In tone-deaf fashion news of the day, menswear label N. Hoolywood presented a runway collection inspired by the nation’s homeless youth—or as the brand’s designer Daisuke Obana told WWD, “gutter punk.” Hmm.
A browse through the Japanese streetwear label’s looks show the itinerant theme interpreted through fairly literal styling, but with luxurious fabrics and textures: tweedy button-downs or chunky knits loosely tied around the shoulders for warmth, bulkily layered hoodies over woolly skullcaps, too-baggy, thrift shop-looking cropped trousers (you know, like clothes people wear to stay warm, not because they Uber’d to Williamsburg’s Kinfolk for a pair of ironically voluminous flared tweed pants). Some looks were accessorized with what looked to be PVC updates on Hefty garbage bags or plastic printed drawstring ones—but not to be used for practical purposes, like holding all of one’s earthly possessions.
According to Fashionista, even the choreography of the show uncomfortably communicated the inspiration: “Most unsettling was what appeared to be the direction the models were given. They walked slowly, slumped over, heads hanging low, staring at the floor. For a show that dubiously claimed to be about celebrating the ingenuity of people down on their luck, the body language read like a pantomime of the shame associated with poverty.”
According to the nonprofit group the True Colors Fund, up to 1.6 million youth will experience homelessness each year, and up to 40 percent are LGBTQ. Internationally speaking, 67 percent of the migrants arriving in Europe from war-torn and crisis-affected countries like Syria, Somalia, and Afghanistan were between the ages of 14 and 34 in 2015. And refugees stranded and literally freezing literally to death in wintry Europe and finding their options limited due to Trump’s Muslim travel ban probably aren’t thinking of what they’ll be wearing come fall 2017. Maybe N. Hoolywood was trying to highlight the resourcefulness, hope, and humanity in the plight of homeless youth in America and abroad, but turning an epidemic and true crisis into a fashion statement feels more than just tasteless, especially right now.