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Skid Row Fashion Week Streetwear Aims to Fight Homelessness in L.A. – WWD

SkidRow Fashion Week is a fledgling streetwear brand that aims to help people escape homelessness in LA, one t-shirt at a time.

The brainchild of recording artist Warner Music and culture provocateur David Sabastian and skating vet Rich Marshall, SkidRow Fashion Week operates out of a print shop on the corner of downtown Main Street. city Los Angeles. On any given day, a handful of freelancers living on nearby Skid Row make money with silk-print socks, t-shirts and hoodies featuring motivational slogans, crosses, black cherries, and other graphics that make the Yeezy, Fiorucci, and Corita Kent remember.

“The last thing the world needs is a song or another t-shirt, so I thought that if we were to start a fashion business, it had to have an impact,” said Sabastian of the startup. around”. successful social enterprise at LA Homeboy Industries. “When I was growing up in Torrance, there was a large homeless community down the 110 freeway near my house and I developed friendships there,” he added. “But too often, the homeless are forgotten. They’ve said they’ve been cleaning Skid Row for years, but the bigger issue is recovery and opportunity. That’s the feature of this, you buy more clothes, you help more people because the clothes are made by people in the community. “

The brand worked with downtown LA neighborhood council member Wendell Blassingame, known as the “Saint of Skid Row,” to recruit about 28 workers over time, people like Sandra and Red, who have been was on a recent visit, and people with Sabastian’s name and face are painted on a mural outside the store.

Skidrow Fashion Week

Community activist Wendell Blassingame, left, and David Sabastian.
Michael Buckner / WWD

“People talk a lot… these people go for a walk,” says longtime community activist Blassingame from his desk, where he sits daily at San Julian Park in Skid Row, a 50-block area in downtown LA that intersects the Fashion District and the Arts District, where many businesses and tony stores have opened in recent years. “We had to change the meaning of Skid Row,” he added, acknowledging the importance of using a name on a clothing brand.

LA has an estimated homeless population of about 60,000, with a history dating back to the late 19th century when unemployed men settled in the area around the South Pacific Railroad passenger terminal that today now known as Skid Row. During the pandemic, the city saw an increase in the number of fences on the Venice Boardwalk and elsewhere, and public opinion was mixed on what to do. California’s new state budget has allocated a record $4.8 billion to cause spending over the next two years.

Skidrow Fashion Week

SkidRow Fashion Week hat.
Michael Buckner / WWD

“When he said he wanted to do something on Skid Row, I thought of Patagonia, Toms shoes, Kind bars… The future of corporations,” said Marshall, who met Sabastian at the MAGIC trade show in Las Vegas. social impact”. They launched the brand in 2019 for $2000, started selling at the Melrose Trading Post flea market. In addition to providing temporary employment, they regularly distribute donations of shirts, socks, food, and other supplies to Skid Row.

As a rapper who has listed his fashion experience working with Steve Aoki, Drake, and FourTwoFour, Sabastian is known for staging provocative stunts, including a Gucci bonfire that he did. held in 2019 to protest this brand’s controversial turtleneck sweater that looks like a black face. (Following public outcry, Gucci apologized, removed it from store shelves, and increased diversity and inclusion efforts.) To promote SkidRow Fashion Week, he organized a guerrilla pop-up store in front of Dover Street Market in the Arts District on July 31, which the retailer is aware of and doesn’t stop at. Brands are also available online.

The next step is to find funding to scale and formalize the return aspect of the business, which they aim for at 10%.

“We have proven that we can sell things around the world that are produced and shipped by the Skid Row community,” said Marshall, who received orders from as far back as Croatia. “Once this exploded, we had big ideas about buying land and creating opportunities for transformational learning,” says Sabastian. “I also want to do fashion shows.”

Not just a stunt but a full body moment.

Product shot for the story during Skid Row Fashion Week in Los Angeles, California on June 10, 2021.

SkidRow Fashion Week T-shirt.
Michael Buckner for WWD

https://wwd.com/fashion-news/fashion-features/skid-row-fashion-week-brand-tackling-homelessness-in-l-a-one-shirt-at-a-time-1234885750/ | Skid Row Fashion Week Streetwear Aims to Fight Homelessness in L.A. – WWD

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