On Saturday, Kerby Jean-Raymond, the man behind New York-based label Pyer Moss, continued to explore what it means to be Black in America. In February, he introduced his first capsule collection of unisex ready-to-wear clothing and footwear designed in partnership with Reebox. “Our hope is to continue to challenge traditional narratives of minority groups in this country and tell uplifting stories within our work, which encourage inclusion,” Jean-Raymond said of ‘Part One,’ which told the story of Black cowboys.
Now, in Part Two, titled ‘American, Also. Lesson 2,’ the designer is humanizing the Black love story. According to a press release, Pyer Moss’s spring 2019 collection “created a world devoid of angst of racism and imagined what Black American life would be like if it were had been left untouched, unmolested, and unbothered.” Jean-Raymond’s clothing only scratches the surface of a well thought-out experience described by himself on Instagram as “the greatest shit ever happened in Brooklyn yesterday.”
Here are 6 of the most important takeaways from Jean-Raymond’s latest offering.
The Collection Was Inspired By A Travel Guide
The Negro Motorist Green Book was published yearly from 1936 to 1966 to help Black travelers navigate racist towns and its people, listing establishments where they would be welcome during segregation.
Pyer Moss Showed In Brooklyn For A Particular Reason
Jean-Raymond showed his collection (on the label’s fifth anniversary) at the Weeksville Heritage Center in Weeksville, Brooklyn, one of the country’s first free-Black community. James Weeks founded the area, just a little over 10 years after slavery was abolished in New York. This is significant because Jean-Raymond took full ownership of his brand and its creative direction just under a year ago.
A full gospel choir stood in front of the Weeksville restored homes singing songs like Stevie Wonder’s “Heaven Is 10 Zillion Light Years Away” and Fast Life Yungstaz’s “Swag Surfin.'”
…And Motifs Of Activism
Several pieces in the collection spoke to the Black experience, literally, including a T-Shirt that read “Stop Calling 911 On The Culture” and a cummerbund with “See Us Now” stitched on it.
An Artist Designed Pieces Specifically For The Collection
Derrick Adams created 10 paintings that were woven throughout the collection, including a Black man grilling burgers printed on a simple white T-Shirt, and a black page boy, and a flower girl at a wedding on an oversized silk shirt.
Last season, Jean-Raymond worked with Cross Colours. This season, 1990s streetwear label FUBU, or For Us By Us, partnered with him on a capsule. “We wanted to highlight designers that weren’t seen,” Jean-Raymond told Vogue. “These companies grossed hundreds of millions in their prime, but weren’t recognized in the same way that brands like Donna Karan were because they were considered urban, not fashion.”
As Jean-Raymond told Vanity Fair backstage, “What does a mundane Saturday look like when we’re just left alone? What is black leisure wear?” Well, it looks beautiful, luxurious, and crisp.
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