And while we’ve heard from adnauseum how comfortable, flexible, spongy everything people want to wear now is, our fashion backers insist that’s not quite true. It turns out that many women desperately wanted to brown the lily – don a glittery mask, hold up a vaccine card, and come out to greet the night. Latta laughs her company was selling sequined mini dresses even during the lockdown, while Smith insists that deep in the pandemic, “suits were actually flying off. Where was she going?” he’s asking himself.
But not everyone finds their salvation in sexy sparks. Abrima Erwiah, co-founder with Rosario Dawson of Studio 189, travels between New York and Ghana for her line. Erwiah says her client wants to feel special, to buy and wear something she can truly believe in. “There is a demand for transparency now – our first mission is for fashion to be an agent of social change. Her flowing, colorful dresses may seem intended for a different kind of night out than the woman Smith dreams of, but maybe not? Maybe she can be the same person – floating in a Kente dress one night, prowling in a catsuit the next.
The emphasis on a compelling backstory, the belief that the clothes we choose to wear have deep social implications, is at the heart of so many Fashion Funders conversations. The House of Aama, a Los Angeles-based mother-daughter team (Rebecca Henry also works as a lawyer; her daughter Akua Shabaka is a graduate of Parsons School of Design), explains that the importance of storytelling, pride in l black experience, is at the heart of their vision. They displayed their collection in a setting meant to evoke a mid-century African-American resort town. “There’s an underlying theme of being resilient, of unboxing so much history,” says Henry. Her daughter, meanwhile, says: “The past is our muse! We create community, continue and strengthen this tradition.
If we take anything away from the brutal experience we just had – one that continues to reverberate – it is a deep appreciation for the newly emerging communities – congregations of people who, like all Fashion Fund participants, want their love of fashion to reflect their own personal stories, emphasize the primacy of sustainability, and are committed to serving diverse audiences while taking whatever steps are necessary for their businesses to survive and thrive.
And there are so many reasons to be thankful. As Erwiah of Studio 189 says: “We have to remember the big picture: the power of fashion has so much potential, we can make a difference! It is a celebration of the life we lead, diverse and multicultural. This is what our friends look like, this is what new York looks like.”