February 01, 2017

New York Fashion Week: Ode to the Hemp Plant



 The visual components of the elements of art include colour, form, line, shape, space, texture and value.  Much of contemporary fashion is based heavily on colour, form and shape.  All three were vibrantly employed at this year's New York Fashion Week; in regard to shape, the hemp leaf’s was highly present this year.  

Alexander Wang, American designer and former creative director of Balenciaga, embodied the cannabis movement throughout much of his newest collection which debuted at Saint Bartholomew's Church during New York Fashion Week.  If fashion is a reflection of our times, Wang's aesthetic was a flawless mirror.  The collection, as the show notes elucidated, "deliberately opposed standard definitions of beauty and taste."  Wang's runway models wore skate style tweed and leather street wear, trashy tops, ski caps, camo parkas, skirt suits and slinky coat-dresses, some emboldened with declarative captions such as "girls," "tender," and "strict," but many others with print of the cannabis plant's leaves.  The shape of the cannabis leaf materialized as intarsias on dresses, coats, skirts and also handbags giving new meaning to a “bag of weed.”  Wang's notoriously urban designs tapped into the youths' green culture revolution this year and I'm sure garnered the attention of both hemp and cannabis enthusiasts alike.

New collections of cannabis themed clothing brands showcase that the time of cannabis prohibition has passed away and individuals can freely express their attitudes towards the plant.  However, many other brands have also appropriated the power of the hemp leaf without necessarily utilizing it in their manufacturing process.  While hemp clothing is vastly more durable than that which is made out of cotton, marijuana themed clothing that is still manufactured with cotton is not as durable; or sustainable for that matter.  The hemp leaf shape was also found in the designs of Scott Studenberg and John Targon of Baja East.  Similarly, herb-minded designer LG Maki’s “Mary Jane Runway” brand’s stylish, artistic and colorful collection was at Fashion Week making its mark on the fashion industry.  Inspired by the cannabis plant, Maki’s art aimed to reverse the stigma of hemp’s notoriously illicit cousin, marijuana.

     Many of this year’s New York Fashion Week designs were not so much a big step as they were a giant leap forward in the cannabis themed fashion arena.  Cannabis couture can be comparably juxtaposed to punk rock which was once considered vagrant, but is now a mainstream style and culture born from its own sub-culture.  Celebrities are already cosigning marijuana themed clothing companies giving way to a more mainstream cannabis culture.  Who knows where we will see hemp's influence next, but I for one hope to see its prevalence in street wear and couture steadily grow not only with shape and hues, but most importantly textile choice.  Would you wear this collection?  Let us know in the comments below.  Stay cut from a different cloth.  Stay sustained.