Maxwell Osborne, co-creative director of the fashion lines Public School and DKNY, is joining the chorus of voices in the fashion industry that are speaking up about the Black Lives Matter movement.
The designer penned a moving open letter for W magazine’s website, sharing the experience of his first protest and imploring fellow fashion insiders to use their talents and platforms to speak against the violence that African-American women and men face in America.
“Last Thursday afternoon, I left my office in the Garment District, called a group of friends – black, white, Asian, mixed – and we all headed down to Union Square together to join hundreds of others in a peaceful protest of the fatal shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile,” Osborne wrote. “…I felt I needed to be out there with Black Lives Matter, show face and feel it. I’m 33 years old and it was my first time taking part in a protest.”
The New York City-based designer joins the many people in fashion who have spoken out since the recent killings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile.
In an industry that is often overwhelmingly mum on the Black Lives Matter Movement, save for a small pool of designers, models and advocates, it’s a sign that a deeper cord has been struck.
Osborne reveals that as a Black man in the fashion industry, race is never far from his mind but asserts that his main focus is making a change with his given talents and encouraging his counterparts to do the same.
“I write this open letter to encourage the fashion industry to not just continue the dialogue of race in America, but to do something about it,” says Osborne. “Fashion is always at its best when it looks outside of itself for inspiration and holds up a mirror to society.”
He continues, “Stand with Black Lives Matter. Go out and educate yourself and learn how you can help and join the conversation as an active participant and not just as a passive, if well-meaning, observer. Encourage diversity on your runways and campaigns. Empower your social media fans to raise their voices. Use your designs for the public good. Attend a protest and see change in action. Raise awareness – it’s not as empty a gesture as it may seem – and others will follow your lead.”
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