It’s been months since Anna Wintour called Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 3 presentation “migrant chic,” much to the horror of anyone tuned in to current events. But on Tuesday evening we were again reminded just how out of touch the glitzy, glamorous, insular fashion world can be. Last night, Japanese label N.Hoolywood took to the New York Fashion Week: Men’s stage to showcase its Fall 2017 collection, a line inspired by — as founder and creative lead Daisuke Obana put it — “street people.”
Before you bother correcting your freshly dropped jaws, process the following show notes: “As our designer traveled the cities of America he witnessed the various ways in which people there lived on the streets and the knowledge they have acquired while doing so. His observations of these so-called homeless or street people revealed that them [sic] to be full of clever ideas for covering the necessities of life.” These so-called “clever” ideas being the use of blankets as “coats for cold days” and plastic bags as “waterproof boots when it rains.” N.Hoolywood’s designer also admired their “experimental sizing,” as if it were intentional.
Of course, N.Hoolywood’s “street people,” unlike those enduring the cold New York night, were decked out in extravagant fabrics and knits. Their fingerless gloves were likely cashmere. Their luxe totes were made to look like Hefty bags. Some wore multiple pairs of carefully tailored pants, others mismatched socks.
And the tone-deafness didn’t stop there. Showgoers sat on a hodgepodge of wooden chairs and benches (the kind you’d find in a Brooklyn boutique, not abandoned on a street corner). Models were instructed to walk slowly, their heads to the ground, their shoulders slumped, because “street people” typically appear that way — you know, downtrodden, etc.
As Fashionista contributor Steve Dool pointed out: “For a show that dubiously claimed to be about celebrating the ingenuity of people down on their luck, the body language read like a pantomime of the shame associated with poverty. The implications get more disconcerting when the correlation between homelessness and mental illness is considered; around a quarter of the homeless population suffers from mental illness, according to NAMI.”
We cannot stop cringing. If N.Hoolywood wants to redeem itself, we’d advise donating the collection and/or all proceeds from its sale to the “street people” that inspired its creation. Obana, here’s a helpful guide to New York’s homeless charities. You’re welcome.