported a classic Polo shirt recently to take both of his COVID-19 vaccinations on television.

 

FASHION CHOICES THROUGH THE YEARS

A young Joseph Biden, wearing a casual short-sleeved shirt, pictured in 1967. (Photo Credit: Twitter)

Joe Biden’s political career began in 1970 when he was first elected to a county council seat in Delaware. The law graduate and public defender worked as a senator and launched his first presidential campaign in the 1980s. In 2009, Joe Biden became the Vice President under Barack Obama, the two were a political dream team and had the cool-guy swagger that elevated the menswear game. Biden served as VP of the United States for two terms, ending his post in 2017.

President Joe Biden and former President Barack Obama sharing a laugh and looking dapper. (Photo Credit: barackobama.medium.com)

Throughout his numerous years in political office, Biden has, naturally, refined his work wardrobe, moving from bolder prints and heavier fabrics to cleaner-cut tailoring and the occasional relaxed, open-necked shirt. The President also has embraced accessories to define his style, from his signature aviator sunglasses to funky print socks. President Biden has also been seen throughout his campaign wearing a face-mask, to protect not only himself, but everyone around him.

President Joe Biden in his elegant sartorial look and face mask . (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

When not on the campaign trail, President Biden has also been known to dabble in leather jackets, short-sleeved shirts and his signature aviators. A relaxed preppy vibe with a modern twist.

InStyle Magazine’s 2017 spread on Joe Biden. (Photo Credit Mario Sorrenti)

Here are some of Biden’s looks throughout the years:

Joseph Biden, in stripes and polka dots, checks in at the office of the Secretary of the Senate on December 13, 1972. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in a slick tux, pictured at an event on July 14, 1987. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

 

Joseph Biden, left, in a casual shirt and aviators, receives a briefing at the border village of Panmunjom, South Korea, on August 11, 2001. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

 

Joe Biden, in midnight blue, visits the Melbourne Cricket Ground on July 17, 2016 in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

BIDEN’S STYLE TODAY

Joe Biden, in his favorite color of suit, navy, and his wife, Jill Biden, attend at his election night event at the Chase Centre in Delaware, US, on November 3, 2020. (Photo Credit: EPA)

Today, President Biden is one of the best dressed politicians in the United States. The President is known for wearing a well-tailored classic cut suit, which makes sense given his physique (slim and tall). To the unqualified eye President Biden’s suits might appear to fit a little on the large side, but the slight pull at his top button and the way the back of his jacket collar sits flush against his shirt collar indicate a well-fitted suit.

For the most part President Biden sticks to what works best for him. His suits are usually navy, although occasionally he pushes himself out of his comfort zone and wears black or khaki tones. It seems that the President also prefers to wear crisp white shirts, which give him a sleek and refined look.

President Joe Biden supports his local community. For years he has been working with his local tailor in Wilmington, Delaware and occasionally orders custom shirts from Wright & Simon, a narrow shop on Market Street. Leonard Simon, the shop’s proprietor, has plenty of selfies with the President, but Simon laughs in an interview with the local paper Northjersey.com; “The pictures are in my phone. That’s where they will stay,” said Simon, 71, whose father, Morris Simon, cofounded Wright & Simon in 1935. “I’m a small store in a small state. I have to have discretion.”

Custom suits created at Wright & Simon are beautifully tailored and fit to perfection on their clients. Leonard Simon boasts that his clients can receive a perfectly tailored suit at a fraction of the cost of a designer version. Wilmington is not a $3,000-suit kind of town. At Wright & Simon, a customer can purchase a custom fit and press suit in their tailoring shop above the store for $795. Now that’s a bargain!

President Biden also perfected the art of accessorizing with his cool signature Ray Ban aviator sunglasses, dapper pocket squares, sleek facemasks, elegant repp ties (repetitive woven ribs of the silk tie fabric) and playful socks.

A pair of American Flag themed socks that Joe Biden has worn in the past. (Photo Credit: HuffPost)

PRESIDENT BIDEN BRAND  CHOICES

President Biden mostly chooses his suits from his local tailor shop in Wilmington, Delaware for a moderate price, and the tailoring is impeccable; former President Trump on the other hand has his suits custom made by the Italian luxury brand Brioni for a whopping $3,000.

According to Patrick Henry, better known as LA designer/tailor ‘Fresh’, a slimmer, more tailored fit reads more youthful and modern like those worn by Biden, while a larger and more relaxed suit like that of former President Trump, may speak to a different audience.

According to Fresh, President Biden’s pants are a perfect choice for his silhouette. “Biden’s break sits right at the top of his shoe. “Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.”

Ultimately, Fresh said the tailoring on President Biden’s suits and details like pocket squares make him look more youthful, confident, and ready.

“The presidency isn’t about health and physical fitness, but Biden looks like a young man, like he could go toe to toe with anyone,” he said. “He looks confident and, in my opinion, gives a look of readiness. Whereas a more conservative, looser fit looks like he might be ready to go do something else.”

FASHION AT THE WHITE HOUSE

Throughout the history of the White House, the United States has had several very fashionable first ladies and dapper presidents; from John and Jacqueline Kennedy to Barack and Michelle Obama. These political powerhouses brought style and grace to the White House.

Former President Barack Obama and President Joe Biden have plenty of swag. (Photo Credit: The New York Times)

No one has championed young American designers the way Michelle Obama did, so today, designers are becoming excited again for a fashionable-forward president and first lady. In an article in GQ magazine, America’s most influential designers are celebrating President Joe Biden’s sartorial choices.

In an interview with GQ, American fashion designer and CFDA Chairman Tom Ford stated, “Joe Biden is the perfect American president for now. I have always said that true elegance is not about style but about the way that one treats others. And Joe Biden is elegant. He also happens to be sartorially elegant: understated and a kind of calm and self-assurance that comes with age and experience. Slim and long with perfect posture, I find him quite sleek. A dramatic contrast to his predecessor. In fact, a welcome contrast in every way.”

Tom Ford, you captured President Biden’s essence perfectly!

REMINDER – UNIVERSITY OF FASHION HAS A MEN’S PATERN MAKING SERIES TO GET YOU STARTED AS A MENSWEAR DESIGNER

Happy New Year From UoF!

(Image credit: @mark_higden – www.markhigden.com)

Well, you’ve got to admit, this was a year like no other!

Good riddance 2020. But before you go, we’d like to remember those who tragically lost their lives due to the pandemic and those of us who still mourn the friend or relative that is gone. Please accept our sincere condolences.

As we learned to adjust to the new 2020 normal, we gained insight into what’s really important in life. We even caught a glimpse what life might be like in the future. And there is some hope on the horizon.

We learned the term ‘essential worker’. Health care professionals and others who stepped up while many of us locked down. The ‘thanks’ list is long. From grocery store personnel and other service sector workers, to truckers, FedEx, UPS and Amazon workers, to farmers, meat packers and countless others. How can we ever repay them?

(Image credit: University of Fashion)

Schools and teachers found out what we at UoF have known for years…the future of education is online, and that content is King! When schools demanded their teachers start teaching remotely, hundreds of teachers from many different schools around the world wrote to us for help. We gladly gave free access to our content to help them through the semester. Many schools became subscribers as a result. In addition, we actively promoted Fashion Learning Pods on our blog page.

(Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

Parents became teachers and had to adjust to a whole new lifestyle, many with the help of UoF. In 2020, the HomeSchooling Parent Association certified the University of Fashion as a qualified educational provider for its members.

UoF certificated by Homeschooling Parent Association (Image credit: Homeschooling Parent Association)

(Image credit: Custom Collaborative)

Our hearts were broken as we watched events unfold in May, beginning with the senseless killing of George Floyd. UoF responded to the #BlackLivesMatter movement by covering the fashion industry’s reaction on our blog and by offering free unlimited access to the UoF library to Custom Collaborative, a Harlem non-profit that advocates for women with low to no-income and immigrant women, to build the skills necessary so that they can achieve economic success in the sustainable fashion industry. We also gave free unlimited access to Black Fashion World an organization that provides black fashion professionals access to higher education, capital, mentorship and the advice of experts. We continue to showcase African American designers on our blog because together we can make a difference.

(Image credit: Menswear designer/bespokesman/UoF Instructor Rishabh Manocha -Photo credit: Mitchell Helson)

We were sad to hear that so many small businesses were forced to shutter and that some of our entrepreneurial subscribers and instructors with bespoke fashion businesses were completely locked down. We are hopeful that they’ll be able to reemerge and thrive.

(Image credit Jennifer Coffman)

Many of us made and wore masks, followed social distancing rules and continue to play by the rules. We watched in horror as others didn’t. Our mask contest in April brought out sewers from around the U.S and as far away as Africa, Iraq and Mexico. It warmed our hearts to see how the sewing community and the fashion industry stepped up to the plate. Our founder, Francesca Sterlacci, sewed 300 masks for her local nursing homes.

While we witnessed the most contentious election in our lifetime, we continue to have hope that as a country, we can unite and work together.

Now for some Silver Linings. The pandemic brought climate change into focus. The fashion industry is finally examining its carbon footprint and looking at textiles and technology to help. In March we reported how this is happening in our post Pandemic, Pollution – A Fashion Industry Wake-Up Call? Our 3-part series on  3D design explored how 3D design will help save the planet and our 3-part lesson series on how to design sustainably, taught by founder Noor Bchara of Upcycle Design School, continues to inspire designers to start their own upcycle/recycle brand.

So…the future. As we move into 2021, UoF is committed to delivering the best in fashion education with the best talent that our industry has to offer. Here’s a preview of a few new lessons and series that we’re working on:

  • Swimwear
  • Intimate Apparel
  • Advanced Draping
  • Advanced Menswear
  • Visual Merchandising
  • Advanced Pattern Making

As we eagerly welcome the mystery of 2021 with open arms, we would like to thank all of our UoF behind-the-scenes professionals (especially Brad, Myrna, Chen, Toni and Barbara), our instructors, our individual subscribers and our many school, library and company subscribers.

We wish you all a very Happy New Year!

 

Best wishes,

Francesca Sterlacci – Founder/CEO University of Fashion

Jeff Purvin – Executive Chairman

GAMECHANGERS: THE RISE OF FASHION VIDEO GAMES

 

Ralph Lauren collaborates with Snapchat. (Photo Credit: Ralph Lauren)

With the holidays just around the corner and our festivities limited to “home pod” celebrations and Zoom events, one thing is for certain, this was a year like no other. As we witnessed a global pandemic, an unprecedented number of deaths, a world in lockdown and a toppling of the world economy, we somehow managed to remain hopeful. With the rolling out a COVID-19 vaccine, we just need to have more patience. This year we learned to appreciate our families, health-care workers and first responders. We also learned that wearing a mask shows you care.

Face Masks have become the most popular accessory of 2020. (Photo Credit: Vogue)

Despite the pandemic, this was a year of creativity. Fashion designers went into full scale production of masks and PPE, schools migrated to remote learning, parents threw drive-by celebrations for their kids’ birthdays, schools threw virtual proms and graduations for their seniors and families organized Thanksgiving  Zoom-ebrations.

The fashion industry, once a bastion of tradition, became exceptionally creative as a result of the pandemic, when it came to fashion week. Some brands held virtual audience-less fashion shows, some created short videos and others found artistic ways to shoot their lookbooks.

And now, one of the most inventive ways a designer can showcase their collection is the video game platform. If you are a fervent reader of the UoF blog, you will remember that on April 6th   we predicted this as an innovative way for brands to connect with their customers (Demna Gvasalia, were you listening?)  Here’s the link for reference:

https://www.universityoffashion.com/blog/fashion-computer-game/

BALENCIAGA

On Dec. 6th the video game “Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow” (set in the year 2031) was launched featuring Demna Gvasalia’s main collection for Balenciaga’s fall 2021 season. Enter the world of fashion-tainment!

According to WWD, the allegorical adventure features environments and characters using cutting-edge photogrammetry and the most advanced technology for game hosting, according to the Paris-based fashion house, noting that “Afterworld sets a record for the largest volumetric video project ever undertaken.” For those of us new to digital jargon, photogrammetry is “the science and technology of obtaining reliable information about physical objects and the environment through the process of recording, measuring and interpreting photographic images and patterns of electromagnetic radiant imagery and other phenomena.

Like many designers, Gvasalia must surely miss the excitement of a live runway show, but honestly, the pandemic didn’t stop him from presenting his fashion-forward collection in an avant-garde way. For Paris Fashion Week Spring 2021, Gvasalia was highly praised for his fashion film set to Corey Hart’s “I Wear My Sunglasses at Night,” which showcased Balenciaga’s summer pre-collection with models dashing through rain-slicked Paris streets after dark.

Afterworld: The Age of Tomorrow

What better timing to launch a new computer game than the holidays, during a pandemic, with a stay-at-home order in place! Brilliant marketing, no?

So here’s how it works:

“A hero avatar advances throughout distinct zones, motivated by tasks and interactions,” the house said, sharing details of the online game first with WWD. “The narrative of ‘Afterworld’ is anchored to mythological pasts and projected futures with timeless archetypes and speculative imagery.”

Balenciaga’s pre-collection is futuristic and is inspired by what fashion might be like in 2031 in a conceptual way, and the idea carries over into what’s displayed in the video game.

“A theme of Balenciaga fall 2021 is human destiny, as seen by an interactive, gamified journey,” the house said. “The world may appear to be decaying at first, but it is far from a dystopian view, showing instead the slow return to a healthier balance of nature and industry.”

If you’re a true gamer with quick skills and can beat the game, the reward is “A real-life breathing exercise set in a virtual utopia. In the end, the hero has finally becomes (as it is referred to in Hero’s Journey analysis) a ‘Master of  Two Worlds’,” Balenciaga told WWD, apparently alluding to studies of archetypal heroes by the late American academic Joseph Campbell.

Gvasalia has been breaking the traditional fashion industry rules and they seem to be working to his advantage. Last September the designer revealed that he would show Balenciaga’s pre-collections during Paris Fashion Week, and his main collections for the house in June and December, reversing his previous show order.  The unconventional designer also stated in past interviews that he wishes to break away from the hamster wheel of doing runway shows every season; although he hasn’t ruled out runway shows in the future. Gvasalia is already planning to stage a show next July for Balenciaga’s much anticipated return to haute couture.

Demna Gvasalia, the Creative Director for Balenciaga. (Photo Credit: WWD)

“Fashion has become such a checklist. And I feel like I personally want to try to do it differently,” Gvasalia said in an interview with WWD.

 

OTHER FASHION COMPUTER GAMES

Balenciaga’s timing to release an online video game comes at a pinnacle time in the crossover between gaming and fashion, a relationship that has been progressively developing.

Animal Crossings designer collaborations. (Left) Looks from Valentino. (Right) Looks from Marc Jacobs. (Photo Credit: AllGamers HyperX)

Since lockdowns began, fashion lovers have been playing Animal Crossing, a Nintendo-created game (launched in 2001), but since May, designer brands such as Marc Jacobs and Valentino have created “New Horizons” looks and the game’s popularity took off.  Suddenly, the Nintendo Switch and Switch Light, the game system to play Animal Crossings on, were on everyone’s wish list and they became hard to find. Even Instagram accounts like Animal Crossing Fashion Archive, Nook street Market, and Animalcrossfits became a craze. 2020 has brought in a new area in fashion and gaming, and it’s so much more than just picking out your favorite color for a character’s t-shirt.

Across the board, luxury fashion houses are collaborating with the video game industry, as this promises to be the future of marketing and retail as Generation Z and Alpha are incredibly tech driven.

Gucci unveiled a series of new app features including the Arcade App, inviting customers to play with popular house motifs and characters, plus AR technology allowing them to virtually “try on” sneakers and watches. The Italian luxury brand also launched a collaboration with The Sims and a tennis-themed outfit game, Tennis Clash.

K slash DA in Louis Vuitton. (Photo Credit Louis Vuitton)

Louis Vuitton launched its League of Legends capsule collection last year, in partnership with Riot Games. Meanwhile, Burberry collaborated with Snapchat and created Animal Kingdom, an in-store gamified experience in which Snapcodes transport shoppers to a Burberry world. Snapchat also teamed up with Ralph Lauren to create virtual clothing for personal Bitmojis.

“With confinement, we started the year 2020 to wake up into 2025,” describes Christian Louboutin of such acceleration in an interview with Nylon magazine. “I’m not a gamer myself — I can barely switch on the TV — but I’ve observed in the last few years more and more people, especially at the airport or in planes, playing on their phones.” Just this past October, the footwear designer presented his Spring 2021 collection via the app Zepeto, enabling users to create personal avatars and discover his latest creations.

In an interview with Nylon magazine, “Our social lives are now predominantly playing out online. Therefore, our main channel to present ourselves and shape out identity is digital,” says Rachael Stott, futures analyst at strategic foresight consultancy the Future Laboratory, which estimates that when it comes to in-game spending, U.S. gamers each spend on average $229 on digital purchases. For comparison’s sake, the new stand alone XBox Series X and Sony PlayStation 5 both retail for $499, while the Oculus Quest 2 all-in-one virtual reality headset retails for $399.

According to the trend forecasting agency WGSN, gaming has an estimated global reach of 2.7 billion; and ‘skins’, virtual items that change the look of a character, accounted for 80% of the $120 billion spent on digital games in 2019.

“Fashion working with gaming is kind of the next obvious step in the evolution of fashion,” says Erin Wayne, head of community and creator marketing at Twitch (in an interview with Nylon magazine). The live-streaming platform launched in 2011, now boasts 26.5 million daily visitors. In September, Burberry became the first luxury fashion label to partner with the service and stream its Spring 2021 show, and in July, the UK-based university Ravensbourne streamed its graduating fashion students’ collections, which had been presented via a digital avatar project.

“Gen Zers are digital natives. They don’t want content pushed at them,” says Adam Harris, global head of brand partnership studio at Twitch. On Twitch, you can find anything from cats sleeping to ASMR to gaming to chatting. Teens today will seek out the content they are interested in, case in point, Fortnite’s Travis Scott spectacular in April: 12 million players logged into the concert. Meanwhile, Lil Nas X’s recent stint on gaming platform Roblox drew 33 million views.

“Fashion brands are primarily infiltrating gaming as a marketing tool,” points out Stott. With doors to physical stores shuttered, gaming devices have the potential to build communities. “Spending hours crafting a digital replica to show your peers currently makes sense,” she says.

The Puma X Tabitha Simmons Collection on Drest. (Photo Credit: Drest)

There are a handful of other fashion video games as well. “Drest” an interactive styling game, that was launched towards the end on 2019 now carries over 200 brands. The video game was founded by Lucy Yeomans, a former magazine editor-in-chief of Net-a-Porter and editor of the fashion magazine Harper’s Bazaar in the UK. Another popular fashion game is DressX, which was founded by Daria Shapovalova and Natalia Modenova. They are a retail platform for digital fashion, carrying over 30 brands, mostly URL only, some IRL, too, sell between $25 and $200. It’s like digital couture.

“Gaming is starting to become such a cultural force. Our mission is to become one of those brands like the Dickies [of the world] or whoever was at the beginning of that culture,” Simon Brown, product director of Fnatic says in an interview with Nylon.

 

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A NEW ERA FILLED WITH HOPE, UNITY, AND OF COURSE FASHION

From left, Doug Emhoff, husband of Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, Harris, President-elect Joe Biden and his wife Dr. Jill Biden on stage together, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, in Wilmington, Del. (Photo Credit: AP)

Saturday, November 7th was an historical day in the United States. Not only did the country elect former Vice President Joe Biden to be our 46th President, but we also elected our first female, first Black and first South Asian Veep, Kamala Harris.

President-elect Joe Biden, delivered a message of hope, unity and possibility, during his victory speech in Wilmington, Delaware. Joe wore a navy suit and light blue tie, assuring that he will be a president who, in his own words, “seeks not to divide but to unify.” He told the crowd of supporters, “Let us be the nation we know we can be. A nation united, a nation strengthened, a nation healed. There’s never anything we’ve tried we’ve not been able to do.”

Kam & Joe rocking pantsuits and Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks. (Credit: People Instagram)

HERE COMES THE FASHION

Although this blogpost will mainly focus on Dr. Jill Biden and Kamala Harris, we thought we’d provide a teaser on Joe Biden’s sartorial choices (stay tuned for our next post on Biden Style in depth).

According to L.A. bespoke tailor Fresh (tailor to music icon, Weekend and other celebs), when asked about the difference between a Trump suit (Brioni, $3,000 loose and oversized) and Biden’s suits (Delaware’s Wright & Simon custom made ($795) and Hickey Freeman’s ($1500) Rich Fresh said, “The first thing to look at is the shoulder. Biden’s suit sits right on the shoulder, which allows the chest to sit right, the sleeve to fall beautifully. Biden’s pant break sits right at the top of his shoe. Even though he’s moving and walking, you can still see it hits right at the top. He’s not showing his whole sock off, he’s not trying to look super cool or like a teen, the whole leg fits great.” Oh, and speaking of socks…let’s not forget Joe’s signature ‘American flag’ socks and his cool pocket squares! The new men’s trend?

DR. JILL STYLE

Harris was not the only one who made a bold sartorial statement that night. Our incoming First Lady, Dr. Jill Biden, chose a chic navy floral vine dress with an asymmetric hemline, created by Laura Kim and Fernando Garcia, the designer duo behind the Oscar de la Renta label. Dr. Jill  paired her dress with coral kitten heels, minimal jewelry, and the accessory of 2020, a simple face mask. On Instagram, the Oscar de la Renta company posted a picture of the first couple-elect to their 4.8 million followers. “Today we congratulate our President-elect Joe Biden and the [future] first lady Jill Biden.”

President-elect Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden, in Wilmington, Delaware. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

In an interview with WWD, Oscar de la Renta’s chief executive officer Alex Bolen said, “We’ve been fans of Dr. Jill Biden’s for many years and have had the privilege of working with her in the past. Oscar adored the opportunity to work with accomplished women, finding role models such as [former] Secretary [of State Hillary] Clinton, Mrs. [Laura] Bush and Dr. Biden particularly inspiring.”

“Like Oscar, Laura [Kim] and Fernando [Garcia] relish the challenge of helping women lead their lives — especially if those lives take place on the world stage — with a tremendous sense of confidence,“ said Bolen. He also congratulated the Bidens’ and Senator Harris, on behalf of the design duo, himself and his wife Eliza, the company’s executive vice president. “We wish them every success.” 

The late Oscar de la Renta, who passed away in 2014, dressed many first ladies (from both parties) in his lifetime, from Laura Bush to Hillary Clinton.

To see more of Dr. Jill’s fashion choices while Second Lady, follow this link https://www.huffpost.com/entry/jill-biden-style_l_5f7c91c7c5b6e5aba0d0b135

Designers are betting that the first lady-elect will help rev-up the American fashion industry, when she steps out and onto the international stage. Rumors are already circulating as to ‘who’ will she choose to wear for the inauguration ceremony? And those of us in the industry know how much of a BIG DEAL that is for the lucky designer!

Like her husband, Dr. Biden is known to support local shops. She asks about prices and considers her purchases in her home city of Wilmington, Delaware. But like many first ladies before her, Dr. Biden’s style decisions have begun to change (her Oscar de la Renta dress was a hefty $5,690). Mostly known for choosing classic looks from smaller, contemporary labels, within the past few months she has shifted to wearing powerhouse designers, such as Ralph Lauren, Christian Siriano and Brandon Maxwell.

Organizations like the National Retail Federation are also optimistic about the future under the Biden administration. According to WWD, the group issued a statement on Saturday, congratulating Biden and Harris and pledging to work with the new administration: “As the largest private-sector employer in the country, the retail industry looks forward to continuing our tradition of working with presidents and their administrations of both major political parties to advance the industry’s priorities in job creation, economic development and career opportunities for millions of Americans. We congratulate president-elect Biden and vice president-elect Harris on a hard-fought victory,” said National Retail Federation president and chief executive officer Matthew Shay.

“Throughout this year’s extraordinary circumstances, retailers have shown their resilience and adaptability and will continue to ensure the safety and well-being of our customers, the communities we serve, and the 52 million working Americans supported by the retail industry as we enter a busy holiday season,” he added.

OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY’S SIGNATURE LOOK

Dr. Jill will be unlike any other first lady before her. For the first time in U.S. history, this first lady will hold a job outside of the White House and will continue her work as an English professor at Northern Virginia community college.

Jill Biden wearing a Dolce & Gabbana dress and matching mask for the final presidential debate. (Photo Credit: Getty Images)

While President-elect Joe Biden talks about bringing the country back together in unity, his wife Jill’s sartorial choices back up that rhetoric. Her fashion choices reflect a softer, gentle tone that has been missing from the White House. Unlike Melania Trump who is known for wearing austere, minimalistic, utilitarian fashions (who can ever forget her “I really don’t care, do you”?  jacket and the Alexander McQueen army green military suit she wore to the Republican National Convention)? Dr. Jill dresses at the opposite end of the spectrum, as she prefers feminine silhouettes, bold patterns, and rich, deep jewel tones. The one thing she does share with Melania is a love of statement heels. Dr. Jill has rocked Valentino heels and Stuart Weitzman ‘Vote’ knee-high boots — but unlike Melania, Dr. Jill has worn them for state events, not for humanitarian relief efforts.

Also, unlike Melania Trump and Michelle Obama before her, Dr. Jill’s sartorial looks have been low key and much more representative of how American women actually dress. The incoming first lady’s aesthetic has been understated, elegant, and at times preppy. She tends to favor flattering shift dresses and wrap dresses in bold hues, and with just a quick change of her shoes, these looks are perfect transition pieces for a day in the classroom to an evening at a political event for her husband.

Jill Biden wearing Alexandra Posen’s VOTE mask while campaigning in Texas. (Photo Credit: AP)Only time will tell if Dr. Biden will continue playing it safe with her fashion choices once she is in the White House and whether Kamala will stick to wearing only suits, but one thing is for sure, American designers are lining up. Young designers especially are hoping that they’ll be given a chance to shine just as Michelle Obama did for so many during the 8 years she was in the White House. We are all hoping that both Dr. Jill will Kamala will throw their muscle behind sustainable brands. Something tells us they will. Keep your eye on this space.

We thought it would be fun to make some sartorial recommendations for Dr. Jill:

A look from Rodarte’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Rodarte)

A look from Lila Rose’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Lela Rose)

 

A look from Carolina Herrera’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Carolina Herrera)

 

A look from Ulla Johnson’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Ulla Johnson)

 

A look from Thakoon’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Thakoon)

 

A look from Brock Collection’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Brock Collection)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from Nili Lotan’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Nili Lotan)

KAM STYLE

Vice President-elect Kamala Harris also took the stage on November 7th, and emphasized the promise of America in her speech. She wore an ivory-colored Carolina Herrera pantsuit and a silk bow blouse accessorized with an American flag lapel pin. Kamala, known as Momala by her step children, spoke positively about what the future may hold and encouraged children to imagine themselves in ways that others might not yet recognize as achievable. The VP-elect also credited all of the women who went before her, “I stand on their shoulders,” she said of those who fought for voting rights at the beginning of the 20th century, and of the “new generation” that had exercised those rights last week.

The color white has long been associated with the women’s suffrage movement, adopted as a symbol of moral purity alongside green for hope and purple for dignity. The hue also signified their ethos of nonviolence, an olive branch to those threatened by their then-radical calls for political equality.

While the ivory Carolina Herrera suit that Kamala Harris wore to address the nation on November 7th was one of her best sartorial choices to date, we are secretly hoping that Harris will take a more fashionable approach. As the first female to ever hold such an important role, it has to be hard for her when making fashion choices. That’s why the Power Suit is the safest way to go! Or is it?

On the campaign trail, Harris stuck to her uniform of polished pantsuits and her favorite accessory – pearls, but while the traditional attire for female politicians can be a bit bland (think Hillary and her pantsuits), we would love to see Harris take a bolder approach to power dressing.

The VP-elect hails from California, so her laid back sensibility comes through in her sartorial choices. When the Senator stepped off a plane to assess the damages of the wildfires in Fresno, California, she wore a simple olive jacket, jeans, a white t-shirt and Timberland boots – American women everywhere connected to her, because this is how American women dress!

Kamala Harris’s love of Converse sneakers. (Photo Credit: Elle)

Kamala’s sartorial choices so far have revolved around Converse sneakers and have gained plenty of traction with younger voters. For Harris, fashion does not define who she is, its her fearless approach to politics and policies that define her.

To help get Kamala out of her pantsuit rut, we are suggesting a few day looks from the spring 2021 collections that we think would look fabulous on her:

A look from Christopher John Rogers’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Christopher John Rogers)

 

A look from Michael Kors’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Michael Kors)

 

A look from Gabriela Hearst’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Gabriela Hearst)

 

A look from Altuzarra’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Altuzarra)

 

A look from St. John’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of St. John)

 

A look from Adam Lippes’ Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Adam Lippes)

 

A look from Khaite’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Khaite)

 

A look from Tory Burch’s Spring 2021 Collection. (Photo Courtesy of Tory Burch)

SO TELL US, WHAT LOOKS WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE ON OUR INCOMING FIRST LADY DR. JILL BIDEN AND VICE PRESIDENT-ELECT KAMALA HARRIS?

MASK UP: NEW YORK STATE’S MASK INITIATIVE TAKES A CHARITABLE TURN

(Left) #MaskUp campaign; (Right) Gov. Cuomo and Kennedy Cuomo. (Photo Credit: Instagram)

In a press briefing in Albany, N.Y. on October 26th, New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, in partnership with his daughter Mariah Kennedy Cuomo and The RealReal, revealed that the state chose over two dozen New York-based designers to create masks as part of its “Mask Up” campaign that will be sold exclusively on The RealReal (a luxury consignment shop that is both online and also has several brick-and-mortar locations). The campaign will benefit COVID-19 relief efforts and build awareness of the importance and need to wear masks. We still can’t understand why people can’t do this. It’s to save lives, people! It’s not rocket science?

This is called…Leadership

According to the official New York State Governor’s website, the “Mask Up” campaign will raise funds for communities impacted by COVID-19 by donating mask profits to three charities working in New York and across the country to help people in need – Feeding America, Nurse Heroes and the New York COVID Relief Fund. New York State and The RealReal will release a limited-edition “New York Tough” mask designed by acclaimed New York fashion label Public School as part of a five-week campaign featuring themed weekly mask drops.

Masks can be purchased on TheRealReal ecommerce site: https://www.therealreal.com/products?keywords=NY%20Mask

As we continue the fight against COVID-19, one fact is clear – masks help stop the spread and save lives. But it’s also clear that COVID fatigue is setting in and that presents its own challenge,” Governor Cuomo said. “We need to find creative ways to encourage people to wear masks. The Mask Up campaign leverages the creativity of the New York fashion community to help solve this public health challenge, while simultaneously raising funds for communities impacted by COVID-19. Take a look at the NY Tough masks and mask up. Together, we will beat this virus.”

(Right) Governor Andrew Cuomo and his daughter (Left)  Mariah Kennedy Cuomo. (Photo Credit: https://www.governor.ny.gov)

Gov. Cuomo said New York State was the first to mandate the wearing of masks and although compliance can’t be regulated, some 98 to 99 percent of people do wear face coverings. And they do it “because they’re smart,” he said, “and care about themselves and one another.”

To further promote the wearing of masks by partnering with designers and The RealReal is “a win-win across the board,” he continued, adding that the designers donated their time and designs to the cause.

At a time when so many are looking for a way to make a difference, wearing a mask has the power to save lives, and is a statement about who you are,” Mariah Kennedy Cuomo said. “The Mask Up campaign unites incredible designers who are deeply connected to New York, the fashion capital of our country. The RealReal and New York State are partnering to harness the power of the fashion community to convey a very simple, but critically important message: Mask Up. Stop the Spread. Save Lives! Our country is still battling COVID-19, and this campaign demonstrates that we can find fun, creative ways to make an impact.”

Last May, at the height of NY’s first COVID-19 surge, Gov. Cuome brought his daughter, Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, on board as an unpaid informal adviser to the New York State Department of Health. She headed a campaign to have people create 30-second videos encouraging the wearing of masks. The ads were voted on and the top five were used for public service announcements online, with the top vote-getter airing on television as well.

By combining the power of the fashion community’s influence with the leadership of Governor Cuomo and Mariah Kennedy Cuomo, we can be a collective force for good,” said Julie Wainwright, founder and CEO of The RealReal. “It’s our privilege to bring together such a diverse and talented group of New Yorkers to inspire people to wear a mask, while supporting the work of our charitable partners doing so much for communities impacted by COVID.”

In an interview with WWD, Wainwright, said Kennedy Cuomo, “has been such a force for driving dialogue about the importance of masking up during the pandemic. We were so impressed by her work with New York’s mask ad contest earlier this year. When she reached out with the idea of working together on a campaign we were thrilled to collaborate and help bring New York’s fashion community into the project. We’ve been working with so many designers this year to support their pivots to producing masks and we’re proud to be expanding that work with this campaign and giving back to communities who have been deeply impacted by COVID-19.”

A #MaskUp campaign will be shared on social channels by the state, The RealReal and the designers to encourage people to post a mask selfie, share why they mask up, and tag five friends to do the same.

The Mask Up campaign gives New York designers the ability to be creative and to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by designing cool masks, while concurrently raising funds for neighborhoods impacted by COVID-19.

Public School designers (Left) Maxwell Osborne and (right) Dao Yi Chow in their mask. (Photo Credit: Mask Up)

The campaign launched with fashion label Public School, which was founded in 2008 by Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne, both natives of New York City. The label is known for its ultra-cool, street-style sensibility. The designers have ambitious sustainability plans to produce many of their products from surplus, vintage, or recycled materials. The mask is a limited-edition black mask with white letters that read: “New York Tough.”

We are products of New York and represent the resilience and toughness of that New York spirit so it’s only right that we participated in this campaign,” said Public School’s Dao-Yi Chow & Maxwell Osborne, creative directors and co-founders. We wanted to design something that represented the power of the people coming together to fight for a common cause. New Yorkers have always had each other’s backs and that hasn’t changed for this pandemic.”

Every Monday for the next few weeks New York State and The RealReal will introduce new themed masks. Each of the five weekly drops has a theme inspired by one of New York’s core values: tough, smart, united, disciplined and love.  A few of the labels that are participating in this charitable campaign are: 3.1 Phillip Lim, 4SDESIGNS, Alejandra Alonso Rojas, Alice + Olivia, Altuzarra, Chromat, Collina Strada, Jonathan Cohen, KES, Mara Hoffman, Mi Jong Lee, Michael Kors, Nili Lotan, Noah, Prabal Gurung, Public School, Rag & Bone, Romeo Hunte, Ryan Roche, Sandy Liang, Studio 189, Tanya Taylor, Thom Browne, Victor Glemaud, and Zero + Maria Cornejo.

According to WWD, Julie Gilhart, chief development officer for Tomorrow London Ltd. was influential in putting the parties together to work on the project and getting the designers on board. “We wanted the group of designers to be a true cross section, from well-known designers like Thom Browne or Michael Kors to up-and-comers like 4S Designs to cult favorites like Noah and Nili Lotan. The Public School boys designed the iconic New York Tough mask and Victor Glemaud was inspired by the taxi drivers,” she said.

As with so many things during the pandemic, it’s hard to plan out time. You have to be quick on your feet and be able to pivot at a moment’s notice. I’m in awe of how all the designers took time to contribute. They carved out the time during wrapping up their selling season. I know they did because they wanted to help and see it as community service to their home, New York. Every designer had a very personal expression [as] to why making and wearing a mask was important to them,” added Gilhart.

Phillip Lim in his mask. (Photo Credit: Mask Up)

Phillip Lim, cofounder and designer of 3.1 Phillip Lim, felt strongly about participating in the Mask Up campaign. In a WWD interview, Lim stated, “I wear a mask not only to protect myself, but to protect others. Wearing a mask isn’t a political statement, it’s a simple way for us to show respect to our neighbors, our elders, the front-line workers, and everyone who is continuing to fight for the health and safety of our communities.”

Mara Hoffman in her mask. (Photo Credit: Mask Up)

Mara Hoffman, founder and designer of Mara Hoffman, agreed about the importance of masks, saying they are “for safety — not just for me, but for those who are most vulnerable. It is in the collective that we can overcome this pandemic and I take my role as an individual seriously in this moment.”

Tanya Taylor in her mask. (Photo Credit: Mask Up)

Contemporary designer Tanya Taylor told WWD: “I respect and follow the CDC guidelines and believe wearing a mask not only protects me but those more vulnerable around me. Wearing a mask felt weird at first, but it is a very small action we can all take to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infecting more people. I’ve embraced it as part of how I dress up every day — might as well have fun with it!”

Tell us, are you a masker or anti-masker and if so, why?

ANNOUNCING OUR NEW DIGITAL MARKETING SERIES


MEET YOUR NEW INSTRUCTOR: ROZA SALAHSHOUR

The University of Fashion is honored to add Roza Salahshour to our distinguished list of talented instructors.  Roza is a Digital Marketing Consultant & founder of Branderella, a 360° branding agency based in Paris.  She will be sharing her knowledge and expertise in our new Digital Fashion Marketing series. We are pleased to announce the launch of her first lesson, Introduction to Influencer Marketing.

Whether you are an established fashion brand or an aspiring fashionprenuer, knowing the ins and outs of digital marketing puts the power in your hands when launching your brand.

Roza began her career as a graphic and multimedia designer for tech startups before pursuing her interest in digital academically through a bachelor’s degree in Web Media technology (BSC), a  joint degree program between Staffordshire University UK, and Asia Pacific University, Kuala Lumpur.

During her studies abroad in Kuala Lumpur,  Roza had the opportunity to model part-time and participate in the marketing campaign for various fashion brands, including Tommy Hilfiger, JOGSHarper’s Bazaar & Bimba & Lola. In 2012 Roza took on the role of a fashion events coordinator launching & curating fashion shows for Harley Davidson & product shows for Laura Star through their Asian divisions.  In 2013 Roza co-founded MAVN Models designing and launching its digital presence before moving to Paris to pursue her MBA in fashion, luxury & Cosmetics at IFA PARIS. 

After short assignments for COTY Beauty & Iman cosmetics, Roza was sought out by various business schools to share her diverse international experience at the intersection of fashion, technology & business.

To date, Roza has served a variety of different universities including IPI (Group IGS), IPSSI, a digital marketing school, INGETIS, a BTS web & engineering school, Toulouse Business School, GBSB Business school, Madrid  and CIEE Paris, a study abroad Institution for American students wishing to explore Paris.

During her time at INGETIS, Roza created the Introduction to Technoprenuership Program for undergraduate students in Web Development and Networking curating a range of mini-modules including Startup Universe, Cash Cow & Founder’s Story.

At IPI, Roza designed and founded the Introduction to Digital Marketing Program along with practical coursework and online examination.  For Toulouse business school, she designed the Marketing Exchange Evolution program, a multi-faceted, interdisciplinary module at the cross-section of luxury, digital, and entrepreneurship.

At GBSB Business School she teaches Social Media & Public Relations for master’s students in luxury & business.

As a creative individual passionate about digital technology, Roza enjoys creating innovative modules that help creative enterprises tap into the exciting opportunities in the digital ecosphere!

Email:  Info@rozasalahshour.com

LinkedIn:  http://linkedin.com/in/rozasalahshour

Website:  https://www.branderella.com/

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CAN SELF-TAUGHT FASHION DESIGNERS MAKE IT TO THE TOP?

Designer Matthew M. Williams & wife Jennifer (Photo credit: Alyx Instagram)

At UoF, we get lots of inquiries from our subscribers asking, “is it possible to make it to the top as a designer in the fashion industry as a self-taught designer or without a formal degree? The answer is yes!

Meet Matthew M. Williams, who on June 15th was named creative director at Givenchy, the 68-year old French heritage brand, founded by Hubert de Givenchy in 1952. Upon Givenchy’s  retirement (1995), the house has had a parade of notable creative directors, John Galliano, Alexander McQueen, Julien McDonald, Ricardo Tisci and Clare Wright Keller.

So how Williams an admitted self-taught designer land such a plum job? Let’s take a look at his backstory.

No Fashion School Training

Born in Chicago in 1986, Williams was brought up in Pismo Beach surrounded by California skate culture. With an appreciation for the arts but nothing more than a high school sculpture class under his belt, he enrolled at University of California, Santa Barbara to study art, but dropped out after only one semester. Finding a sales position at Maxfield’s, a high-end L.A. boutique, he was exposed to some of the best designer brands like, Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, Raf Simmons, Rick Owens and Commes des Garçons. These edgy brands helped shape his appreciation for tailoring and craftsmanship. 

Networking is Key

Eventually, Williams moved to New York to attend fashion school, but was rejected by Parsons. A self-confessed club kid, Williams got lucky. He met and dated Lady Gaga and began collaborating on her videos, stage shows and her on and offstage costumes. Once in that circle, Williams was able to meet famed photographer, Nick Knight, who worked with generations of fashion talent, including Yohji Yamamoto and Alexander McQueen.

Hard Work & Passion

Williams met Kanye West and became art director for his touring productions and album designs. It was there that he witnessed Kanye’s work ethic, his drive and his passion. While at Kanye, Williams was introduced to Virgil Abloh, Kanye’s then creative director (before Abloh founded Off-White and became creative director at Louis Vuitton).

By being in Kanye’s inner circle, Williams, Abloh, along with Heron Preston and Justin Saunders, founded a self-styled art and DJ collective called Been Trill, and created a social media hyped streetwear line with tons of celebrity connections. However short-lived that venture was, it lasted long enough to help define Williams’ aesthetic grounded in luxe streetwear.

Getting the Right Backer Helps

With help from 30-year streetwear veteran Luca Benini, founder of Slam Jam, Williams opened his NYC studio in 2015 on St. Mark’s Place and debuted his haute streetwear line, 1017 ALYX 9SM, named for Williams’ birth date 10/17, his daughter Alyx and 9SM, his St. Mark’s address.

His look? Tailored suits & trousers, chunky boots, signature Six Flags-inspired rollercoaster buckle belts and cross body bags, all workwear-inspired with street-smart, hard-edge military-esque undertones.

ALYX womenswear (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX womenswear (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX Six Flags rollercoaster-inspired belt buckle (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX mid-sock boot (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

In 2017, Williams added menswear and accessories to the mix. He has also done collaborations with Nike, Dior, Moncler, and Mackintosh.

ALYX men’s suit and matching crossover bag (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

ALYX jewelry (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

Williams x Nike collaboration in 2019 (Photo credit: alyxstudio Instagram)

Being at the Right Place at the Right Time

In 2016, Williams got on the radar of Sidney Toledano, the chief executive of the LVMH Fashion Group, the largest luxury conglomerate in the world, when he was chosen as one of 8 finalists for the LVMH Prize. In another strategic move, Williams debuted his collection at Paris Fashion Week in 2018 to enormous hype. In 2019, he created a buckle for his friend Kim Jones artistic director of another LVMH holding, Christian Dior Men.

Apparently LVMH was mining for another master of the high-low street-luxe hybrid for their Givenchy label, like that of Abloh and Jones. Alas, Williams fit the bill. According to a recent article in The New York Times, “the future of luxury will have less to do with a designer’s ability to cut a pattern than their ability to amalgamate the broader cultural moment.” Here at UoF we say a designer should be able to do both!

As formally-trained designer myself and the owner of my eponymous clothing line in the 80s, and now founder of UoF, I believe that there is no single sure fire way of making it in the fashion industry. However, I think there are a combination of things and attributes that are key to making it in our industry: A Good Taste Level, A Unique Design Philosophy, Hard Work, Ability to Network, Business Savvy, Appreciation for the Craft and last but not least…Luck!

Other Self-taught Famous Designers Who’ve Succeeded  

In the researching and writing of my book, Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry, Second Edition, I was surprised to learn of so many famous designers in history, who had either never attended fashion school, or did but dropped out. One thing is for sure though, an appreciation for the craft is critical, whether you learn it at fashion school or via the University of Fashion.

The list is long (91) so here goes:

André Courrèges

Anne Marie Beretta

Azzedine Alaïa

Bob Mackie

Bonnie Cashin

Calvin Klein

Carlos Miele

Carol Lim & Humberto Leon (Opening Ceremony)

Carolina Herrera

Charles Frederick Worth

Charles James

Charlotte Ronson

Christian Dior

Christian Lacroix

Christopher Bailey

Coco Chanel

Cristóbal Balenciaga

Diane Von Furstenberg

Donatello Versace

Eileen Fisher

Elie Tahari

Elsa Schiaparelli

Emanuel Ungaro

Emilio Pucci

Franco Moschino

Geoffrey Beene

Gianfranco Ferre

Gianni Versace

Giorgio Armani

Giorgio di Sant’ Angelo

Gloria Vanderbilt

Guy Laroche

Guy Paulin

Halston

Hedi Slimane

Hubert de Givenchy

Issey Miyake

Jean Muir

Jean Patou

Jean Paul Gaultier

Jeanne Lanvin

Jeanne Paquin

Jessica Simpson

Jil Sander

John Varvatos

Joseph Altazurra

Karl Lagerfeld

Kate and Laura Mulleavy (Rodarte)

Kenneth Cole

L’Wren Scott

Laura Ashley

Liliana Orcas Casabal (Morgane Le Fay)

Lily Daché

Lily Pulitzer

Liz Claiborne

Madame Grés

Madeleine Vionnet

Marcus Wainwright & David Neville (Rag & Bone)

Mary Kate & Ashley Olson (The Row)

Michael Kors

Miuccia Prada

Molyneux

Nina Ricci

Nino Cerutti

Oleg Cassini

Olivier Theyskens

Oscar de la Renta

Paco Rabanne

Paul Poiret

Pauline Trigére

Perry Ellis

Phillip Lim

Pierre Cardin

Rachel Roy

Raf Simons

Ralph Lauren

Rei Kawakubo (Comme des Garçons)

Richard Tyler

Ron Chereskin

Rudi Gernreich

Sir Hardy Amies

Sonia Rykiel

Thierry Mugler

Thom Browne

Tom Ford

Tommy Hilfiger

Tory Burch

Vera Wang

Victoria Beckham

Virgil Abloh

Vivienne Westwood

 

 

THE FASHION COMMUNITY REACTS TO SYSTEMIC RACISM

Protesters gather outside the White House. (Photo Credit: Jim Lo Scalzo for Shutterstock)

A once-in-a lifetime pandemic and a tanking global economy with millions of people out of work provided the backdrop for yet another unthinkable act of racism on May 25th as the world witnessed the senseless killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man at the hands of Minneapolis police. The public’s reaction was swift and decisive. Black Lives Matter!

Despite the pandemic (as of June 11th has caused over 417,829 deaths globally) people took to the streets in the U.S. and around the world in protest of systemic racism. Social media channels exploded and T-shirts were swiftly marketed with the tags:  #BlackLivesMatter, #BLM, #NoJusticeNoPeace, #anti_racist and #icantbreathe.

It didn’t take long for the fashion industry to react, while at the same time, come under the microscope for its lack of diversity and sincerity. Could this moment in history be the  “sea change” that the world and the fashion industry has been waiting for?

Tuesday, June 2nd  became #BlackoutTuesday, whereby all brand/designer social media (SM) users posted a black box and refrained from posting promotional content or selfies, as a way of mourning and calling attention to systematic racism.

On June 3rd, Pulitzer prize winning writer, Robin Givhan of  The Washington Post, herself a woman of colorsent a tweet that reminded the industry of their lack of diversity.

 

Then, on June 4th, the CFDA (Tom Ford and Steven Kolb) published a letter listing initiatives that they planned to create systemic change: 1) create an in-house employment program charged with placing Black talent in all sections of the fashion business to help achieve a racially balanced industry. 2) place Black students in companies for mentorships and internships. 3) implement and make available to their members a Diversity and Inclusion training program 4) make immediate contributions and take up fundraising activities in support of charitable organizations aimed at equalizing the playing field for the Black community such as, but not limited to the NACCP and Campaign Zero – among others.

CFDA supports Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: CFDA)

Anna Wintour came out with an apology, for her ‘hurtful’ and ‘intolerant’ behavior at Vogue, (now that’s a first), while Andre Leon Talley challenged Wintour’s statement, citing the news of newly appointed Samira Nasr, the first Black female editor-in-chief of Harper’s Bazaar, as catalyst. In other publishing news, Refinery 29’s founder Christene Barberich stepped down as Editor-in-chief in response to accusations of racism and a toxic company culture, while Leandra Medine Cohen announced that she was stepping back from Man Repeller, after readers called her out for a lack of diversity in content and employees.

A June 10th Diet Prada Instagram post challenged retailer Anthropologie’s reaction to racism as ‘beige.’ The post prompted numerous comments that exposed the discriminatory practice of giving code names to POC (people of color) shoppers and lawsuits that called out certain brands and retailers guilty of the practice, such as Moschino, Versace, Anthropologie and Zara. Looks like Robin Givhan is right, the industry has a lot of soul-searching to do.

In the days following the murder of George Floyd, celebrities, athletes, and politicians all stood up and showed support for the Black Lives Matter movement. But, are these fashion brands and designers really showing their support or is it just a PR stunt? In an industry that prides itself on being global and multi-cultural, the fashion industry has a duty to its customers and society to use its privilege and power to drive systemic change and fight against racism. Right?

Victoria Beckham shows her support to Black Lives Matter. (Photo Credit: Victoria Beckham)

 

Actions speak loader than words. (Photo Credit: Fashion Nova Cares)

Most messages posted on social media were thoughtful and less PR-centric. However, Louis Vuitton was one of the first to come under fire from consumers. The company was criticized for the “tone deaf” launch of their new handbag line in the middle of the Black Lives Matter movement. Three days later, Louis Vuitton uploaded the following statement to the house’s 38.2 million Instagram followers alongside a video commissioned by men’s artistic director Virgil Abloh: “Make a change. Freedom from racism towards peace together. #BlackLivesMatter.”

Virgil Abloh, here at the 2019 CFDA Fashion Awards, has been ridiculed for a ‘measly’ donation to help Black Lives Matter protesters. (Photo Credit: GETTY IMAGES)

But Abloh was not forgiven so quickly. The designer, who is also known as the CEO and brainchild of streetwear giant Off-White, shared on his personal Instagram Stories that he made a $50 donation to Fempower, an organization that is helping arrested Black Lives Matter protesters with their legal expenses.

His followers were outraged. The designer’s estimate worth is over $4 million, and his measly $50 donation couldn’t even buy you an Off-White face mask.

One Twitter user wrote: “So Virgil really donated LESS THAN the equivalent of an Off-White keychain to the bail fund?? Smh wow. Don’t buy his trash, y’all.”

Virgil Abloh, creative director of Louis Vuitton Mens and Designer of Off-White, takes a stand against looters. (Photo Credit: Instagram)

Fashion’s Colin Kaepernick: Designer Kerby Jean-Raymond

Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer of Pyer Moss has always used his collections as a platform against injustices. Here are the bloody boots in his police brutality collection from his
spring 2016 runway. (Photo Credit: Joshua Lott for Getty Images)

On September 11, 2015 – Kerby Jean-Raymond staged a political commentary on police brutality and racism for his Pyer Moss spring 2016 runway show. His shows are and have been a call to action for the Black Lives Matter movement. In 2017, he focused on depression, both personal and cultural. Erykah Badu helped style that collection which brought to light things that keep us down, set to the sounds of a choir singing Future’s “Trap Niggas” and the Black National Anthem, (Lift Up Your Voice and Sing, written as a poem by NAACP leader James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and then set to music by his brother John Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954) in 1899.)

Protesters, Looting & Retailers

While most of the protesters were peaceful, there were agitators that caused chaos and the destruction of churches, monuments, car fires, and store lootings, unfortunately were part of it. No store was safe. Looters destroyed little mom and pop shops in their communities, as well as major department stores and luxury retail brands. Manhattan’s affluent Soho boutiques were ravaged. The city looked like a war zone with broken glass everywhere and boarded up storefronts.

Looters hit luxury retailers, like Chanel and Rolex, in lower Manhattan.( Photo Credit: New York Magazine)

But even with the rioting and looting, designers and brands still supported the Black Lives Matter movement; brands like Nike, Adidas, and Michael Kors lent swift public support to the protests. Plenty of other designers followed, although some lagged in their response and consumers took note.

Michael Kors supporting Black Lives Matter. (Photo credit: @MichaelKors Twitter Account)

 

Stylist Law Roach and Zendaya. Roach took action by starting a fund with his own money to rebuild Black businesses that were destroyed in the protests. (Photo Credit: Teen Vogue)

Jon Batiste (band leader for Stay Human & the  Late Show with Stephen Colbert) at the ‘We Are’ March, New York. City (Photo Credit: Stephen Lovekin for Shutterstock)

The protests succeeded in sending the fashion industry a message loud and clear. Consumers, especially Millennials and Gen Zers are the ones to watch. They are faithful to brands that they believe are making a difference. This cohort are focused on movements that work toward the realization of a world where all members of a society, regardless of race, ethnicity, sexual preference or religious background, have basic human rights and equal access to the benefits of society. Just as movements of the 20th century spurred change (Woman’s Suffrage, Women’s Liberation, Civil Rights, Anti War, We Are and Gay Rights, to name a few), so too will the 21st century bring change. Movements like Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Times Up, Equal Pay For Equal Work, Gender Equality,  Gun Safety, Marriage Equality, Occupy, Climate Change, Criminal Justice Reform, Indigenous Peoples, Immigration Reform, Pro Life/Pro Choice and the Anti-Racist movement will spur brands into action.

In the world of social media transparency, the fashion industry will have to do more than just speak up for the Black Lives Matter movement. They’ll need to advocate and implement change within their companies and provide support to Black-owned businesses.

Funding opportunities are a great way for the fashion industry to support the movement. Shockingly, to this day, Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton) and Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing are still the only Black creative directors at major brands (an abundance, compared to high fashion’s zero BAME CEOs) and Edward Enninful, the only Black editor-in-chief (British Vogue) of a major fashion magazine, until the recent appointment of Samira Nasr announced on June 9th (Harper’s Bazaar).  

Edward Enninful Vogue editor-in-chief (Photo credit: Hypebae)  Samira Nasr editor-in-chief Harper’s Bazaar (Photo credit: The Cut)

On June 10th, Harper’s Bazaar published a list of 10 Black-owned fashion brands to support and invest in.  Other ‘call-to-action’ lists have emerged encouraging consumers on how to support local Black-owned businesses, such as grocery stores, hair salons, clothing stores, etc. Another way to support Back-owned businesses is to write positive reviews of those businesses, follow them on social media, engage in their posts, sign up for their newsletters and tell your friends and family to do the same.

The Industry Puts Their Money Where Their Mouth Is

The trendy direct-to-consumer beauty brand Glossier announced that it would donating $500,000 to organizations fighting racial injustice and another $500,000 to BAME-owned beauty companies. (BAME stands for Black, Asian and minority ethnic).

On the brand’s social media channels, Gucci posted a poem by Cleo Wade, a Black artist who also co-chairs the brand’s Changemakers Council, a group of community leaders backed by $5 million in charitable funding established in the wake of Gucci’s blackface sweater scandal: “We need to end racism. Start by healing it in your own family.”

Gucci has also established a fellowship program which is intended to recruit underrepresented talent from fashion schools for full-time positions. But fashion must make measurable commitments to hire Black people to their senior ranks and not just in their lower-level positions.

Aurora James, a designer and creative director of the shoe label Brother Vellies, created the “15 Percent Pledge,” which calls on major retailers to give that amount of shelf space to Black-owned businesses. (Fifteen percent of the United States population is Black.)

A lookbook image from Brother Vellies. (Photo Credit: Brother Vellies)

James is calling on Whole Foods, Target, Walmart, Sephora, Saks, Net-a-Porter, Barnes & Noble and Home Depot to take part.She hopes that her 15 Percent Pledge will “deliver more money to Black communities.”

Amazon stands with the Black Community. (Photo Credit: Amazon)

Sportswear giant Nike committed $40 million over the next four years to support the Black community in the United States on behalf of its Nike, Jordan Brand and Converse labels. The funds will support organizations focused on social justice, education and addressing racial inequality in America, Nike chief executive officer John Donahoe said in a message to the company’s staff.

Internally, Donahoe said, the priority is to “get our own house in order. Simply put, we must continue to foster and grow a culture where diversity, inclusion and belonging is valued and is real. Nike needs to be better than society as a whole. Our aspiration is to be a leader.”

He added: “Systemic racism and the events that have unfolded across America over the past few weeks serve as an urgent reminder of the continued change needed in our society. We know Black Lives Matter. We must educate ourselves more deeply on the issues faced by Black communities and understand the enormous suffering and senseless tragedy racial bigotry creates.”

Nike and Michael Jordan speak out against racism. (Photo Credit: US Magazine)

In a WWD article, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, founders and creative directors of Proenza Schouler said in a statement, “We unequivocally believe any form of racism or discrimination has no place in our word and we proudly stand with the entire Black Lives Matter movement. We affirm our commitment to supporting the entire Black community, both in terms of what we share with the world externally and how our organization is operated internally.” The designers said they are supporting blacklivesmatter.com, naacpldf.org, blackvisionsmn.org, joincampaignzero.org, libertyfund.nyc, and brooklynbailfund.org/donate.

WWD also reported that PVH took part in the National Day of Mourning, which coincided with the memorial services for George Floyd. PVH North America associates from its retail stores, offices and warehouses were invited to observe eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence Thursday, June 4th at 2 p.m. ET during Floyd’s memorial service. In partnership with BRAAVE (Building Resources for African American Voices and Empowerment), PVH has created a task force inclusive of leadership, HR, Inclusion & Diversity, The PVH Foundation, legal and corporate responsibility teams to ensure they are taking the right steps to make the most impact. The PVH Foundation is donating $100,000 to the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, which supports racial justice through advocacy, impact litigation and education and seeks to achieve structural changes to advance democracy, eliminate disparities and achieve racial justice. It is also donating $100,000 to The National Urban League.

The PVH Foundation will also match 100 percent of North America corporate associate charitable donations throughout the month of June. The company has also compiled resources to help educate itself about racism and bias and will be sharing it with its employees. This includes an Anti-Racism Resource Guide, Associate Check-in Guide, PVH U course offerings, videos, podcasts and articles.

First memorial service for George Floyd held in Minneapolis. (Photo Credit: Fox17)

On June 4th, Columbia Sportswear temporarily closed 95 of its reopened retail stores from 1:00-3:00 PM CDT during George Floyd’s memorial service. “We stand against racism in all its forms, but in this moment, we want to be clear that we are proud to say black lives matter. George Floyd’s life mattered,” the company said in an internal memo from the company’s executive team provided to WWD.

In addition, Columbia said it will make donations to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the Marshall Project “to advance our country’s understanding of racism and its root causes and to promote equal justice and opportunity.” It did not disclose the amount. It also said it will double match employee donations to any non-profits focusing on addressing racism, up to $1,000 through the end of July. It then provided a list of organizations such as,  Black Lives Matter, Color of Change, Equal Justice Initiative and the National Urban League.

Tory Burch is making changes within her company. The designer is offering counseling for Black employees and workshops on discussing race and bias for all employees. The company provided a list of resources to help employees educate themselves and their families about race in our society. The company will also work with outside moderators and continue its public work through the Tory Burch Foundation on unconscious bias. The company’s Embrace Ambition Summit focuses on shattering stereotypes and combatting bias in all of its forms, including racial discrimination, by looking at the impact of unconscious bias.

The Kering umbrella, which owns Gucci, Saint Laurent, Bottega Veneta, Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen, Brioni, Boucheron, Pomellato, Dodo, Queelin, Ulysse Nardin, Girard-Perregaux and Kering Eyewear, have contributed to organizations focused on combating systemic racism and ending police violence toward the Black community across the United States. Kering has also made donations to the NAACP and Campaign Zero, an organization that aims to reduce police violence in the U.S.

And the list continues to grow every day as designers are looking to change the culture of the industry as a whole. By engaging in conversations that address bias and stereotypes in the workplace, by educating employees on how they can support communities and organizations in the fight against racial injustice, by hiring talented Black designers, buyers and CEO’s, as well as supporting businesses owned by Black entrepreneurs. We can all do our part in the fight towards making the fashion industry and the world an inclusive place for all.

It’s time for fashion brands to do more than just make statements. They must commit to doing the hard work it’s going to take to combat racism. Remember, racism is not just an American issue, it’s a global issue.

Juneteenth (Photo credit: mosaictemplarscenter.com) Juneteenth Flag (Photo credit: crreaearch.com)

As we approach Juneteenth (Emancipation Day/Black Independence Day) we will again be reminded of racial injustice. It commemorates the day that Union Army Maj. Gen. Gordon Granger rode into Galveston, Texas on June 19, 1865, and read federal orders that all previously enslaved purple were free (2 year after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation). Maybe the campaign to make this day a federal holiday in the U.S.,  instead of a state holiday in only 46 states will come to fruition? Juneteenth celebrations are also held in other countries around the world, including Ghana, Honduras, Japan, Taiwan and Trinidad and Tobago.

University of Fashion has proudly donated to Black Lives Matter, NAACPLDF, Campaign Zero and the Liberty Fund. We will continue to promote Black fashion, fashion designers and instructors on our site and on our social media platforms. Together we can make a difference.

Black Lives Matter protests in Paris, France. (Photo Credit: Alfonso Jimenez for Shutterstock)

 So tell us, what are you doing to make a difference?