People familiar with events for tech-heads including hacking camps and videogame shows and competitions, know that there is usually a positive attitude and a trend towards inclusiveness at such happenings. The same can't be said about fashion: even though the industry is based on international relationships and it is not rare to find in one atelier people from several different nationalities, your weight, shape, silhouette, skin colour, age and sense of style can sadly be the causes of some fascist concern at certain levels.
It was therefore only natural that when Donald Trump's order restricting entry to the USA to people coming from seven Muslim-majority nations (Iraq, Iran, Syria, Somalia, Sudan, Libya and Yemen) hit innocent people and the news causing a major global outrage, while tech companies based in Silicon Valley quickly issued statements or reacted negatively (while some of their professionals actively took part in protests remembering the benefits of an all inclusive society and of having people from all sorts of backgrounds working in their companies), most fashion groups and labels did not openly comment, maybe trying to maintain a neutral stance and avoid siding with one part or the other (the best technique to keep all your consumers...).
Yet there were many other professionals, including designers, photographers, models and key players within the industry who spoke about their indignation: after Trump's travelling ban was issued, Kering chief François-Henri Pinault posted on the company's Twitter account a message reminding that "diversity of origin, opinion and belief" is part of his company's success.
In the same way Nike chief executive Mark Parker issued a statement in which he mentioned the power of diversity and Nike sponsored athlete Mo Farah, a British citizen born in Somalia (and training in Ethiopia when the ban was issued...), while Adidas also reminded its consumers that sport brings people together regardless of their nationality, gender, age, religion or sexual orientation.
The new Chief Creative Officer of Calvin Klein Raf Simons seemed to have more positive messages to share in his menswear collection. Simons' showcased his A/W 2017 designs for the first time in New York (at the Gagosian Gallery's 21st Street space), to an audience that comprised quite a few fashion colleagues such as Joseph Altuzarra, Narciso Rodriguez, Lazaro Hernandez and Jack McCollough.
The Belgian-born designer celebrated the city as a source of endless inspiration playing with Milton Glaser's "I (Heart) NY" logo in a series of oversized fine Merino wool intarsia jumpers and cropped knits (his yarn manufacturers for the next season include Manifattura SESIA and Olimpias Group).
He added to his offer clean cut coats with bold shoulder pads and varsity striped arm warmers (could arm warmers be a trend for the next season?). At times the coats were cinched at the waist with duct tape decorated with slogans such as "Walk With Me", "Youth Project", "I (Heart) You" and buildings from the New York skyline.
There was also an attempt to create a new punk uniform - maybe inspired also by workwear (see the oversized utility shirts with matching pants) - as proved by the message T-shirts with slogans such as "Any Way Out of This", "Out of This Nightmare", "Horror" or "Thank You".
Most designs were accessorised with beaded necklaces that wouldn't have looked out of place in a womenswear collection and that represented one of the many contrasts in this collection that played with dichotomies such as masculine/feminine or tailored/sporty and classic/punkish.
These dichotomies maybe reflected the contrasts Simons lived since he moved to the Big Apple, started working for Calvin Klein and began designing this collection, events that happened before Donald Trump was elected President of the US and that must have been influenced by his election.
Speaking post-show at the Gagosian Gallery, Simons talked about youth energy and not being afraid to speak out, be fearless and use one's voice in all sorts of disciplines - from art and architecture to fashion and writing.
Global revolution will not happen because of Simons, but at least he had the guts to encourage people to speak out, rather than sit and stare and he conveyed his messages via duct tape - a material quite often linked in our collective imagination with horror or violent films where it is often used to silence or gag someone.
There are actually other companies that, in much the same way, seem to have developed ways to go against Donald Trump without even mentioning him.
Acne Studios has for example just unveiled its Spring Campaign, celebrating diversity and featuring portraits of various creatives by Italian photographer Paolo Roversi. The campaign includes Kuwait-born musician and artist Fatima Al Qadiri; Iraqi-born, Sweden-based artist Hayv Kahraman; Iranian-born but New York-based performance artist Sadaf H. Nava, and Iranian actress, musician and singer Golshifteh Farahani.
Looks like Acne Studios may have therefore created - without even using any words or slogans - an unintentionally radical campaign for this Spring. It will be intriguing now to see how the industry will react to the current political climate at the womenswear fashion shows.