With all that is happening in the world—from pandemic worries to a global unrest regarding police brutality—fashion must go on. And to note, it’s transitioning into an industry that is becoming more aware. You would think style would be the last thing on anyone’s mind, but now more than ever the industry is utilizing its voice. “As society begins to reckon with those inequities, fashion has to acknowledge its own hand in that,” Marjon Carlos tells ESSENCE.
Carlos, as well as other industry insiders, has partnered with Danish fashion brand Ganni during Copenhagen Fashion Week for a three-day exhibition exploring the decade to come. Carlos will be presenting a spoken essay about dealing with what is next after the pandemic. This week Ganni, which always seeks to release though-provoking collections, will be revealing its first capsule with Levi’s, titled Love Letter. “This year feels like a decade in itself. It’s been a roller coaster, but despite everything we are still motivated by the new roads ahead and what we have learned so far,” exclaims Ditte Reffstrup, Ganni’s creative director.
This is not the first instance Ganni has shown its dedication for the advancement beyond this critical time period. Just last month, the brand partnered with Richie Shazam in support for Black Trans Lives by donating to The Marsha P. Johnson Institute and FOR THE GWORLS.
“The industry has upheld exclusionary praxes that it needs to challenge and upend to remain relevant to the lives we will be living.” —Marjon Carlos
ESSENCE got a chance to chat with Carlos about her ongoing partnership with Ganni and fashion’s responsibility during this time.
ESSENCE: How has working with the Ganni brand been?
Marjon Carlos: At this point, Ganni feels like family–we’ve traveled across the country together last fall from New Orleans to Dallas, and I went to Copenhagen back in January. The same type of warmth and levity you detect in their clothes are found in the people that make up the brand. But it’s not just about clothes: as a writer, I have found it’s always an honor to share my voice and ideas with them. I appreciate the collaboration, the community, the exchange.
I know that with this new Ganni initiative, you will be contributing a spoken essay. Can you tell me a little bit about what we can expect?
I spoke to how I have been dealing with the aftermath of the pandemic and learning to trust life again. It’s a heartbreaking conceit, but it’s hard to plan for a future that doesn’t feel guaranteed. I don’t do empty platitudes. [Laughs] So I talk about that very real struggle.
With this exhibit, one of the questions is, “Where do we go from here?” Do you think that fashion has a responsibility to also speak to social issues? Is that “our place”?
Fashion is a magical thing–the right piece, shoe, bag or accessory is simply transportive and mood altering. Fashion can help us see ourselves. But by and large, fashion is about exclusion. Luxury is about the haves and the have nots; garments that are aspirational and rare to the masses and offered only to a select few. I mean, fashion is cost prohibitive. So it’s fundamentally set upon an imbalance and has contributed to social inequities: the privileging of certain people’s lives, beauty, bodies and stories over others. Of course, fashion and clothes are reflections of the time and have political value. They can be sites of resistance and protest, but the industry has upheld exclusionary praxes that it needs to challenge and upend to remain relevant to the lives we will be living.
I know that fashion week is a little different this year. What are you going to miss, if anything? Why and why not?
I’ll miss cheering on my friends as they debut their collections and walk the runway.
Most important, during this crazy time, how are you staying creative?
Recently I have been getting so much work, and I was a bit overwhelmed emotionally as I was still dealing with the fallout of COVID and the racial trauma brought on by the deaths of Breonna Taylor, George Floyd and Ahmaud Arbery. I wanted to take on every opportunity, but I told myself to just focus on the things that were truly special. So I have split my intentions through quality work and rest. What has evolved since is some very exciting writing assignments in the pipeline and starting my own IGTV advice show, Your Favorite Auntie. It has become a form of catharsis and community building that I cherish.