Kerby Jean-Raymond Talks Cultural Appropriation in Fashion + the ‘Illest Stockholm Syndrome’

On Dec. 3, Kerby Jean-Raymond will be honored as the Person of the Year at the FN Achievement Awards. 

At the historic Kings Theatre in Brooklyn, N.Y., FN talked with Kerby Jean-Raymond, winner of the 2019 FN Achievement Award for Person of the Year, about cultural appropriation in fashion, the progression of his career and how he defines himself.

The Pyer Moss designer and Reebok Studies creative director said he creates specifically for his own community.

“I’m not making work for white consumption,” he said. “I can’t speak to a community that I don’t know. I’m just speaking to a community that I know.”

Jean-Raymond explained that the fashion industry “has been elitist for a long time.”

“This industry has literally made their money off, and their fortunes, and bought their yachts, bought their mansions and everything off the backs of black consumerism and off the creative leeching of urban and black and minority communities and LGBTQ communities and has never made the effort to represent them,” he said.

“It’s like they’ve been creating these aspirational images — they’ve been creating this aspirational lifestyle that like everyone has been going to but at the same time it’s been f**king us up mentally. This is like the illest Stockholm syndrome,” he continued. “We’ve been beaten down, shown this lifestyle that we just can’t aspire to…What Pyer Moss does different is actually show the real people in the ad campaigns, in the videos, on the runways, in the shoes, actually buying the product and showing them how they are beautiful.”

Although he’s been involved in the fashion industry for the past 18 years, Jean-Raymond said he doesn’t define himself as just a fashion designer.

“I don’t think I belong to a specific industry. I think I’m an artist that just chooses different mediums to play in,” he explained. “I do dabble, and I like to show that I dabble in the way I present Pyer Moss. Pyer Moss is a culmination of fashion, music, art, language, societal critique — all the things that have piqued my interest throughout my life.”

The 33rd annual FNAA ceremony will be held at the IAC Building in New York. Sponsors for the event include Klarna, Geox, The Style Room Powered by Zappos, FDRA, Micam Milano and Buchanan’s Scotch Whisky.

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