Items: Is Fashion Modern?

Unknown designer. Athletic jersey, c. 1980. Manufactured by Champion (American, founded 1919). Image courtesy of Champion, taken during installation of _Items: Is Fashion Modern?_

Hoodie. 1980

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Unknown designer. Athletic jersey, c. 1980. Manufactured by Champion (American, founded 1919). Image courtesy of Champion, taken during installation of Items: Is Fashion Modern?

Paola Antonelli: Fashion designer Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss contributed to the Space Age section of this exhibition at the end of the gallery. In 2016, he shared the stage at a MoMA symposium with activist DeRay Mckesson of Black Lives Matter. Together they discussed the hoodie.

Kerby Jean-Raymond: My name is Kerby Jean-Raymond. I am a fashion designer, for the moment.

The hoodie for me was always just a sign of something to keep me warm, or when I was in college or in school and days I didn’t wanna feel like getting dressed up, it served as a jacket and a shirt all at once. But for some people in America, and for some people across the world it poses a threat. It’s a sign of defiance, it’s a sign of anonymity. It’s a sign that danger is coming.

I've grown up in East Flatbush, Brooklyn. I’ve been stopped and frisked about 12 times before I turned 17 years old. I’ve been hit in the head by police officers. I’ve been kicked off my bike by police officers. I’ve had my head slammed into my car by police officers and most of that time, I’m wearing something along the lines of a hood, a jacket with a hood, that they deem as a threat.

It’s just unfortunate that on top of all the things that we have to fight for in this country as black males and black women, we also have to be cognizant of the things that we wear so that it doesn't pose a threat to somebody else.

I didn't want to become this political designer. I really just wanted to be like my idols. I wanted to be like Yohji Yamamoto, I wanted to be like Martin Margiela, I wanted to be like Dries Van Noten and I wanted to be respected but I knew that the elephant in the room and every room that I walked into was always going to be the color of my skin. So I had to address that head-on the way I wanted to.

I started reaching out to family members of those victims of police brutality and decided that I was like going to make this 12-minute documentary that I was going to show in place of my runway, on how people are reacting to police brutality and how certain people felt helpless even in high positions of power.

Unknown designer. Athletic jersey, c. 1980. Manufactured by Champion (American, founded 1919). Image courtesy of Champion, taken during installation of Items: Is Fashion Modern?
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