I had the distinct pleasure to attend Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week yesterday and experience one of the most mundane runway shows of the season. Black Sail, a menswear collection by Nautica designer Chris Cox, exhibited muted palates that were reminiscent of Poconos apparel from 2008. Or maybe 2010. Who knows. Fashion has a funny way with its selective memory.
What was most disheartening about the show is being reminded of the tired conversation about equal representation of models of color on the runway. And I deem this conversation torn and flat because it truly has nothing to do with equal representation, but rather proper representation.
Out of possibly 18 models that came onto the catwalk, one was black, and the other, Asian. At this point, Cox might as well have just kept it snow white as the aesthetic of the line than waste time on finding models of color with western features to display for diversity-sakes. It’s that “patronize the public with the at least” narrative that we are sick of hearing in stereo every season of Fashion Week.
To digress, I had a pretty long conversation with another fashion journalist before the show started and I spoke of my role in writing columns for the menswear and lifestyle blog Gentsamongmen.com as a voice of feminist reason in male fashion. Such as, what are the possibilities of menswear beyond the suit and tie and can we really reimagine and reconfigure the trite notions of masculinity beyond the traditional module? When women wear mens’ clothing, do they emasculate the wear or does their femininty become overshadowed by the outer masculine? Or maybe the more productive question is, why do we have to choose? That’s the beauty of androgyny, you don’t have to choose, because there exists a balance between this choice of taking on more of the feminine or masculine in any way you feel best fits your aesthetic. All puns required.
So to put it short and succinct to the point:
Chris Cox, do better. We’re not impressed. Your Black Sail has sunk.
For more photos from Nautica’s show and my day at NYFW, visit my portfolio.