PARIS — Kerby Jean-Raymond is expanding his ecosystem for fostering young talent, joining forces with Kering chief François-Henri Pinault on a platform for innovation that represents the next evolution of his multidisciplinary Pyer Moss fashion shows.
The project, dubbed “Your Friends in New York,” will merge sectors from fashion and music to art, philanthropy and wellness in a bid to foster the “next generation of innovators.” It aims to bring together brands, artists and the community in formats including multiday events under the Pyer Moss banner.
Since launching in 2013, Jean-Raymond has made his business a platform for political activism and social justice, producing a short film about police brutality, traveling to North Dakota with donations for pipeline protesters, and creating a collection about economic inequality.
The initiative will house divisions devoted to events and experiences; an incubator-inspired program; philanthropic initiatives, and a merchandise label. The platform unofficially launched in March, but the announcement was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“It is important to me to create and work on ventures that are future forward, involve the community at large and that will continue to help others grow in the fashion and art space,” Jean-Raymond said in a statement.
The first action under the YFINY umbrella, announced in March, was a $50,000 personal donation by Jean-Raymond, with a supporting donation from Kering, for minority and female-owned independent businesses impacted by COVID-19.
“When I met Kerby in 2019, I was impressed by his unique perspective of creativity, innovation, business and social issues. What struck me immediately was his willingness to invent a new, singular model, freeing himself from the usual constraints of the fashion system,” said Pinault.
“It was only natural for Kering to support this project that seeks to empower new artistic talents, to encourage the diversity of creativity and to give a voice to the younger generation of innovators,” the chairman and chief executive officer of Kering added.
The French luxury group has its own philanthropic arm, the Kering Foundation, which focuses on fighting violence against women. Through its Gucci Changemakers fund, it is also investing in community-based programs and distributing scholarships across North America, with the help of a council that includes fashion activist Bethann Hardison and Harlem designer Dapper Dan.
The incubator portion of the YFINY program will provide support for emerging designers and help them grow and explore disruptive business models, while the community outreach will include mental health services for children and residents of public housing.
In a statement on Instagram, Jean-Raymond said he was inspired by successful entrepreneurs ranging from Snap Inc. ceo Evan Spiegel to Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonym used by the person or persons who developed Bitcoin.
“What are they passionate about, even when the world has titled them ‘successful.’ For example, what new sounds are Rick Rubin and Just Blaze experimenting with that they aren’t ready to share with the world? What inventions are Evan Spiegel and Mark Zuckerberg holding onto in their garage? What script is Spike Lee hoping to do that he doesn’t think will get supported?” he wrote.
“For Elon Musk, during his early days building PayPal, his mind was on SpaceX and Tesla — my mind has been here, and I’d like to introduce you to my venture ‘Your Friends In New York.’ We promise to be imperfect but always willing to try,” he added
As part of his commitment to helping creative and design talent, Jean-Raymond leads Reebok Studies, the sneaker brand’s new division where he will pick designers, artists and personalities to produce capsule collections and collaborations.
He said at the WWD CEO Summit in 2019 that he told Reebok he needed his own division to bring in other people to brand, and made it a part of his contract extension.
“We want to help accelerate other brands so that Pyer Moss is not the one that walked in the door and closed it behind them,” Jean-Raymond said. “I broke through the window so I can leave the door open, that’s my method. I look forward to helping designers build businesses and I don’t care about taking anyone’s equity, I really just want to help. This is what representation is — when you have a chance, you take other people up with you.”
During the pandemic, Jean-Raymond unveiled plans to hold drive-in premieres for his film, “American, Also,” exploring his runway shows and the Black experience in America. The film is still set to be released, but no date or format has been confirmed.
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