“Business of Fashion 500 is now 499” – Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss Dissociates Himself From BOF
Yesterday evening, the Business of Fashion held their annual BOF 500 gala, calling it a night where “inclusivity takes centre stage” However, Kerby Jean-Raymond of Pyer Moss, and a chorus of other attendees at the event thought otherwise. In a deeply personal and intensely detailed article on The Medium, Jean-Raymond writes that he is completely dissociating himself from the publication and their annual BOF 500 list, to which he was inducted yesterday. The designer details that the Business of Fashion has “gaslighted” him and “monetised” on his culture for personal gain, asking the question: “was the intent all along to milk people like me for insight into our community, repackage it and resell it back to larger corporations with no intent of making real change?”
Jean-Raymond explains that the full story behind his relationship with BOF started when the publication asked him to take part in a solo talk at last year’s BOF Voices event. Then, whilst on the flight to the event, Jean-Raymonds team was informed that the designer would instead be taking part in a group panel, a format the designer has expressed his disinterest in being part of, due to the fashion media’s tendency to “lump us all in, ‘Black in Fashion’ or ‘Diversity & Inclusion’ when the reality is my family is vastly different, making strides in every category.” After the panel took place, a further “Salon” conversation happened, which Jean-Raymond claims became “heated and problematic”, prompting the designer and some of his fellow peers to leave the event early.
Following this, and after an apology from Business of Fashion’s CEO Imran Amed, an offer to appear as one of the three cover stars of the publication’s annual BOF 500 physical publication was made, and Jean-Raymond agreed to speak with Amed over the phone and then meet on multiple occasions. In these meetings, Jean-Raymond revealed to Amed the secret projects he was working on outside the Pyer Moss brand, including his appointment at Reebok before it was ever announced, and gave Amed an extensive list of “diverse” creatives he should include in the 2019 edition of the publication – including Telfar Clemens, Jessie Williams and Andre Walker.
Shortly after Ahmed’s final meeting with Jean-Raymond, the designer explains that he received a text from the CEO saying “we are going to go a different route with the cover.” This “different route,” meant that Jean-Raymond was no longer a cover star for the issue, and none of the creatives on the list the designer provided Ahmed with were included in the publication. With some reluctance, Jean-Raymond still attended the annual gala but The Medium article outlines his frustration which grew throughout the evening – from the gospel choir performing to a “room full of white people” to Amed failing to include Jean-Raymond in his shout-outs, to his list of leaders in “Diversity and Inclusion” seemingly taken from big-spending brands and publications.
Jean-Raymond outlines similar frustrations felt by various other attendees of the gala, stating that “homage without empathy and representation is appropriation. Instead, explore your own culture, religion and origins. By replicating ours and excluding us — you prove to us that you see us as a trend. Like, we gonna die black, are you?”
Photograph by Jason Lloyd-Evans.