With this unusual, unprecedented New York Fashion Week season allowing designers to get creative about how they use their allotted time on the calendar, Chromat decided to forego debuting a new collection and instead delve deeper into a theme it first explored back in February: gender-inclusive sports.
Designer Becca McCharen-Tran has consistently used her brand and her platform to start conversations, amplify valuable voices and make space for folks who've historically been excluded (from fashion or elsewhere). So, this September, she revisited Chromat's Fall 2020 line, which imagines competitive athletics free of a gender binary, with a short film by Tourmaline, titled "Joy Run."
"Teams sports and athletics have an incredible capacity to bring people together and offer powerful opportunities to be creative and focused with our bodies. To feel fully alive," a press release from the brand reads. "We are in a moment where so much is happening on an international and local level around sports that reproduce a world we don't need or deserve. It is in that context, 'Joy Run' models the ways that sport — in its broadest form — can be a force for pleasure, for lifting each other up, for reveling in the deliciousness of our bodies. For joy!"
In February, Chromat staged a "training session" in a gym in New York City for its Fall 2020 presentation, pegged to the 2020 Olympics (before the Games were postponed due to Covid-19.) Now, it collaborated with Tourmaline on a film that addresses the power of sport and how it can be a truly inclusive space, starring the "dream team": ACLU lawyer Chase Strangio and athletes Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller, plus Maya Margarita, maya finoh, Jerron Herman and Chella Man modeling looks from the brand's past collections (which you can shop on its website).
"I was an organizer for Black queer and trans movements for over 15 years before I started making films," Tourmaline said in a statement. "One thing I always saw was that our community always finds a way to reach for joy in pleasure in the midst of challenges. Often we derive pleasure from seemingly simple things. The legendary Black trans elder Miss Major frequently talks about the joy of a cool drink of water.
"Coming together under the guise of everyday activities and reflecting back how powerful those can be is my mission as an artist," she continued. "I have noticed that being together in our joy doing seemingly small every day acts has huge impacts on the world, especially through the valence of fashion and self expression. So what we are making ultimately is a film that supports us plugging into something larger than ourselves and to be seen as valuable, important and powerful. What we are making will shape the world."
Following the premiere, Tourmaline, Strangio and Yearwood joined McCharen-Tran on Zoom for a panel discussion about the making of the film and what the future of sport can look like without a gender binary. You can watch their conversation below.
See Chromat's Fall 2020 lookbook in the gallery.