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!”
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.