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Fashion insiders declare 'I Am an Immigrant' in new video

Last Updated Feb 17, 2017 at 11:40 am EST

NEW YORK, N.Y. – While some fashion designers have always been overtly political, the recently wrapped New York Fashion Week just a month after President Donald Trump’s inauguration included a broader range of brands addressing these tumultuous times.

On Friday, the day after shows concluded, W magazine took on one element, Trump’s position on immigration, in a video featuring designers, models, photographers and industry activists and insiders who are, themselves, immigrants.

The video, shot in a studio over six hours during the frenzy of fashion week, has them looking directly into the camera and saying “I Am an Immigrant,” with each uttering part of that declaration in a show of unity. The video is accompanied on Wmagazine.com by an editorial written by Katherine Cusumano and the effort is part of a series of web content covering the intersection of fashion and politics.

The magazine’s editor, Stefano Tonchi, said in an interview Thursday ahead of the video’s release that the “I Am an Immigrant” video, running about a minute, is intended as a “united and defiant” statement against Trump’s travel ban and other immigration policies from inside the fashion industry.

Participants include designer Diane von Furstenberg, models Doutzen Kroes and Winnie Harlow, photographers Inez van Lamsweerde and Mario Sorrenti, and fashion activist Bethann Hardison.

“Fashion designers and models have every responsibility, now more than ever, because young people through social media are really influenced by their opinions,” said Tonchi, who arrived in the United States from Florence, Italy, 25 years ago and became an American citizen about five years ago.

“Fashion has not been taking enough responsibility, and they can do much more,” said Tonchi, who also appears in the video. “Fashion is always a mirror of society.”

This fashion week was heavier than usual on politics and social issues, both on and off runways.

Jonathan Simkhai handed out “Feminist AF” T-shirts to his front-row guests. Prabal Gurung walked models for his finale in T-shirts emblazoned with “Yes, We Should All Be Feminists” and “The Future is Female.” Christian Siriano included a shirt on one model with the words: “People are People.”

There were white bandannas worn by designers and models walking shows signifying unity, and pink buttons passed out declaring that “Fashion Stands with Planned Parenthood.” Public School designers Maxwell Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne riffed on Trump’s red campaign caps reading “Make America Great Again” with their own version: “Make America New York.”

“Then you get to Raf Simons and he’s just celebrating being a foreigner in America. That was the most important show of the season, and he just celebrated America,” said W’s creative and fashion director, Edward Enninful, of Simons’ debut at Calvin Klein.

Enninful was born in Ghana and raised in the United Kingdom. He, too, appears in the video.

“Designers are expressing empathy, joy, everybody is treating the current political climate in their own way,” Enninful said. “There’s not one way to respond to today. There’s not one way you can celebrate or you can protest.”

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