Phillip Lim, Jerry Lorenzo and Karla Welch On the Importance of Community In the Face of Racism

Community and collective action are integral components of building strength in the face of racism. That was the resounding message from yesterday’s digital panel, “Doing Something About It: Conversations About Culture, Community and Our Collective Power,” organized by designer Phillip Lim.

The 3.1 Phillip Lim founder and designer tapped journalist Noor Tagouri to moderate the two-hour event, which included panelists such as Fear of God designer Jerry Lorenzo and stylist Karla Welch. Lim also sought out non-fashion names such as activist Amanda Nguyen, Brooklyn real estate powerhouse Rachel Aschalew, art dealer Nicola Vassell and Mexican artist Leopoldo Gout, who joined the New York-based designer in the two-part panel discussion.

“The focus might be on the Asian community right now, but you realize that racism can turn on any group at any point,” said Lim. “If we don’t stand together now to be a human wall, then there is no community in the future. This moment here is continued preparation for us to lead and learn, this is the rhythm.”

phillip lim, fashion, nyfw, new york, 3.1 phillip lim, stop asian hate
Lim on the runway.

The event was held two days after the Atlanta area murders of eight people, six of which were Asian women. Lim has been one of the leading voices in the fashion community speaking out against hate crimes, violence and other racist incidents against Asians, all of which have increased during the pandemic. To date, the designer has helped raise more than $2.2 million through a GoFundMe page, which promotes the #StopAsianHate social initiative and is vetted by various Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) organizations. The fundraiser will benefit these organizations as well as the individual victims and families of the victims of the Atlanta-area killings.

“‘Slaysians’ started (because) in my profession there is a lot of bigotry and exclusion. Fashion likes to paint a picture of inclusion but in fact everything is about exclusivity and there is a lot of maneuvering behind the scenes to make sure it stays that way,” Lim said during the panel discussion. “We are going to come together and show you that we are going to stay hand in hand and you can’t separate us. We are better and more powerful as a group,” he said in explaining his close friendships with other Asian designers and creatives in New York, such as Prabal Gurung, Laura Kim and more, self-named on social media. “That went into intentionally showing people how we actually have friendships, have a good time, share each other’s foods and stories, it’s not programmed. It’s not competitive. It’s not a marketing concept. And my ‘Slaysians’ family got me through the pandemic.”

phillip lim, fashion, nyfw, new york, 3.1 phillip lim, stop asian hate
Lim at the 2018 premiere of “Crazy Rich Asians.” The designer has helped to raise more than $2.2 million to date for AAPI organizations.

Lorenzo echoed Lim’s focus on developing a close-knit community in the fashion industry. “Community allows you to be flexible, to react in an honest way. It’s built around similar principles and ideals with the foundation of empathy. When you have community you can respond and react quickly,” said the designer, who in December inked a long-term partnership with Adidas as head of creative and strategy for the company’s basketball division. “It doesn’t require you to call in a group, because you already have that group. As the times change, as long as we are together in principles and understanding, we can react to other things that are happening in a fluid and malleable way.”

To hear more from Lim’s digital event, click here.

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