BEING A DESIGNER comes with much power and responsibility, and Kerby Jean-Raymond takes his job very seriously. Yes, he dresses many of Hollywood’s elite men, but he also designs with a true sense of purpose. Last year, he broke the Internet with his “They Have Names” T-shirt, which prominently featured the names of 13 unarmed Black men slain by law enforcement officers. He didn’t do it for mere shock value or for a spike in online sales (proceeds went to the American Civil Liberties Union) but solely to develop a narrative that declares to the world the lives of Black men matter. We caught up with the maverick to talk inspiration, style and making his work a vehicle for change. —ENG
Describe the birth and growth of Pyer Moss.
KJR: I started as a luxury womenswear designer. I didn’t have intentions of starting a men’s collection until I had a need to find clothes that fit me properly. It began with a leather jacket, and the collection just grew from there.
Do you allow social media to influence your designs?
KJR: Absolutely! I have [the privilege of seeing] what my customers wear every day; of course, I’m going to take that into consideration when I’m creating for them. It’s like having the cheat codes to a video game.
How would you describe style as it relates to African-American men?
KJR: African-American men have long been creators of some of the most important trends in history. Once our music went global, so did our styles and other parts of our culture. I believe right now you’re seeing much more than just acceptance of our style but acknowledgement as well, especially in the high-end fashion community.
Read more in the October 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.