If the fashion industry’s wide variety of responses to our current—and very crucial—racial conversation have revealed nothing else, it’s that some folks were woefully unprepared to engage in this much-needed dialogue. In some cases, watching companies scramble to find the appropriate response or redress has been nothing more than been clear confirmation that there was never any intention of including a diverse scope of voices; there had to be a bottom line-based imperative to compel consideration and action.
But luxury label juggernaut Kering (which owns Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, and Bottega Veneta, among others) may have been well ahead of the curve of our current racial crisis, perhaps taking a cue from one of its holdings, Gucci, which has been reckoning with its diversity issues since early 2019. As W magazine reports, in 2019, Kering set its sights on a partnership with one of the rising and most conscious stars of the fashion world, Pyer Moss founder and creative director Kerby Jean-Raymond. According to the magazine, the two entities will partner on a new, “incubator-esque program” set to launch in 2021.
[It] was this Thursday that Kering’s CEO and Chairman François-Henri Arnault announced his unequivocal support for Raymond and his latest fashion foray, Your Friends in New York. There isn’t much in the way of specifics just yet, but Raymond is clearly stepping into a different world from Pyer Moss. Your Friends in New York describes itself as a “community-focused platform” aimed at addressing the rapid evolutions of the fashion and retail industries, incorporating music, wellness, philanthropy, and art.
The magazine goes on to explain that the format of Your Friends in New York (a moniker which coincidentally currently adorns the postcard-like hangtags on Pyer Moss apparel) is intended “to create an ‘ecosystem of creativity that reimagines how consumers discover and interact with brands.” It will also encourage emerging designers to do the same, “to empower the next generation of innovators,” reads its sole post on Instagram.
Whatever that means, we’re here for it. Unsurprising to those familiar with Jean-Raymond’s proud place in the “for us, by us” Black designer tradition, there will also be a community component, which aims at initiatives “like providing mental health services to children and public housing residents,” writes W.
So far, Your Friends in New York sound like good friends to have.