These NYFW Designers are #WOKE

September 12, 2017

New York Fashion Week shows have been making the news for more than just fashion. Designers are making strong statements on the NYFW runways about LGBTQ rights, women's rights, and immigrant rights. Here we recognize the fashion icons who use their fame as a tool for social change.   


Tracy Reese: Spring 2018

Images: Gio Staiano/Nowfashion


These models had a lot to say--literally. Tracy Reese purposely had her models speaking onstage ". . . about themselves, why they're doing this, what their hopes and dreams are, the women they admire in their lives." Reese continues to explain, "Often when you come to these, people don't look at the women, they're looking at the clothes, and that's why we're doing this. I wanted people to see the woman in the clothing, and hear something about who she is." There's something to be said for a designer who elevates her models beyond the 2-D mannequins we're used to seeing. Thank you, Tracy Reese, for empowering and inspiring women.  


Public School: Spring 2018

Images: Gio Staiano/Nowfashion


It's difficult to discern what Public School's message is by just simply looking at these photos. Unlike Reese where we are able to see the models talking, Gurung where we see the message printed on t-shirts, and Siriano where we see the transgender model on the runway, we cannot see Public School's stance without some interpretation. First, take into account the location--the 19th century Five Points neighborhood. Historically, this location has been home to immigrants from all different backgrounds. Second, a closer look at Public School's designs reveals the story. You begin to notice models carrying plastic bags, wearing plastic bags as shirts, and pieces that are made of materials meant to look like a plastic bag. So, what's the deal with this plastic bag theme? Public School designer, Dao-Yi Chow, says "The plastic bag, for example, (is) something that people may discard or overlook. When you think about immigrants and their contribution, they're overlooked." It seems fitting then that we cannot physically see Public School's message right away because DACA Dreamers often fade into the background of our schools, offices, and communities. Hopefully, that is beginning to change.  


Prabal Gurung: Spring 2018



Image: Getty


If Gloria Steinem approves, so do we! Prabal Gurung actually got Steinem to attend her very first fashion show which not surprisingly, promoted feminism and resistance. Models walked the catwalk sporting t-shirts with phrases like, "The Future Is Female," "Stay Woke," and "This is What A Feminist Looks Like." Ashley Graham, model and body-positive activist, encourages "Resist with Love." Gurung's ultimate hope is for a world "free of bias, free of hate, free of prejudice . . . where humanity reigns." A beautiful sentiment by Gurung.


Christian Siriano: Spring 2018

Images: Regis Colin Berthelier/Nowfashion



Christian Siriano employed some major flower power during his show. His collection is inspired by a "fantasy greenhouse" that is inclusive of every plant and flower species, and all together create beauty. His collection really symbolizes this greenhouse with all the bright colors and floral prints, but also the diversity in models. He includes all shapes, sizes, colors, and genders. Male model, Joel Wolfe, wore a hoodie on the runway that featured Siriano's slogan for his Spring 2018 collection: "We All Grow in the Same Garden." Avie Acosta, a transgender model who also walked in Siriano's show, posted the photo above on Sunday using the same slogan as her caption. Let's continue the fantasy greenhouse movement. 



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