How Maxwell Osborne Thinks Fashion Could Actually Help Black Lives Matter
In the wake of the recent shootings of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, the fashion industry has, for the most part, stayed silent.
Despite frequently being influenced by black culture, from models walking down the runway with cornrows to entire shows dedicated to black women, major industry players continue to stay mum on all matters related to the mistreatment of black people across the world.
But now, people within the industry are speaking up.
On Thursday, Maxwell Osborne, the co-founder of Public School and co-creative director of DKNY, penned an open letter for W magazine calling for the fashion industry to step up and support the Black Lives Matter movement in any way it can.
"I write this open letter to encourage the fashion industry to not just continue the dialogue of race in America, but to do something about it," he wrote. "Fashion exists in a world of make believe. Our job is to offer an escape from everyday life and a fantasy of glamour and beautiful clothes. It's easy to forget the real world with its very real problems. But it doesn't have to be that way."
"Fashion is always at its best when it looks outside of itself for inspiration and holds up a mirror to society," he continued. "Sometimes we do that on the runway and sometimes when we come together as an industry and take up important causes, like so many of our peers have and continue to do with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS."
Osborne thinks the fashion industry can help the Black Lives Matter movement by amplifying its cause. The fashion industry has a massive platform, from runway shows to campaigns. Just like designers have come together to create garments or even entire runway shows in support of breast cancer and HIV/AIDS research, they could do the same for BLM. All they need to do is go out and seek a little bit of self-education.
"Stand with Black Lives Matter," he wrote. "Go out and educate yourself and learn how you can help and join the conversation as an active participant and not just as a passive, if well-meaning, observer. Encourage diversity on your runways and campaigns. Empower your social media fans to raise their voices. Use your designs for the public good. Attend a protest and see change in action. Raise awareness — it's not as empty a gesture as it may seem — and others will follow your lead."
Osborne's letter comes just days after Hannah Stoudemire organized a Black Lives Matter rally outside of New York Fashion Week: Men's on Tuesday. Stoudemire, who works for Lanvin, had been thinking of organizing one for a while now, and the industry's lack of action in response to the recent shootings is what pushed her over the edge.
"I just want the fashion industry and people in general — the majority of the people represented here today — to acknowledge us," Stoudemire told Fashionista. "I say this time and time again: They acknowledge black culture, they use it to their advantage, use it on the runways."
Just hours after her rally, the Council of Fashion Designers of America, which organizes NYFW: Men's, publicly showed their support of BLM. So with Osborne, a hugely respected designer in the industry, now speaking up, who knows what change will come next.