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  • Writer's pictureLaura Rocha

At Global Fashion Collective, Reclamation and Rollercoasters

Justin Jacob Louis begins with a collection inspired by his Indigenous roots; HYPER COUTURE drowns in graffiti.


Global Fashion Collective opened its series of four NYFW shows with HYPER COUTURE and Justin Jacob Louis. In the collective’s spirit of providing a platform for new and established designers — and helping designers “increase their global brand presence” — these showcases diversify what’s typically seen at major fashion weeks, and this first show was no exception.

Justin Jacob Louis used a good part of his runway time to showcase his ancestral culture, with song and dance by members of the Samson Cree Nation — one of the First Nations in what is today considered Canadian territory. In traditional outfits, the runway was livened by drums and singing. One of the community members explained their presence at Fashion Week by stating that fashion is dance, and shared the unshakable tagline: “This isn’t fast fashion — this is first fashion.” Providing space on the runway for Louis’ community was a political act, as another performing community member explained: “Not too long ago we would’ve been arrested for doing this — until 1974 (sic), when the United States passed a law that allowed us to practice our religion.” (The law was later passed in 1978).

As I watched the first half of Louis’ runway show, I felt a bit uncomfortable: reclaiming this space is by all means necessary — but who is the NYFW audience? And that dreaded question: who are these clothes for? However, as we got more context and understood what Louis was doing — sharing the space, showing a much smaller collection than he could have to allow the reclaiming to happen on the runway — it seemed exactly aligned with what the Global Fashion Collective promises to do.

Then, when we got to see Louis’ clothes — a street-style collection with symbols alluding to his community and ancestry, shown by Indigenous models — I wished the platform he got was much, much larger.

HYPER COUTURE, on the other hand, stuck to its original concept: “FASHION THEME PARK.” The collection was made up of bright neons and textures that were reminiscent of grime — like ripped graffiti off a global metropolis’ walls, wrapped around the body. It closed with a bride and groom in graffiti’d denim, a playful concept that remains somewhat trivial. Not that we should expect anything different from a theme park. 🌀



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