An Open Letter to Fashion

Hey everyone

My name is Julian Beltrán Cabrera and I’m the new marketing manager at NFS. I’m thrilled to take on the job for the next year. As an introduction I wrote an open letter to fashion to introduce my perspective and some thoughts I have on the industry. I hope you enjoy it.

Often described as a shallow and frivolous world, fashion is misunderstood by some and loved by many. In my experience, telling someone that you like fashion or really enjoy clothing produces one of two reactions: a sympathetic nod and enthusiastic sign of agreement or a sour face coupled with an air of disdain. Over the years I have become a master at ignoring the latter and embracing the former.

Photo taken at Milan Fashion Week 2019 by my friend Dana van den Brink.

In reality, fashion is an industry that lives up to its reputation in many ways, but that also manages to be home to some of the most forward thinking and non-judgemental people in society. The field thrives on the idea of the new, having its fundamental principle be rapid and everlasting novelty. In a way, fashion challenges and reinvents biases and traditions in new and law-defying ways. One of my personal favorite fashion moments happened at the Alexander McQueen SS 1999 fashion show titled "No. 13" where model Shalom Harlow walked the runway only to stop in between two machines that aggressively sprayed her with paint. This transformation in real time turned the soft white dress she wore into an abstract confection that elevated the fashion show into the world of performance art. This moment encompasses the inexhaustible creativity of the designers and creatives working in the field, one of the many aspects that fascinates me about fashion. This creativity is fueled by a rich and deeply individual view on the world and our place in it, that then goes on to be expressed through fabrics and textiles into pieces of clothing that embody this subjective experience of the world.

Interestingly, fashion is also inseparable from culture, making it have a very important and sometimes imperceptible place in society. Being a playground for innovation the industry is also full of paradoxes that protect the status quo but that also create a space to challenge it. Unfortunately, the beginning of the millennium was characterized by a fashion world that praised and promoted the skinny blonde white woman as the epitome of beauty. Today that view is challenged and other forms of gendered and non-gendered beauty standards are rising up in the ranks as well as finally having male fashion become an interesting subject for many creatives. Next to this, the last decade has seen race, weight, access and sustainability become hot-topics within the industry. While writing this article I took to the task of comparing a Calvin Klein FW 00 fashion show to the Savage X Fenty 2020 lingerie show. The difference is striking. The former showcases white woman after white woman and a largely white audience. The latter showcases women and non-binary people of all shapes, sizes and races walk a runway that looks like a work of art. Here, it is possible to see how far the industry has come in a matter of 20 years, making me look forward as to where it will go in the next 20 years. This gives me hope that fashion is becoming a place where social change can be understood as well as being a vehicle for it to be spread through society.

So, even if cold and distant at times, fashion is also very real expression of our time and culture, that is deeply connected to the problems of our world. As a fashion lover I wish to become part of that change and I hope that all of you reading this can see the value of this industry in our culture and join me and this year’s board in our mission to make NFS and by extension ours and your future work spaces and even lives more inclusive and aware of the injustices that riddle our world.