A social commentary on life and it’s countless observations has often been an inspiration for fashion. But none could be as poignant and thought provoking as N. Hoolywood‘s take on homelessness at New York Fashion Week Men (NYFWM).
A cold and neglected inspiration, designer Daisuke Obana created a haphazard runway of misaligned chairs and topsy turvy seating to ape the lives of those wandering around New York’s Penn Station or San Francisco’s Tenderloin. Homelessness is a grave topic, and similar to the political inspirations for fashion shows as well as immigration related ones, this one showcased style in a literally different, dark light.
The designer noticed that people are bundled up, often carrying grocery bags, with no particular destination, nor any choice for apt sizing of garments. Looking at things optimistically, Obana found that the people were actually pretty clever, with smart ideas of how to cover their necessities of life and wander with them. Which is why the show was filled with space blankets or moving blankets fashioned into coats, plastic bags as waterproof rain boots, and an unmistakable match of fabric and print for bags, shoes, or coats, symbolizing the sanctity of the source of protection and cover-ups.
The main themes were of experimental sizing, unconventional layering, and contrasting colors. Oranges were matched with greens, baby blues with garbage greens, faux fur inners with plastic exteriors, shirts as scarves and layers upon layers of shirts, sweaters and woolen knits.
Deliberately contrasting prints were also prominent, with Christmas sweaters matched with Vans checkered shoes, or oversized safety pins on dark green sweaters, perhaps symbolizing the likes of a childhood fable, The Borrowers.
The haphazard styling was in part also a testament to how the homeless acquire their clothes. Hand-me-downs of all sizes from random outlets, a cardigan or shirt from an organization, perhaps a shirt or two from the trash, shoes or accessories left behind on commuter trains, and a beanie found on the street. The collective styling could not be more evocative.
The striking repeated pattern of the word “Survive” on several shirts and jackets and bags truly drove home the notion of being aware and respecting the downtrodden face of society.