If you sit for long enough at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport you will see luggage carousels fill up with aluminum-ribbed suitcases, a parade of muted colors, subtly labeled Rimowa. There, the suitcase is so common it is easy to forget that it is a luxury brand, with prices starting at $495 for your basic starter luggage. Perhaps this speaks to the different definitions of luxury. In my mother’s country, using clothing for wealth signaling is less pervasive and luxury is harder to distinguish than in the Canada Goose-rife, Goyard bag-toting landscape that is Cornell. However, young or old, the obsession with the Rimowa luggage continues because of its practicality and quality.
At the recent New York Fashion Week, staff at Pyer Moss’ Spring-Summer 2019 show wore t-shirts emblazoned with the phrase, “If you didn’t know about Pyer Moss before, we forgive you.” This statement, rooted in bravado, was also prophetic, as the five year-old fashion house went on to put on what was arguably the most important show of the season. Founder and designer Kerby Jean-Raymond brought NYFW crowds to Weeksville Heritage Center in Brooklyn, the previous site of one of the first African-American communities in the United States where a 40-person gospel choir sang in models who strode past 19th-century wooden framed houses, creating what Vogue reporter Chioma Nnadi called a “tableau [that] was like something out of a Kerry James Marshall painting”. In an interview with Vogue, Jean-Raymond said that he wanted to use the show to “explore what Black American leisure” looked like in the face of structural racism, where simple existence is systemically deemed threat. The result was a collection that featured beautifully structured suits, silks printed with images from visual artist Derrick Adams and vibrantly patterned athleisure from the Pyer Moss x Reeboks collaboration. Kerby Jean-Raymond is no stranger to the fashion show as medium and embraces experimentation with social commentary and art, having featured a short film on police brutality and a Raphael Saadiq-directed gospel choir in previous Pyer Moss shows.