As expected, this men’s wear season has brought out the spirit of protest in many designers. Some have been subtle and designed clothes with a punk influence, while others have used words and graphics to explicitly talk about the state of the world.
Willy Chavarria, who showed his collection for the first time at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, fell into the latter category. He used his fall collection, which was titled “Harder” — Chavarria believes now is the time to fight and love harder — to explore oppression, specifically movements led by marginalized people including the Black Power movement, the transgender movement and the Chicano movement.
He relayed these ideas by using models who were all cast from the street, standing in enclosed fenced cages before being released to pose on pedestals.
Chavarria played with classic sports uniforms and emblems, showing red and black tracksuits and T-shirts covered with the Raiders’ logo and graphics that read “Gender Bender.” He styled tailored pieces — oversize pleated pants and camel overcoats — with roomy sweatshirts and knits.
While the line was titled Harder, Chavarria said he kept things supple, using cashmere, baby alpaca and leather. The pieces were sprinkled with little messages of encouragement such as “Savor Kindness” and “Hate Is Fed.” And in true Chavarria fashion — the designer continuously mines the cholo aesthetic — the models, who wore Florsheim oxfords, were adorned with nameplate necklaces with derogatory labels, gold crosses and bamboo earrings.
If Chavarria’s intention was to show the beauty in oppression, he achieved that with an impactful message and interesting clothes.