cfda by Hanna Carney July 6, 2021
Kerby Jean-Raymond, who has been a successful Black fashion designer since his youth, is effectively presenting fashion as art, specifically, sustainable art that conveys a strong message. Jean-Raymond works to uplift people of color and the environment rather than destroying them, which he is illustrating through his new Reebok deal.
Jean-Raymond is a fashion prodigy of sorts. He created his first designs when he was young and earned an apprenticeship when he was just 14 years old. At 15, he crafted his first fashion label, Mary’s Jungle. With these early accomplishments in mind, it is no surprise that Forbes listed him in “30 under 30” in 2015.
The Black fashion designer really came to fame with his presentation of Pyer Moss’s Spring Menswear Collection in 2016 New York Fashion Week. The show was particularly memorable, as it controversially referenced police brutality and Black Lives Matter.
Jean-Raymond’s decision to draw attention to these issues and causes through his art paid off. His success has expanded substantially. In 2020, he was appointed Global Creative Director of Reebok sportswear. He is also involved in Reebok’s Product with Purpose program. This program is part of Reebok’s initiative to fight racism and racist systems.
Jean-Raymond has been working on this collab with Reebok since their deal in September 2020. A couple of weeks ago, Reebok shared a glimpse at Jean-Raymond’s creative vision—the “Reconnect” collection.
This series of short films and a longer video reimagines the connection between sport and community, as inspired by Jide Osifeso—the artistic marketing director appointed by Jean-Raymond. Osifeso elaborates on his idea behind “Reconnect.”
“The film series was made for people to derive their own meanings. I wanted to explore forward movement – literally and figuratively – and on a macro level, the idea that life is not a spectator sport as we should always strive to make the most of every moment in our journey through life.”Jide Osifeso
Further down the line, Osifeso and Jean-Raymond will reveal a new global campaign and Jean-Raymond’s first product line in the spring of 2022. Jean-Raymond will also reveal another collection that is entirely his own a year later in 2023.
This designer is inspiring for reasons beyond his creative drive and social sensitivity. As written in the CFDA newsletter,
“Jean-Raymond’s new role sends the right message. He becomes the second Black American designer to creatively lead an important brand in our industry – Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton being the first – and the role gives him a leadership opportunity to not just express his powerful voice on a major platform, but to also stand as a role model for future generations dreaming of a career in fashion.”
As a successful Black designer and creative, Jean-Raymond’s position and talent should be appreciated. Especially seeing how he is using his platform to make a difference at Reebok and in the fashion industry, which includes promoting sustainability as the future of fashion.
He tells WWD in an interview, “I think the future of fashion is experiential, and I think fashion is going to move from clothes to content.” With this new focus on content and fashion as “art pieces,” Jean-Raymond believes “the days of pushing out product, trying to work against inventory is going to die with the more conscious thinking and sustainability.”
If companies make clothing to order, as the company Resonance does, it “involves very little water usage, no waste of any fabrication,” says Jean-Raymond. He wants “to start creative experiences” rather than harming the environment with mass production.
Jean-Raymond’s collections underline how fashion can be an experience—one that is enjoyable, thought-provoking, and environmentally friendly. His work is paradigmatic of how creatives can propel society forward.
This designer is emphasizing the importance of artists, especially Black artists, and the societal commentary their work can make. Sustainable fashion and art can go hand in hand, and Kerby Jean-Raymond makes sure to remind us of this.