WORDS BY NATALIE YIASSOUMI
Aurora James and Kerby Jean Raymond got together to design a footwear capsule that paid homage to Black creatives and their often-unrecognised contributions to American culture.
The new Brother Vellies and Pyer Moss shoe collaboration is a true meeting of the minds.
Designers Aurora James and Kerby Jean-Raymond have been longtime friends and leading voices in fashion’s fight against racism, so their coming together isn’t just a marketing ploy to promote their respective brands, but a joint effort to use creativity – and the art of shoes – to celebrate Black creatives and their important contributions to American pop culture, which have been going unnoticed.
Their capsule – which is part of the Pyer Moss ‘Collection 3’ ready-to-wear range – is inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe, a singer-and-songwriter whose gospel sounds helped shape rock-n-roll as we know it today.
In honor of Tharpe, the two designers created footwear that was all about a bold attitude and a sense of optimism, with bright colors dominating the range.
There are heeled sock ankle boots in bright pink shades; stilettos featuring sharp triangle toes and multicolor straps and sexy knee-high boots, with the Pyer Moss logo printed at the top.
One of the standout pieces includes a pair of high-heel boots printed with artwork by Richard Phillips that depicts Tharpe. Phillips is a Black artist who had been wrongfully accused for murder in the Seventies and imprisoned for 38 years, before being released in 2014.
I am proud of what my friend Aurora and I created,” said Jean-Raymond. “Collection 3 was partly inspired by Sister Rosetta Tharpe and other Black women in music, so honouring their contributions by collaborating with Brother Vellies felt like home.”
Jean-Raymond was honored with the CFDA’s American men’s wear award earlier this year and has been committed to using his platform to talk about cultural and social change as much as fashion: This year alone he converted his New York office to a PPE donation center for healthcare professionals, donated $100,000 to help small creative businesses by women and minorities, launched a new platform to support young creatives and is currently running a “Vote or Die” campaign to encourage his audience to cast their vote for the U.S. election.
Similarly James has been spearheading a campaign of her own in partnership with Michelle Obama’s ‘When We All Vote’ non-profit organization; her 15 percent pledge continues to challenge retailers to commit to stocking 15 percent Black-owned labels; and she also made plenty of headlines when she graced the September cover of Vogue wearing Pyer Moss.
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