Public School and DKNY designer Maxwell Osborne penned an open letter in W Thursday encouraging people in the fashion industry to stand with the Black Lives Matter movement. "I write this open letter to encourage the fashion industry to not just continue the dialogue of race in America, but to do something about it," he wrote.
It's, frankly, disheartening that most of the noise coming out of the fashion industry about the Black Lives Matter movement is almost exclusively a small minority pleading with others to support them. Two models and a designer told Complex the reaction from the industry after the deaths of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile has been disheartening. This week, a group protested outside of NYFW: Men's. "I’ve been loving [fashion] ever since I was four years old, and to realize that it didn’t love me back hurt me," Hannah Stoudemire, the protest's organizer and employee at Lanvin, told Racked.
Osborne, who has used his collections to talk about politics before, not only asks for the fashion industry's support but explains how it can create change:
Fashion is always at its best when it looks outside of itself for inspiration and holds up a mirror to society. Sometimes we do that on the runway and sometimes when we come together as an industry and take up important causes, like so many of our peers have and continue to do with breast cancer and HIV/AIDS.
Stand with Black Lives Matter. Go out and educate yourself and learn how you can help and join the conversation as an active participant and not just as a passive, if well-meaning, observer. Encourage diversity on your runways and campaigns. Empower your social media fans to raise their voices. Use your designs for the public good. Attend a protest and see change in action. Raise awareness – it’s not as empty a gesture as it may seem – and others will follow your lead.
Osborne wrote that he was inspired to speak out after witnessing a "city united" at a BLM protest in New York City. "I didn’t know what to expect but I was immediately taken back by the camaraderie. Everybody, a big melting pot of people reflective of the city they call home, seemed proud to be there."
You can read Osborne's letter in full here.