A Black woman who works in the fashion industry decided to boycott New York Fashion Week: Men’s after the trade failed to acknowledge the innocent lives lost due to police brutality.
Stylist and blogger Hannah Stoudemire posted a notice on Instagram July 11 where she called out the industry for recognizing the Paris Attacks in 2015 and last month’s Orlando shooting but did not do the same for Alton Sterling and Philando Castile. The two men were shot and killed at the hands of police in Baton Rouge, Louisiana and Falcon Heights, Minnesota within 24 hours of each other last week.
The Fashion Industry acknowledged the Paris Attacks and The Orlando Shootings, but not once did they acknowledge the innocent black lives lost to police brutality. Today is Day 1 of NYC Men's Fashion Week and I will not attend this year and I know that my presence will not be missed, nor will it matter and business will carry on as usual, but not for me. I'm just not built that way. How do you think I feel as a Black woman who works in this industry? #BLACKLIVESMATTER #AcknowledgeUs #altonsterling #philandocastile #activism #justice #nyfw #nyfwm #mensfashion #fashion #fashionindustry #blogger #fashionblogger #fashionweek #standup #speakout #wematter #nyc
“Today is Day 1 of NYC Men’s Fashion Week and I will not attend this year,” she wrote. “And I know that my presence will not be missed, nor will it matter and business will carry on as usual, but not for me. I’m just not built that way.”
Stoudemire told Fashionista she originally planned a silent protest for September after getting the idea when Tamir Rice was killed in 2014. She was forced to push the movement up when Alton Sterling was killed July 5.
“I know it sounds bad to say that it happened at the ‘right moment,’ but it did work out to where men’s fashion week was coming up,” she told the website before adding she will boycott the event on her own with no further protests. “And that whole week was very hard for us — I physically grieved them as if they were my own family. So I couldn’t wait, and I wrote my idea out.”
The producer drafted an email and sent it to friends and family, then encouraged them to forward it to many others. The one-day event dubbed “Stop Talking and Do Something” was held Monday morning at New York’s Skylight Clarkson Square during NYFW: Men’s.
Stoudemire and fellow protesters donned Black T-shirts with various statements against police brutality. One shirt had the name of Walter Scott, another Sandra Bland. Stoudemire’s read “Stop. Killing. Us.” They did not chant but instead raised their fists in the air and made their presence known.
“I just want the fashion industry and people in general — the majority of the people represented here today — to acknowledge us,” Stoudemire told Fashionista. “I say this time and time again: They acknowledge black culture, they use it to their advantage, use it on the runways.”
“If you don’t want to acknowledge us, don’t take our stuff. Where would you be? It would be boring, it would be bland,” she continues. “Don’t walk to our music, don’t acknowledge us at all. But you take our culture when it’s convenient to you, and then don’t acknowledge when we’re dying in the street. And this is happening in America.”
The Council of Fashion Designers of America, organizers of NYFW: Men’s, released a statement in response to the “Do Something” protest.
“The CFDA supports the #BlackLivesMatter movement and believes that all lives matter,” CEO Steven Kolb said. “Fashion is about diversity, a notion we celebrate in our NYFW: Men’s campaign this season.”
CFDA also posted a message about the protest on Instagram.