Homeless-Inspired Menswear Draws Criticism

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Japanese designer Daisuke Obana’s fall 2017 menswear show took inspiration from an unusual source: the homeless, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

The show inspired some controversy on social media. Some people took to Twitter to express distaste of the subject, calling it “a mockery,” “bad taste,” and “appalling” among other disapprovals. One disapproving tweet reads, “new game it’s called ‘homeless or high fashion.'”

Fashion writers from different sources had varying takes on the collection. A Fashionista article by Steve Dool asked “Who let this happen?” over a picture of a hooded model dressed in a bulky, shiny black overcoat and printed vest, reminiscent of plastic garbage bags. The article criticized a sanitizing of the homeless lifestyle in the collection: the clothing, it said, was quality and pricey, and in good condition. Seats at the show had tracts praising homeless Americans for their creativity regarding clothing, such as using bags to cover shoes for waterproofing.

The collection, the article continued, was an insult to the personhood of the homeless, and implied that the measures they go to in order to stay alive were mere fashion choices.

On the other end of reactions to Obana’s collection was Guy Trebay for the New York Times, who said that although people derided the show as evidence that the fashion world was out of touch and insensitive, it recalls “an often invisible population” back to mind.

A 2000 collection by John Galliano drew similar criticisms, says the Hollywood Reporter.  At the time, Galliano defended his collection, saying that fashion drew inspiration from many places that were poor or underprivileged and that people might not want to see “homeless chic” because it hit too close to problems near their own communities, according to the New York Times.

But reactions remained critical, as they do for Obana. If the collections were to inspire critics to positive action on behalf of the homeless, it might be said the runway became a successful advocacy platform. However, the end results remain to be seen.

I'm a lover of words in all forms, sweatshirts in all conditions, and God in all circumstances. I particularly enjoy working collaboratively on the written word and wearing microfiber robes (preferably at the same time). Most of the time I don't get enough sleep, but I make a valiant effort.

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