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Usually, when a clothing line picks a social issue to highlight, it's something relatively easy to talk about. Nobody's going to be too offended by a label promoting organic cotton (like H&M's Conscious Collection) or donating proceeds to an animal shelter (like Splendid is doing with its new beach towels.) But for the launch of its summer 2012 collection, Brooklyn Industries has decided to focus on the loaded topic of racism in Brooklyn, using Spike Lee's 1991 movie Jungle Fever as a jumping-off point.
On its website, the company explains that Brooklyn Industries Creative Director Vahap Avsar "was quickly taken aback by the racism and prejudice" that he found when he immigrated to the U.S. The collection's focus on Jungle Fever started out as visual inspiration but then turned into something more:
Our senses were awakened by the captivating aesthetics of the film and were further challenged when we began to talk about the race issues surrounding the movie's characters. Despite Brooklyn's reputation of being an oasis for diversity and acceptance, we began to question just how accepting Brooklyn was.As publicity stunts go, this is obviously one of the stranger ones out there. Avsar and team sound sincere, and they've certainly got great timing. Over the past two weeks, the internet has been flooded with discussions of Brooklyn and diversity thanks to HBO's new show Girls. (Here's a good start, if you haven't read any of them.) But they're still using an incredibly heated issue to sell $78 dresses, and there's a reason—actually, there are about a million reasons—most clothing brands try to avoid that sort of thing.
Incensed? Confused? Interested in actually having the dialogue they're trying to spark, and/or purchasing some Spike Lee-inspired tank tops? The company is throwing a launch party at their Smith Street store on May 3rd that will (per the press release) "embody the eclectic nature of Brooklyn in the summer" with break dancers, a taco stand, and cocktails. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org to attend.
· About Jungle Fever [Brooklyn Industries]