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LONDON, United Kingdom — “This is science’s moment… so my responsibility was to study as much as I could so when my turn to contribute came I would be ready,” Rick Owens told BoF Editor-at-Large Tim Blanks in the latest episode of the BoF Podcast. “I’m concentrating on absorbing as much information — aesthetic information — that will serve me and nourish me in the future.”
The American designer, who has earned a cult following for his “‘grungy glamorous” aesthetic, has been spending the pandemic studying the work of English architect Edward William Godwin, as well as listening to operas like “Elektra” and “Salome” by German composer Richard Strauss.
Owens shared his thoughts on why the pandemic and political unrest has accelerated the conversation around responsibility in the fashion industry.
- The outbreak of Covid-19 and the killing of George Floyd, which has led to protests across the globe, has brought conversations about fashion’s contributions to systemic racism to the surface. “This period of resetting and enforced reflection has just recharged me,” Owens said. The designer revisited his past work and discussed how fashion is a powerful mode of communication. “When I think back on everything I’ve been doing, I feel like I was able to do beautiful things but I was also able to talk about values that I believe in.”
- Owens pointed out that the broader discussion around sustainability is forcing brands to reassess their businesses and consumers now more than ever are holding companies to account.
- Even as lockdown measures begin to ease and designers pivot to live stream their shows, Owens underscored that runways are not obsolete. “Adorning oneself and communicating through the way you look, it’s an ancient ritual and it’s an important part of communication… [Fashion shows will] always be there in one way or another.”