The fashion industry is saying ‘farewell’ to Kanye West
Updated: Oct 31, 2022
October has become a make-or-break moment for Kanye West’s career. It all started on October 3rd, after West’s surprise YZYS9 presentation at Paris Fashion Week turned into mass backlash when he sent “White Lives Matter” t-shirts down the runway. Showgoers like Jaden Smith supposedly walked out of the show after seeing the t-shirts, and soon after, social media was on fire with responses from people in the fashion industry, including Vogue‘s fashion editor and stylist Gabriella Karefa-Johnson. Since West’s fashion show and due to his responsive behavior on social media, fashion brands have severed ties with the rapper.
Karefa-Johnson is not only the fashion editor for the most highly acclaimed fashion magazine in the world but is also the first Black woman to style the cover of Vogue in 2021. Ye’s Fashion Week presentation was something that caused dismay. Therefore Karefa-Johnson took to her Instagram stories to write that “the t-shirts this man conceived, produced and shared with the world are pure violence,” adding that “there is no excuse, there is no art here,” and calling it “indefensible behavior.” The global contributing fashion editor goes on to say that although she could see that West might’ve created the shirt in a “Duchampian” sense, “it didn’t land, and it was deeply offensive, violent, and dangerous.”
This statement did not settle well with West, which resulted in him posting a now-deleted picture of Karefa-Johnson with his 18.2 million followers on Instagram, mocking her boots, and saying in the caption that “This is not a fashion person.” In an official statement on October 4th, Vogue US posted to their 40.9 million Instagram followers, saying, “Vogue stands with Gabriella Karefa-Johnson, our global fashion editor at large and longtime contributor. She was personally targeted and bullied. It is unacceptable. Now more than ever, voices like hers are needed, and in a private meeting with Ye today, she once again spoke her truth in a way she felt best, on her terms”. As of October 14th, a Vogue Spokesperson told PageSix that neither the magazine nor its editor-in-chief Anna Wintour intends to work with Kanye West again.
Vogue is not the only entity saying its farewell to West. On October 18th, Adidas terminated its partnership with West adding that they would stop the production of all Yeezy-branded products and stop payments to West and his companies. That same day Gap released a statement saying it was “taking immediate steps to remove Yeezy Gap product from its stores and take down YeezyGap.com.” A few days later, Balenciaga announced on October 20th that they no longer had a relationship with the rapper-turned-designer.
Kanye West would be foolish to think he would not receive backlash for his presentation at Paris Fashion Week. I think the attention on social media and the press he receives for his ridiculous actions are why he does it in the first place. But is all press good press? If you care more about your reputation, then no, only some press is good, but if you care more about your notoriety, then all press can be good. I think it’s clear West loves people talking about him, even if it creates a bad reputation for him, so to him, this is all a win in his head because he has millions of people talking about him. However, when it goes the length of posting pictures of people who disagree with you, like Karefa-Johnson, and making fun of what they’re wearing, you can only be malicious in nature and a bully.
Additionally, is acting out in harmful ways to make a statement worth your career? With huge brands saying their goodbyes, he will be left with less and less to work with and hardly any supporters. Who’s to say Kanye West will be known for anything but throwing away his career?
West sees himself as equal or even better to such an affluent and fashion-forward entity like Vogue when that is not the reality. He wanted to slam someone like Karefa-Johnson to make Vogue look silly for speaking out against his “fashion,” but not only is he a social media troll, he is digging himself a deeper hole no PR team will be able to fix. I agree and stand with Vogue, Balenciaga, Adidas, and Gap for severing their ties with West, and I am curious to see who else follows the lead. Unfortunately, I don’t see this being what stops him from more ridiculous stunts and harmful rants.
By Erin Barker
Erin is a fourth year at San Diego State University and is originally from Denver, Colorado. She will graduate in May with a degree in Journalism with an emphasis in Public Relations. After graduation, she dreams of working in the fashion industry.