SkidRow Fashion Week is the fledgling streetwear model aiming to assist folks transition out of homelessness in L.A., one T-shirt at a time.
The brainchild of Warner Music recording artist and cultural provocateur David Sabastian and skate trade vet Rich Marshall, SkidRow Fashion Week operates out of a nook print store on Main Street in downtown Los Angeles. On any given day, a handful of freelance staff who reside in close by Skid Row earn cash display printing socks, T-shirts and hoodies with motivational slogans, crosses, Black cherubs and different graphics that call to mind Yeezy, Fiorucci and Sister Corita Kent.
“The last thing the world needs is another song or T-shirt, so I figured if we started a fashion business, it had to be around impact,” stated Sabastian of the start-up, which has ambitions to observe within the mould of profitable L.A. social enterprise Homeboy Industries. “When I grew up in Torrance, there was a large homeless community under the 110 freeway near my house and I developed friendships there,” he added. “But too often, the homeless are forgotten. They have been saying they are cleaning up Skid Row for years, but the larger problem is rehabilitation and opportunity. That’s the ethos of this, you buy more clothes, you help more people because the clothes are manufactured by people in the community.”
The model has labored with downtown L.A. neighborhood council member Wendell Blassingame, generally known as “the Saint of Skid Row,” to recruit about 28 staff over time, folks like Sandra and Red, who had been available throughout a current go to, and whose names and faces Sabastian painted on a mural exterior the store.
“People do a lot of talking…these guys walk the walk,” stated longtime group activist Blassingame from his desk the place he sits each day at San Julian Park in Skid Row, a 50 block space in downtown L.A. that intersects with the Fashion District and the Arts District, and the place many tony companies and outlets have opened lately. “We got to change the meaning of Skid Row,” he added, acknowledging the load of utilizing the identify on a clothes model.
L.A. has an estimated homeless inhabitants of 60,000, with a historical past that started within the late nineteenth century when unemployed males settled within the space round a Southern Pacific Railroad passenger terminal that’s now generally known as Skid Row. During the pandemic, town noticed a surge in encampments on the Venice Boardwalk and elsewhere, and conflicting public opinion over what to do. The new California state finances has allotted a document $4.8 billion to spend on the trigger within the subsequent two years.
“When he said he wanted to do something on Skid Row, I thought of Patagonia, Toms shoes, Kind bars…The future of corporations is social impact,” stated Marshall, who met Sabastian on the MAGIC commerce present in Las Vegas. They launched the model in 2019 with $2000, beginning off promoting on the Melrose Trading Post flea market. In addition to offering non permanent employment, they usually distribute donations of shirts, socks, meals and different provides to Skid Row.
A rapper who lists his trend expertise working with Steve Aoki, Drake and FourTwoFour, Sabastian is understood for staging provocative stunts, together with a Gucci bonfire he organized in 2019 to protest the model’s controversial turtleneck sweater that resembled blackface. (After public outcry, Gucci apologized, eliminated it from cabinets and elevated its variety and inclusion efforts.) To promote SkidRow Fashion Week, he’s staging a guerrilla pop-up store in entrance of Dover Street Market within the Arts District on July 31, which the retailer is conscious of and isn’t stopping. The model can be obtainable on-line.
The subsequent step is discovering funding to scale, and formalizing the give-back side of the enterprise, which they intention to be 10 p.c.
“We’ve proven we can sell things around the world that are made and shipped by the Skid Row community,” stated Marshall, who has obtained orders from as distant as Croatia. “Once this explodes, we have big picture ideas of buying land and creating opportunities for transformational learning,” stated Sabastian. “I also want to do a fashion show.”
Not only a stunt however a full-circle second.