A question for the fashion world: Who do we love, who do we wear? »
The Brave Gentleman himself!
Meave and I had to pleasure of attending the recent Brave Gentleman Fashion Week pop-up event at the Alexander Gray Associates gallery. To kick off the event, Joshua Katcher gave a talk about fashion and animals. Turns out, not only has Joshua been teaching a course at Parsons, he’s got a book in the works! The book will discuss the role of animals in fashion and the talk was a bit of a preview of what’s to come.
We’ve all heard the question, “why love one, but eat the other?" But, addressing the world of fashion, Joshua poses a different question: who do we love, who do we wear?
This is the image that started it all. A woman, adorned in fur, is also covered in kittens. Then Joshua showed us image after image from fashion spreads throughout history with this same trope: women in furs, posed with (usually young and adorable) living animals. I loved the way Joshua phrased it; on the one hand, we have these sweet animals we can all fawn over, and on the other hand there is an animal “who has disappeared in the fashion object.” People don’t even see the animal. It’s just leather, fur, etc.
Of course this brings us to the cognitive dissonance we come across daily with people and what they choose to eat. But Joshua points out, that same cognitive dissonance shows up in fashion over and over. He even had an old fashion photo of a woman with a pet skunk…wearing a dead skunk fur!
The talk was great and I can’t wait for the book to come out! I might break my strict “ew, books!” policy just for this occasion. After Joshua spoke, we all got to see his latest collection. As always, the garments aren’t just vegan and beautiful, they are environmentally friendly and sweatshop-free.
Photo by Damani Moyd Photography.
Photo by Damani Moyd Photography. From the left: Tyler James, model; Alexander Gray and David Cabrera, co-founders Alexander Gray Associates Gallery; Joshua Katcher, Brave GentleMan; Andre Watson and Declan Cullen, models, Q Model Management.
The above jacket was the star of the night! As Alexander Gray Associates are big supporters of the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, Brave Gentleman created this vegan, one-of-a-kind cow print biker jacket for the gallery to sell and donate the proceeds to WFAS. The jacket is made from super hi-tech recycled ultrasuede and priced at $1000. I’m not certain if it’s still available, but if you’re at all interested, I would contact Brave Gentleman asap.
And what would a fancy vegan event be without a fancy vegan spread? NOTHING! Luckily, Brave Gentleman understands. We got to try Miyoko Schinner’s new vegan cheese line AND go to town on some vegan macaron’s by Sweet Maresa’s! The cheese was amazing and the macarons were like awesome brownies with cream in the middle.
Basically, Meave and I are dead from over vegan stimulation. RIP, us. All I ask now is that you bury me in the latest Brave Gentleman and tell my mother I said, “it was totally worth it!”
Fashion Loves Animals was a huge success! Let’s look at pictures! »
I attended Farm Sanctuary’s Fashion Loves Animals event this past weekend, they were honoring one of my favorite people: Leanne of Vaute Couture! As we arrived, I was quickly given a shot of asparagus soup (pictured above) made by new celebrity chef Jay Astafa! I was completely stoked since I had missed his popup dinner. I was also stoked because the soup was delicious!
Here’s Jay prepping behind the scenes.
Now, on to the Vaute fashion show!
Yes, lovely outfit. More importantly: OMG what a cute dog! And all the pups were up for adoption. No but really, the clothes were lovely. And I love these shoes by Love is Mighty. They’re made of old candy wrappers!
Notice the Brave GentleMan kicks.
I love this dress. There were new versions of this dress I’d seen at Vaute’s fashion week show—now it comes in lots of pretty floral patters! Leanne said they are at the Vaute Couture store now. Yay!
Beautiful picture of the back of this dress by me.
This puppy stole the show of course. Because PUPPY!
Beautiful picture of the end of the show by me. There’s Leanne with models in tow.
Here’s a behind the scenes shot from Max Gordon Photography (all the pics not taken by me were supplied by Vaute’s lovely PR person Meredith and are by Max Gordon or Farm Sanctuary). Also check out the sweater, I love it. I need it.
And here we have the stars of the show—and really the stars of any show they attend for that matter!: Leanne, Gene Baur, Discerning Brute Joshua.
And in closing, here’s a lovely Vine video I took:
OMG I had so much fun! Thanks, Farm Sanctuary!
Bliss Grand: New vegan restaurant in Brooklyn! »
About two weeks ago, I got to attend the opening celebration of the new Bliss Grand restaurant in Williamsburg, BK! Finally I can tell you all about it. The Bliss Grand owners have another venue in the area, a more casual place, but they wanted to open a more upscale restaurant. Mission accomplished! The place is very nice. Here’s the back bar area:
I love the exposed brick! The party was hosted by none other than Joshua Katcher. Here’s our handsome host:
To his right is the main dining area.
I totally drilled Joshua on vegan fashion. He told me he has some more items coming out from Brave GentleMan now that he’s launched the suits. He’s going to have some more affordable accessories and home items to complement his suit line. We also discussed the diligence it takes to create ethically sourced, sweatshop-free fashion. He is thorough!
They had a number of dishes out for us to try. My favorite thing we had were these little empanadas!:
Well actually, the empanadas were great, but it was the sauce that blew my mind! It’s a cashew margarita cream sauce and it is out of control delicious. It had a rich parmesan cheese flavor. And it totes has tequila in it because they are hardcore.
Other super popular items were these truffle oil fries (we eat truffle oil, no? They don’t still use pigs to find truffles, do they?) and this kale salad. Someone said the fries were possibly the best fries they ever had. And they were definitely delicious:
Other than the amazing food, I must also say the owners were incredibly nice. And not JUST because they kept me rich in delicious vegan wine.
The Bliss Grand is located at 167 Grand street at Bedford. Definitely worth the trip!
John Bartlett’s vegan menswear is so hot right now »
BlackBook's Nell Alk has a feature on John Bartlett's spring 2013 line, which he showed at the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts, you guys are you in love yet? OK, how about this: The clothes are all linen, vegan, sustainable, and totally gorgeous. Love!
We’ve talked about him before, but man, you should read this article, Bartlett is a good dude. Joshua Katcher loves him, Jeff Nesmith loves him, Vaute Couture collectively loves him, and (most importantly), Megan Rascal loves him. Why?
As he told BlackBook, “Everything I’ve learned—about how we use animals for clothing, entertainment, food—I would like not to do.” And what about the rest of his animal-product-using industry? “Being in the fashion industry, [avoiding animal-derived materials is] never a big consideration. I think it’s going to change. It’s changing.”
Here’s hoping. Get over to BlackBook to read the article and see photos of Bartlett’s entire SS13 line, which is pretty delightful. That pink suit! The shorts! The ties! Men’s vegan clothing is catching up to women’s and I couldn’t be happier. You guys in like five years we are all going to look so good.
[Photo by Dan Lecca via BlackBook]
Healthy Food in Fashion included a fashion show, silent auction, and vegan food and drinks, and was a fundraiser for the New York Coalition for Healthy Food, which works to get “healthier, delicious, plant-based foods” into New York public schools. We love healthy school lunches! Further, and possibly more importantly, that sushi looks delectable. Go read about the whole thing on Ecouterre, already!
[photo by Amanda Coen]
Interview with a Vegan: Joshua Katcher! »
Vegansaurus: Do you go by Josh or exclusively Joshua?
Joshua Katcher: I prefer Joshua, but I won’t have a complete meltdown if someone calls me Josh. I may cry for a few minutes and punch a hole in the wall, but then I’ll be totally fine. I’m pretty emotionally stable.
Why are you vegan?
Because it’s delicious, and because I think animals are individuals who deserve validation and consideration where their lives and bodies are at stake. But also because I hate freedom and I was hoping to be frail and ill—but that backfired and I’m really healthy and athletic now.
How long have you been vegan?
There was no exact date—it was a transition—but about 12 or 13 years, I think.
I am completely FASCINATED by parasitic intelligence. But as far as animals that I want to hang with, and cuddle. Dogs and goats. And cows. And pigs. Turkeys are like cats! Oy vey, this is impossible to answer.
Got any companion animals? Pictures!
Enzo is a rescued chihuahua. His nicknames are: Enzo Benzo, Enzo Roni, Reno Roni, Monster, Burrito, Little Man. There are more, but my sanity would be called into question. He didn’t bark or play or have any interest in other dogs for almost two years, but he is finally coming out of his shell, and recovering from the three years of abuse/neglect he experienced. He was rescued by Amy from sugarmutts.org.
[OMJesus this picture!]
Dr. Cow's hemp-nut cashew cheese.
Favorite vegan restaurant?
I still swoon over Candle 79’s seitan, but the bacon cheeseburger at Blossom Cafe is habit-forming, and the beet tartar at Madeline’s Bistro is worth flying to L.A. to have. I am such a foodie, it’s hard to choose favorites. Sometimes a bowl of steamed kale is the best thing in the world, and other times a Vegan Treats chocolate-covered strawberry shortcake hits the spot.
Vegan celebrity you want to bang?
All of them. At once.
Yes. Sorry, haters.
Do you remember when we met at Lula’s? Was it as awesome for you as it was for me?
I have been recovering ever since.
What’s your favorite thing to get at Lula’s?
I keep it simple at Lula’s: I really like a scoop of strawberry ice cream on a sugar cone. When feeling adventurous, I am obsessed with the malt powder or a malted milkshake—and the coconut whipped cream is better than I remember whipped cow-tit secretions being. I have a gym membership for a reason.
What do you like about fashion? How do you know all about it?
I like fashion because I am gay and I love being a stereotype. Ha ha. In all honesty, fashion is an incredibly powerful form of visual communication. It is the premiere means by which the majority of people in our current culture express their personal identity. We all participate in that discourse, whether we like it or not. Even if we reject the notion of fashion all-together, our culture is dominated by this visual language. There is a lot of power to be had or lost in dress, and if you know how to communicate that power properly, it have have amazing effects—especially if you are someone who wants to change the world. Additionally, if you know how to decode what others are wearing—a fur coat for example, it makes understanding the issues surrounding everything from animal cruelty in fashion to sweatshops and ecological issues, less overwhelming.
Favorite vegan designer?
I am really inspired by the strides John Bartlett is making, announcing “I want to be a 100-percent-vegan designer.” He is a personal friend, and a powerhouse in the fashion arena.
Favorite vegan accessory/possession?
There are a few. I got a recycled poly suit from CPas, a vegan biker “Decontrol” jacket from April77, black “milo” boots from NOVACAS, the gray “Vintage Boot” from Vegetarian Shoes, and an awesome men’s peacoat from Vaute Couture.
Why’d you start The Discerning Brute?
I started the Discerning Brute several years ago because no one was really providing a lifestyle resource specifically for “ethically handsome men.” From the beginning, my aim was to slowly compile a catalog of brands, companies, resources, and people that would form a community, and to eventually open a store, launch a suit line, and write a book. These are all underway.
Who does the illustrative design-y stuff for your site? I’m into it.
Thanks! I did the layout and graphic design myself, and the actual art I used in the design is from an 18th century illustrator.
[Katcher and Anna Wintour look-alike outside the Conde Nast building for the Pinnacle launch!]
What’s Pinnacle all about?
JK: PINNACLE: Reinvent The Icon is an image-driven initiative consisting of fashion industry professionals from all areas of fashion culture who are clarifying the changed meaning of fur within the context of our current culture.
Pinnacle produces editorial stories, and works with informed designers, models, and other professionals to create accessories and various forms of visual art consistent with an interest in:
- Providing critical commentary about animal fur
- Exposing aspects of fur production and marketing which are intentionally hidden or obscured
- Shifting the outdated, whitewashed and greenwashed attitude toward, and meaning of fur garments
- Calling for personal and corporate accountability concerning the cruelty inherent in all fur production
What’s next for Pinnacle?
I have been touring a bit with my “Fashion & Animals” talk, and I plan on speaking at Parsons, FIT, and San Francisco, soon. I was also asked to teach a module at the American University of Paris next spring on the topic, which is exciting. Getting more designers, models, photographers, etc. involved and producing more and more fashion content. Also, a huge priority for us is expanding to China because that is the fur capital of the world, and there are no regulations to protect animals. There is more animal cruelty in China than the rest of the world combined, and they are the largest exporter of fur—and that includes cat and dog fur. Because China is a communist country, if you can convince the government to stop something, it will be done overnight, more or less. We need to reach the Chinese government with a message of being heroes for animals in an appealing way. The Compassion For Animals Foundation is doing amazing work in China.
Is it true you’re trying to take over the world?
Well, the short answer is yes. But, since I have a bone to pick (hey vegan police, is it vegan to say that?) with hierarchical power structures, that poses a dilemma. I plan to change the world, but a take over seems so…egotistical.
First of all, the Guardian rules. Second of all, how do you feel about being “the new sexy vegan?”
I was so honored, and shocked. Growing up, I was always a totally shy, unpopular, comic-book-reading geek who got picked on pretty bad. So it’s quite strange to be considered “sexy” by someone. I’m learning to embrace it though, and use it to help animals.
Do you have any amazing nicknames I should know about?
My nickname in junior high was “fag” so you can try that. Or you can call me Yahoshua Ruvin. That’s my super-cool Hebrew name. Don’t be jealous.
Are you willing to have Vegansaurus over and cook us a vegan feast? If so, what day?
I’m not sure I have room for a dinosaur in my apartment, but I’d be happy to come to one of your places and cook together! That would be fun. We can make sawdust and gravel and grass clippings, since that’s what vegans eat.
Any questions for Vegansaurus? Anything!
What would the Vegansauraus dudes like to see happen on the DB, and what would you like to see for sale at my forthcoming store, BraveGentleMan.com? Do any readers have men’s lifestyle questions for me?
Vegansaurus men, let’s hear it! Just what does the Vegansaurus Man of today want?
Fur and fashion: the revolution is coming! »
On Sunday, Feb. 6, the awesome Joshua Katcher (Discerning Brute, Pinnacle) presented “Fur & Fashion: Decoding and Harnessing the Dialect of Fashion,” with a Q&A including the brilliant John Bartlett, and the amazing Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart of Vaute Couture. There is sooooo much to be said, I can only skim the points.
Katcher ran through the symbols and psychology of fashion, connecting what is worn by the models and their demeanor, and how they invoke our need for approval! As they look at us, all gorgeous and disdainful, we need their acceptance, to be like them, to wear fur, contribute to inhumane and unethical behaviors! And we’re uncool unless we give in! YES!!! They subconsciously make you want to be evil! He points out that skins were once used for survival, which is no longer the case in our culture, and how there is disconnect between animals and their fashionable skins in many folks psychology. Example: Terry Richardson hugging a dog while wearing a rabbit-fur coat. Creepy!
John Bartlett, Joshua Katcher, Leanne Mai-Ly Hilgart
To summarize Katcher’s points on tactics, wardrobe is used as a weapon of intimidation, as in the military trends. And the aesthetic laws put top designer togs in a higher social class, and uniforms such as a maid’s on the bottom. The psychological attacks are quite astounding! Our love of a good villain is used against us and I surmise that this may be one reason why the allure of CrueAnna deWintour is so strong! Joshua points out that the editorials and designers’ campaigns portray a society that has access to the unknown. Often-used dark, occult imagery are ever so attractive. He also notes that as fashion editors continue to cover fur, they intentionally do not cover the whole story.
While the furriers have deep pockets and use their financial influence on the struggling young and naïve designers, the ethical folks do not have the finances.
Joshua brought us through the points of how cruelly all the skins are procured. Much of this verified information can be found on PETA, Mercy for Animals, and the HSUS websites. In a nutshell, DO NOT TAKE FROM ANIMALS. And even more, humans seem to always make the exploitation into a greater hell in order to cut costs. The examples are irrefutable and we are accountable. Feathers and silk are a part of this. And sometimes fake fur is too! Look for the “skin” of the fake fur. It should not look like skin! Philip Lim 3.1 and Urban Outfitters have made this mistake. And many folks excuse this as a personal choice as opposed to social justice.
Skins from kombucha-processing, recycled material from plastic bottles, and closed-loop manufacturing systems are all ways to ethically produce fashion. THE SOLUTIONS ARE THERE—but maybe a bit more costly than fur farms in China. And with John Bartlett (left) following in Stella McCartney’s glorious footsteps and then some by nixing wool and alpaca, the designers devoted to this cause are joined by an ICON!
According to Bartlett, “Next time I show, I want to show a fully vegan collection. I want to make sure there’s intention behind it. Over the past year, I have taken leather out of my collections, I will no longer use down and, hopefully by next fall, I will no longer use wool.” He is also actively participating with Pinnacle! The paper will be released for NY Fashion Week, but you can see PDFs here.
During the Q&A, someone asked how you should talk with friends who argue that wearing vintage fur is OK. While some answers were in more of the understanding and empathizing vein, Joshua zinged in with “A vintage Nazi uniform is still a Nazi uniform. You wear fur, you hate animals.” Like a shot to the heart!
When asked how designers can’t know about the horrors, John Bartlett answered, “They don’t understand why fur isn’t fabulous. [Many] consider fur as fabric. There is this incredible disconnect; it’s the same kind of disconnect as eating a hamburger.”
Always a concern is cost, and the ethical clothes are often pricey. Leanne Mai-Ly points out that her clothes are locally sourced as best possible and locally produced here in NYC, keeping her eye on quality and ethical accountability. Clothing should be seen as an investment, not disposable! I agree. Never thought about how the sweatshops are there to produce disposable clothing, which only makes that worker’s toil even more horrifying!
I sense a revolution—style-conscious, ethically inclined superheroes that can finally speak the language of the often oblivious and closed-minded fashion world! Clothes do make the man (and woman), and they can make him heard!
Tell us your favorite ethical designers and sites in the comments!
This review and the photos herein were brought to us by the talented and terrific Jeff Nesmith, an Alabama native thriving in Brooklyn. Designer, draw-er, writer, magazine producer, vegan fry-cook/biscuit-baker, and by day, the editorial production director for Real Simple magazine. He describes his site, welloiledmachinenyc.com, as always a work in progress; we think it’s ridiculously awesome.