“I thought you had to be a rapper to make clothes,” Kerby Jean-Raymond told Business of Fashion Sunday night after his latest runway presentation, staged at the Kings Theatre in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. The designer went on to share that he used to work across the street from the historic theater, renovated and reopened in 2015, at a shoe store called Ragga Muffin.
Jean-Raymond didn’t grow up to become a rapper; instead, he’s a CFDA award-winning designer, founder of Pyer Moss, and a newly minted creative director at Reebok. But he did team up with Sean Combs—and namely, the early aughts urban fashion stalwart known as Sean John—for his latest collection for Pyer Moss. The collaboration rounds out a trio of tributes to classic black-owned brands that previously included Cross Colours and FUBU.
Fittingly, music was the message at the Kings Theatre on Sunday; piano and guitar motifs were present throughout the vibrantly colored Spring-Summer 2020 collection—and on stage, as Pyer Moss’ presentation once again featured live music. The collection, which ran the gamut from Pyer Moss x Reebok-branded sportswear (and an instant cult-classic tee that reads “Vote or Die, for Real This Time”) to gorgeously draped, strong-shouldered gowns we’re hoping to see on brown-skinned celebs next awards season, was titled “Sister.” The title and theme were a tribute to Sister Rosetta Tharpe, “the queer black woman who invented rock-and-roll in the 1940s but is rarely credited with having done so,” reports BoF. “It was rock-and-roll fashion if rock-and-roll had ‘stayed black,’ Jean-Raymond said.”
As for returning to the neighborhood of his youth, Jean-Raymond, who has been centering the black experience in his work throughout the entirety of Pyer Moss’ existence, reportedly dug even deeper, confronting his own troubled history with East Flatbush to affirm the community there.
“I’ve been so traumatized in this neighborhood for the past 18 years. I’ve been robbed here, I’ve been stabbed here, I’ve had fights here,” he told BoF. “Now, I wanted to make it clear to people who are still here—and have made the place better and made their lives here—that I’m not afraid of home. Whatever those traumas were that were inflicted upon me don’t hurt me anymore, and they can’t hurt us anymore. Wherever you came from, don’t fear it.”
The Pyer Moss Spring-Summer 2020 collection is below.