How This Dutch Fashion Brand Is Taking Ballroom Culture Global

Photographed by Sydney Rahimtoola/Courtesy of Yamuna Forzani.
Whether we mean to or not, we put a lot of pressure on our clothes. We expect them to define us but also shape-shift with our every mood. We want high quality but we aren't willing to pay for it. We demand industry-wide change but we insist that it happens overnight. Fashion is struggling to keep up. But what keeps people interested is newness and the merging and spreading of different cultures.
As Yamuna Forzani, a Dutch brand that seeks to bring New York's ballroom culture to the edges of Europe, exemplifies: People who actually identify as queer, non-binary, or anything beyond convention already understand that fashion goes beyond the clothes we wear on our backs — it means proposing and experimenting with different ways of thinking, too. For the label's latest knitwear collection, Forzani collaborated with Queens-based photographer Sydney Rahimtoola on an editorial featuring creatives of the queer, Black, and Latinx communities. The shots not only showcase Forzani's clothes in an authentic space but a safe one, too, which is integral to the success of LGBTQ+ people in the fashion industry.
Of the shoot, the duo says their approach includes "gathering the ballroom children of the Netherlands — our friends and communities — and emphasizing their idiosyncrasies through portraiture." The spring 2019 collection is based on founder Yamuna Forzani's travels in the U.S. and Japan, namely ballroom's birthplace, New York City, to get an original, firsthand take on its influence. For Forzani, ballroom was "created as a haven of free, self-expression that continues to serve as an ideology of utopia, inclusivity, and a safe space for the LGBTQ+ people of color in the underground scene the world over."
Ahead, we spoke to Forzani and Rahimtoola about everything from what ballroom culture in the Netherlands looks like to how integral underrepresented minorities are to the mainstream tier of fashion — and what all of that means, clothing-wise, for those who just don't get it but genuinely want to.

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