PYER MOSS: Rewriting the Narrative Through Storytelling
There are successful Black men, and there are successful designers, but there are still very few successful Black designers in the world today. Let alone those using their story to influence social change. For Kerby Jean-Raymond, being a designer is more than just making clothes, it's about ART and storytelling. His story is characterized by great triumph over emotional demons and the loss of his mother at a very young age. It's one of many stories within the Black American narrative that's rarely highlighted when talking about American history. Only recently has Blackness been brought to the surface and is being thread back into American history with the help of cultural change agents.
"You love our culture but you don't love us!"
Society has established systems and spaces that are considered “safe” to explore Blackness, such as Black History Month and the National Museum of African American History and Culture. But not all efforts are as authentic. For example, some brands in fashion prop Blackness on a pedestal as the identifier of progress, when it's really a mask for appropriation and sometimes ignorance. So how does Pyer Moss play into all of this? Well Kerby Jean-Raymond, founder and creative director for Pyer Moss, combats the appropriation of Blackness by displaying true stories of Black lives to normalize Blackness.
"On social media one person brings attention to one thing and it spreads like wild fire."
The Pyer Moss brand DNA "focuses on rewriting us [Black people] back into the story and normalizing blackness” through art. Harnessing the power of storytelling, Kerby not only attracts allies to fight for normalizing Blackness, he’s doing a great amount of healing for the years of racism, prejudice and silencing of voices in America. His affinity for storytelling also comes at an advantage, because he’s slowly reworking American history by stepping behind the curtain of luxury fashion and working in Black Americans best interest.
"If you're just hearing about Pyer Moss, we forgive you."
All this evidence points back to brands challenging norms and disrupting society’s infrastructures, and Kerby is a perfect example of using stories to connect people instead of separating them. He notes that the fashion industry was once split into two parts, 'white fashion' and 'black fashion', and now we’re witnessing a convergence of white fashion into black fashion. His idea is to subtly detail the Black experience through art and fashion to breakdown barriers and spark conversation amongst society to banish appropriation and tokenism, and replace that with love and education.
There's an emphasis on community and it’s highlighted in his collaboration with Reebok called ‘American, Also’, and in a short film directed by Director X. Check it out and more on Pyer Moss.