After wrapping up an immaculate SS20 show for Pyer Moss, Kerby-Jean Raymond had an unsettling occurrence with BoF which led him to voicing his respectful, yet truthful opinion about the Business of Fashion and the fashion industry as a whole: “Diversity and inclusion is a trend to these folks.”
Kerby Jean-Raymond wrote a piece on Medium.com called the “Business of Fashion 500 is now 499” which states how the designer no longer wishes to be associated with the notable publications’ index of influential people in fashion industry. This was brought on due to events which occurred at BoF Voices and BoF 500 Gala:
In 2018, Jean-Raymond was invited to speak at BoF Voices to share his story about the creation of Pyer Moss and how he became such figurehead in the industry. Originally, he was told he was going to be doing a solo panel but to his disappointment, Jean-Raymond was told at the last minute that he would be doing a group panel which he assumed was their plan all along. He agreed out of respect for the two other Black designers with whom he shared the panel with, LaQuan Smith and Patrick Robinson. He viewed group panels as another reason to group all the Black people in fashion into one category. Jean-Raymond believes each of them has a different story to be told which deserves a solo platform that White counterparts receive. The evening ended terribly due to a “Salon” conversation which Kerby dubbed as “heated and problematic“, causing him and a few friends to cut the trip short 2 days early.
Following the trip, Editor-In-Chief of the Business of Fashion, Imran Amed, reached out to Jean-Raymond apologizing and also, selecting him as one of three to cover the BoF 500 magazine. The two shared countless phone calls as Imran gathered insight from Kerby on “diverse” people to include on the list, Kerby’s upcoming plans, and lots more. Well, Amed gathered all he needed to ultimately copy and “appropri-paste”. After their last meeting, Imran expressed how they were “going to go a different route with the cover” which left Kerby feeling “played” once again.
Despite his instinct to stay home, Kerby went to the BoF 500 Gala only to be confronted by a Black choir. On top of that, EIC Imran Amed gives a shoutout to Olivier Rousteing, Pierpaolo Picolli, and others (not Kerby) for “inspiring” them for this year’s cover. The icing on the cake followed this moment as the Black choir returned to the stage along with Imran Amred dancing like Kirk Franklin…he and his friends left this event as well, with the quickness I might add.
And now, we are here reading Kerby’s piece, understanding his frustration, and also realizing that this is something the industry needed to hear from a Black fashion designer. We have been hearing the rumor about diversity and inclusion being a trend, but we still wish to think that some part of it is untrue. Inclusion in the industry goes as far as the runway and advertising and then, it stops. They love us for aesthetics, but they don’t want us behind the scenes making the real change happen. Kerby did something most highly positioned Black fashion professionals won’t do: spoke, unfiltered with no regrets. Black creatives in the industry carry that fear of being blacklisted or developing a tainted image for speaking up. We truly cannot let things like this continue to slide.
As for these White-owned corporate companies, please kindly take Kerby’s advice and “explore your own culture, religion and origins” or learn to pay homage without excluding and exploiting us in the process.
As for Black people in the fashion industry, we need to take three things away from Kerby Jean-Raymond tonight and that is: speak your truth, go with your gut, and create your own Business of Fashion where Diversity and Inclusion is already a trend but will remain a classic.
As a closing remark, I would like to quote Kerby Jean-Raymond and say, “But — me getting checks is not going to stop me from checking you.”