This NYFW Show Tackled Homelessness, & It Worked

Photo: Victor VIRGILE Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images.
Several fashion designers were inspired by homelessness this season: Yes, you read that correctly. The fashion community has grappled with the subject problematically in the past, and it can't seem to find a way to tactfully address the homeless (or, ideally, just leave them alone). But yesterday, New York brand Gypsy Sport may have figured out how to handle the topic appropriately.

A couple of weeks ago at New York Fashion Week: Men's, Japanese label N. Hoolywood draped models in oversized, quilted fabrics, paired with equally tone-deaf accessories that resembled trash bags. Then, there was a show dubbed "The Nylon Project" (no relation to the magazine) that was supposed to draw attention to the struggle of New York City's homeless habitants, and, by way of its Bravoleb (a.k.a Bravo-famous celebrities) and Instagram-famous attendees, give back to the subjects it sought to help. The project was successful and ended up raising enough money to fund 1,500 meals for the homeless, but designers continue to turn a blind eye to one of New York City, and the world's, biggest problems.

However, Gypsy Sport's fall 2017 collection managed to tackle the difficult subject in an innovative way, and far more deftly than other designers have in the past. At the beginning of the show, designer Rio Uribe spoke from his experiences with homeless populations from Paris to Los Angeles. He drew inspiration not from their "style" or lack of adequate clothing, but from their yearn for life that even he, himself, admits to ignoring far too often.

Before drummers (who typically play in New York City subway stations) started performing as the lights flooded the runway, Uribe prefaced his collection with an uplifting sentiment. "I learned so much from speaking to people who live outside; I’ve learned so much about humanity," Uribe said. "I think we’re actually a very loving people who want to help each other, but sometimes that’s not what is preached to us…Let’s fight for a new world, a decent world, one where we can make room for each other."

What made Uribe's latest collection for Gypsy Sport work was its ability to imagine a future where all genders and walks of life coexist harmoniously. Fabrics were draped in unconventional ways, sure, but it didn't feel like an exploitation of those who struggle to afford adequate clothing. Suiting was presented in a fashion that says anyone can wear one, so long as you fuck it up a bit and make it your own (perhaps as a subtle nod to resisting the status quo): There were also oversized pinstripe blazers, rainbow sweatsuits, and dress pants that featured varsity stripes down the sides.

The show's diverse casting, which we've seen carried out across more runways than ever this season, was sourced from its Instagram and the rallies Uribe's frequented since last season, like the Women's March on Washington and the protests against President Trump's Muslim ban in New York. While some of New York's most celebrated designers are still being praised for casting, say, one to three curvy models, Uribe's catwalks are true epicenters for diversity. And that alone makes Gypsy Sport's latest showing a must-see.

To convey such a powerful message through such an accessible collection that track pant-wearing, free-thinking millennials will no doubt snap up, is not an easy task. But no matter how much inspiration he seems to draw from both the beautiful and hard-to-face parts of the world around him, Uribe has yet to give up his main objective: the ability for clothing to breed inclusivity. And as the fashion industry continues struggling to aptly address the problems of the world, Gypsy Sport seems to have figured out an appropriate and boundary-pushing way to just that.