In this case, “urban outdoor living” translates to metropolitan homelessness.

It’s not a first either: The week before, N.HOOLYWOOD employed similar inspiration for NYFW:M, something designer Daisuke Obana communicated with slightly less finesse than Gypsy Sport’s Creative Director, Rio Uribe. “This season features designs that embrace [a homeless person’s] unique style of combining traditionally contrasting elements, such as unconventional layering or senses or color, along with experimental sizing,” read Obana’s show notes.

Uribe took a more overtly heartfelt approach to justifying his inspiration. The designer made it clear that he had already factored in the pros and the cons of a “homelessness inspired collection,” and was trying his damnedest not to end up on the con side of things. Speaking directly to the audience from backstage, Uribe opened by delivering a thoughtful monologue on inclusion, compassion and the tumultuousness of the times. “The Fall/Winter ’17 collection was inspired honestly by people who live on the street and just don’t have much fashion in their life or any of the luxuries that we take for granted,” began the designer before discussing his own firsthand experiences with seeing homelessness in Paris’s refugee camps.

“I don’t want anyone who is gay or Muslim or disabled or mentally ill or a veteran or a drug addict or a runaway to have to live on the street just because someone’s not willing to give them a chance. So when you see the looks today, and you see all of the tent shapes all the other styles that we made, I want you to take a second to think about all the people who do live on the street. You don’t have to give everyone a dollar, but just remember you can smile at people and that helps a lot,” Uribe finished before turning the audience’s attention back to the stage, which had been converted into a makeshift tent camp.

With two designers taking inspiration from such a vulnerable, often ignored community, one might fear the potential for it to become an empty trend. If that were to occur, it’s easy to envision a scenario in which such collections would fall afoul of this generation’s penchant for clicktavism. Metaphorically employing a group of people, who, due to circumstance, have no choice in what they wear and no voice in the actual fashion community does feel like the grayest of areas between inspiration and exploitation.

Eva Al Desnudo

Yet Gypsy Sport’s looks – from grooming to styling – didn’t feel as though they were fetishizing or romanticizing the lives of the homeless. Instead, there was a well-conceived offering with plenty of continuity – be it in the heavy use of camo or the constant reappearance of sheer, black, torn spandex material. The allusions to homelessness were less about the actual clothing and apparent in the set design and Uribe’s attention to layering. Paralleling the sartorial choices of those who don’t actually have a choice, the layers did come across as haphazardly put together; a pure result of function rather than style.

Uribe didn’t mention it in his show intro, but W Magazine reported that Gypsy Sport was giving part of the collection’s proceeds to the Bowery Mission. In an era where activism has become the new brand hook, it feels particularly significant and sincere that Uribe chose to fly under the radar with what could’ve potentially been the biggest “policy play” of the show.

For the latest fashion week content and updates see be sure to read all of our Fashion Week FW17 stories.  

Words by Stephanie Smith-Strickland