New York-based Pyer Moss designer Kerby Jean-Raymond called out Business of Fashion and its editor-in-chief, Imran Amed, last night (September 30, 2019) on Instagram Live, where he criticizing the publication in large part for using inclusion as a toothless form of marketing.
While attending the publication’s annual “BoF 500” Gala, which honors influential people in the fashion industry, Jean Raymond was angered by a speech Amed made that highlighted people in the industry who’ve helped improve the dialog around diversity.
The list included approximately 20 prominent designers, but not Jean Raymond who, prior to the event, had sat on a BoF panel addressing diversity concerns and spoken at length by phone with Amed about his inclusion on a diversity-themed BoF 500 magazine cover.
When asked by Amed, Jean-Raymond also offered up additional cover candidates worthy of coverage. Subsequently, Amed texted Jean Raymond and let him know the magazine chose other subjects for the cover.
In an essay on Medium fleshing out the reason for his Instagram remarks that include screen shots of Amed’s texts, Jean-Raymond wrote, “[Amed] said he’d seen the work I’d been doing with Pyer Moss and in the community and I’d been selected to be on one of the 3 covers of the BoF 500 magazine. Big ‘oh shit’ moment for me. 🥰, me, cover. So this now began a series of phone calls between him and I and meetings in Paris. I brought Jide with me to one of them.
“In all these calls and talks he’s picking my brain for names to include on this cover with me and a list of ‘diverse’ people for the 500; I threw out everyone from [Colin] Kaep[ernick], Lena [Waithe], Clarence Avon, Aurora [James], Valencia Clay, Nadia Lopez, Antoine Phillips, Precious Blood Ministries, Compton Cowboys, Andre Walker, Christopher John Rogers, Telfar, Heron [Preston], Cushnie, Bode, Jerry [Lorenzo], Lil Kim, Cardi, Ebonee, Jessie Williams, Hov [Jay-Z], Meek [Mill], Innocence Project, Richard Phillips, Jason Rembert, Ade, Kollin [Carter], Thelma Golden, Noor, Lizzo, Tracee [Ellis Ross], Jen Rubio, Chromat… you know, all of us.”
The 32-year-old designer was further put off by the company’s decision to use a gospel choir as a form of entertainment at the event, which took place in Paris on Monday evening (September 30th).
Jean Raymond explained, “Then the choir comes back on stage. This man, Imran, turns into Kirk Franklin and starts dancing on the stage with them and shit. To a room full of white people. So now we at 90%. What inspires people to do this? What motivates someone to feel that they have the right to do a Kirk Franklin dance on the stage? Because ultimately that level of entitlement is the core issue. People feeling like they can buy or own whatever they want … if that thing pertains to blackness. We are always up for sale.
“So now we’re here. In short, fuck that list and fuck that publication. I take no ownership of choirs, Christianity or curating safe spaces for black people. That’s a ‘We’ thing,” said Jean-Raymond, likely referencing his own New York Fashion Week show that included a gospel choir.
Commenting on the propensity of majority white companies to make use of and take inspiration from the music and culture of black Americans, Raymond finished, “Homage without empathy and representation is appropriation. Instead, explore your own culture, religion and origins. By replicating ours and excluding us — you prove to us that you see us as a trend. Like, we gonna die black, are you?”