The Controversy Around Kanye West Isn’t Enough To Keep Fashion People Away

Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company.
After taking a break from fashion in 2018, Yeezy — Kanye West’s fashion line — is back for season 8. Since the 2016 election, West’s shows, already controversial in their own right, have been colored by his chummy relationship with President Donald Trump. In 2019, he tweeted, “Trump all day,” followed by: “Just so in 2019 you know where I stand.” He’s worn red Make America Great Again caps on multiple occasions. West has also given interviews in which he makes racist claims that have excited the far-right and horrified everyone else, like when he told TMZ that he thought slavery “sounds like a choice” because the institution lasted for over 400 years. 
Many fashion publications, including our own, have disavowed Kanye West’s statements, calling his words and actions racist and discriminatory and counter to the fashion community’s self-proclaimed principles of inclusivity and progressiveness.
However, that didn’t stop many top editors from celebrating his Sunday Service show this weekend, as well as his Paris Fashion Week show on Monday. 
West hosted his Christian musical ministry, Sunday Service, at Bouffes du Nord in Paris to a warm reception. The New York Times Fashion Director Vanessa Friedman tweeted a video of the event with the observation, “The fashion people have never been this excited at 9:40 am on Sunday morning in Paris. #SundayService #PFW.” WWD’s Booth Moore also tweeted about the positive reactions she noticed among the fashion flock.
Some, though, didn’t take the bait. Bryan Grey Yambao retweeted an Instagram post by musician Anohni that called out the fashion industry for continuing to support West despite “his heinous message [that] endangers the lives of gay people; women; poor, middle, and working classes; and the environment itself.” Bryan Boy’s retweet reads, “Reality check to all the fashion writers out there in Paris.” 
It’s fashion journalists and critics’ responsibility to cover opinions and perspectives that aren’t aligned with their own. But for the stylists, influencers, buyers, and market editors in the audience, whose agendas are not so much led by the truth rather than by the bottom line,  attendance without criticism can mount to an endorsement. 
As for the clothes? They came in Yeezy’s tried-and-true palette of dystopian neutrals, with thinly constructed yoga pants that both stretch and pool, quilted crop-top, puffy shoes, and wabi sabi outerwear. According to Booth Moore: “Kanye said the idea [was] to dress the service industry — and be in service — at #YeezySeason8 #PFW show. He wants to dress the people who work in his house who are tired of wearing all black.”
It’s as confusing an idea among all the ones that Kanye has put out there: a fashion event showcasing clothes that a celebrity imagines his own employees will wear when they work for him. More puzzling is that the fashion establishment should legitimize the display. But, if you’ve been paying attention, none of this should come as much of a surprise.
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