Fashion is moving away from political slogan tee, it seems, though Kerby Jean-Raymond, the designer behind New York label Pyer Moss, was never too keen on them in the first place. In 2014, Moss created the “They Have Names” shirt, honoring the memories of 11 Black men killed by police brutality including Trayvon Martin, Amadou Diallo, and Michael Brown. This past year, he created an updated version of the top, “Even More Names,” for Colin Kaepernick to wear in his GQ ‘Man of the Year’ spread. Of it, Jean-Raymond told Refinery29: “People are just commodifying different things and I don’t want to [be] another peg in that wheel of white corporate culture essentially owning and commodifying activism. That’s why I’m making a conscious effort not to sell the shirt. It’s just a protest piece.”
On Saturday evening, protest took on a new form on Jean-Raymond’s New York Fashion Week runway as he debuted a capsule collection of unisex ready-to-wear clothing and footwear designed in partnership with Reebox. Rafael Saadiq’s curated sounds floated through the air like a church hymn; a choir sang Gil Scott-Heron’s “Home is Where the Hatred Is” and Kendrick Lamar’s “Wesley’s Theory” as models walked the packed room.
“The collection is the beginning of our journey in telling the story of underrepresented groups of Americans. We’re starting the conversation and this new direction for the brand by first speaking about the original American cowboy,” Raymond said in a press release. “The phrase cowboy, which was meant to be demeaning and derogatory is being re-seen as regal and spiritual. Our hope is to continue to challenge traditional narratives of minority groups in this country and tell uplifting stories within our work, which encourage inclusion.”
Pieces included a faux fur bomber jacket decorated with stars with the distinct Reebok Classic logo across the butt, a jumpsuit in a red and blue color way, cinched at the waist by a chunky shoelace tie, and wide-leg joggers, colorblocked in red, white and blue, which read “REEBOK” down one leg and “AS USA AS U” on the other. Protest has taken on other forms.
“Kerby Jean-Raymond from Pyer Moss has a true vision when it comes to ready-to-wear that appeals to a bold and socially conscious consumer,” Neal Taylor, general manager of Reebok Classic, said in a press release. “For the Reebok by Pyer Moss collaboration, he stayed true to the aesthetics of the Reebok archival pieces that inspired the collection, while seamlessly incorporating his daring point of view to make each piece tell its own unique story.” And it works.