proenza schouler’s designers speak out about their diverse casting

“The world is a fucked up place these days and more than ever it feels right (and good) to speak up about the things you find important and just.”

Apr 19 2017, 3:15pm

For their latest lookbook, Proenza Schouler whisks us away to the leafy backwaters of Bushwick, Brooklyn, where a diverse cast of mostly trans and gender-fluid models showcase the label's pre-fall collection. Shot by Ethan James Green and styled by Camilla Nickerson, the campaign is a celebration of beauty in all its many forms. Of course, this isn't the first time a luxury label has introduced gender non-conforming models to their campaigns and catwalks, but it can sometimes feel like tokenism. Here it's the total opposite. It's progressive and refreshing. Here, designers Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez explain their decision and discuss why the industry should be held accountable for its "lacklustre" approach to diversity.

What was impetus behind casting such diverse models?
The whole thing started around an image we thought was vintage but then realised was shot by Ethan. It was kind or a full circle moment when we called up Ethan to shoot the collection and asked him to bring some of his friends.

Diversity has become part of the cultural conversation in a way that it never quite managed before, why do you think this is?
The world is a fucked up place these days and more than ever it feels right (and good) to speak up about the things you find important and just. Diversity in our industry has been embarrassingly lacklustre over the years and so with this shoot, we felt it was right to go there and really celebrate it.

How can we stop this push towards diversity just being another trend?
We have to stay consistent with this kind of messaging. We think (and hope) this is something here to stay and we have to fight against forces that are trying to white-coat the world and undo all the progress we have made culturally in the last few years. New York has never felt more diverse than it feels now. The kids are taking self expression and ownership of their identities to entirely new level.

What's next for Proenza Schouler?
Paris in July! It's an idea we have been tossing around for a couple of years now. After over 10 years of showing in New York, we wanted to switch it up a bit, take a risk, try something new. We are showing during Couture because as a company we have decided to fold our pre-collection and main collection into one bigger collection and show it early, during traditional pre-collection time, which happens to coincide with the Couture in Paris. This move felt like the next logical step for us and a way to find some balance somehow and besides, we have always had a great respect for Paris as the world capital of Fashion.


Text Tish Weinstock