Janaya Future Khan is not unfamiliar with the conflict. Their groundbreaking, border-breaking work at the forefront of the Black Lives Matter movement as an international ambassador has helped bring black liberation to the masses, bringing with it moments of grief, loss and joy যেখানে wherever it can be found. They are deeply involved in the culture surrounding self-expression and personality, regardless of gender and sexuality chosen at birth. Entering their own light, Khan has been able to create space for those like them, who are unable to adjust or adjust their appearance in static.
The strange ability to change the tide of humanity and justice in the fashion world has persuaded Khan to become more involved with it and, hopefully, to use it as an agent of change. In the first of many possible endeavors, Khan has teamed up with London-based contemporary brand COS to star in his new Fall / Winter 2021 campaign and Runway Show, as the brand moves toward sustainability and timeless style trends. The collection adorns everyday clothing: slightly larger outerwear, touch fabrics, thinner but not suffocating shirting and of course COS signature knitwear, using responsibly sourced seals for the first time.
ELLE.com caught up with Khan before the COS fashion show during London Fashion Week, discussing with the retailer the work they do, the conflict of sustainability and usage, identity formation and how to take a beat and recharge.
How did you first connect to COS? How was the collaboration with the team?
It’s been nice so far. I think it’s a wonderful thing when you really enjoy the company, not just the clothes. The collaborative power has been remarkable. My team and I have a very orderly relationship with the brand and the idea is, what kind of commitment can we make to each other outside of a single campaign? One of these things is the promise of change, sustainability, intent and adaptability. COS is on board and excited about how those promises can be and I think it’s a rare and wonderful thing.
You’ve been vocal about sustainability in the past, and the issue of waste has remained a relevant topic in the fashion world. In what ways is COS compatible with your environmental values?
I was thinking about the conversations that took place when I attended the AOC Met Gala, and there was a whole lot of hustle and bustle about what was acceptable and what was not acceptable in terms of performance, shifts and changes. I think the argument that you can’t be anti-capitalist and can’t live in a capitalist system is really a flawed argument, because no one really can exist outside of the society we live in. What are you To be able to Try changing it. I think you can do it while looking for art and beauty and I see fashion as an extension of art. My whole relationship with myself and society changed when I realized how to express myself aesthetically, not just in voice. I can take control of my own autonomy which I put in a body that was not considered beautiful or ideal. And I had to hold on to its excitement with my desire to see changes in terms of brand output or their carbon footprint.
What I’m seeing with COS and many brands – even though we know there’s still a long way to go – is a name just a name, a brand a brand. The things that make it up are managing creativity, fashion, ethics and philosophy. It has been a wonderful thing to put a face to a name, actually meeting people who are deeply committed and very concerned about the cost. I think everything is possible. And I think that’s one of the hardest things, because the climate crisis is happening and will continue to happen. Our government is not just doing what is needed on that scale.
It’s truly a memorable thing for brands and people and organizations to come together to drive that change and take ownership and responsibility. I am a big believer that culture changes everything: it changes Congress, it changes politics. I am learning more and more that life imitates art, and as long as we keep pushing the bar on how responsibility looks, we will see that life will continue to imitate the art that has left the world. I see fashion as a huge part of it.
How is fashion enhancing your identity?
[As a child] I did not understand. My body made no sense. I was not considered a beautiful girl. I have somehow failed, and are often referred to as someone’s son, or son. It’s an interesting thing to grow up realizing that you’re failing at the sex you were destined for. I realized that my body was hiding something. This is a very non-binary, trance experience, [to] Roll your shoulders forward and push from your chest. I think the fabric is actually a ield at first; You find ways to mask yourself and be as invisible as possible – to disappear. People looked at my face and my chest and knew what I was. It’s a wonderful thing to be at a stage in my life where my body feels something I can celebrate – something that is mine.
When we think of change, there is always this big episode. This is what happens in movies and television: something happens, and suddenly your whole world changes. But life does not always work that way. Sometimes those big changes are small at first, and there is a series of adjustments. You have decided to wear that shirt in a special way, or you have decided to wear your hair, or you have decided to draw a nail. For curious people, a lot of searching for authentic self happens when you move away from the script and realize that the story you were born into doesn’t just make sense to you. And all of a sudden, it’s a powerful thing, but it can also be a no-brainer. It was art, it was fashion, it was music, and it was the culmination of a world that made me feel much less lonely. When I speak now, I try to speak of the human condition, the loneliness that we all feel, which is at the heart of it, the desire to understand.
Fashion and what I want to put on my body is one thing that I am reaching out to people. We all feel a little lonely at times. What we need to be is who we are, and if I can do it for myself, I hope it is enough to inspire someone else to do the same.
In your Sunday speech, you seamlessly put together some issues so that they all feel connected. Where do you see fashion connected to culture on a larger scale?
For about five years, I wore only black. It was so much easier when everything matched up with everything else – I could put things in a backpack and get on a plane or a bus, because there was always a crisis. My work was where it was and it helped support. If the National Guard had been called, [if] If there was a curfew [there was] The tragedy of killing someone, I found myself in those places, and even then, what I wore seemed powerful. That’s all black [look] I felt like I was in a kind of perpetual mourning, but there was also power in the idea of uniforms. It was its utility, the literal ability to throw it all away. I’ve focused a lot on things like asymmetrical cuts, textures, and layering. It was important to me even before it was at the forefront of my mind. I knew how to wear leather if things were going to be particularly exciting. At certain times, you should not wear the net at all and for various reasons it was important to keep the face ing even before this epidemic. How much I relate to fashion and my expression is connected to activism and utility.
Now, in this moment where everyone suffocates and gets stuck and frustrated due to the epidemic, I find myself drawing in color for the first time in many, many years. Not just a blue or green, a vibrant green, a formal orange, a demanding silver. I changed my clothes to meet him at that place. I was in this difficult moment, and fashion became this creative embrace, this possibility. Now, whenever I put something very colorful, I am reminded of the possibility of wearing it. I hope it will literally, apparently brighten someone’s day.
I would like to collaborate with industry makers and taste makers to move the program towards more ethical production. Meeting behind-the-scenes staff and storytellers has been an excellent experience who are committed to changing culture and changing costs, while clearing the tension between accessibility and use. We see many brands recycling and upcycling materials – even recent investments in digitized fashion. This is truly a great moment to survive.
“Don’t be afraid to disappear,” he said in Michael Coyle’s Amy Acceptance speech. How do you take the time to reboot and recharge yourself to stay in the public eye and do the important work that you are doing?
This is a wonderful question. There is endless pressure to produce, and if you don’t produce, you lose relevance, and if you lose relevance, do you exist? Social media really fuels that belief: romance in other people’s lives. My relationship with social media is first and foremost: can I be useful right now? I like to see if other people are talking about something first. I try to get inside when I think something is missing. I also go to rest. Incubation is very important for creativity. It is important to say something instead of the instant coffee politics of online word exchange.
In its interest, isn’t it?
That’s right. I’m someone who’s actually very good at moving, but I’m human. Like anything else, social media is curated, and it’s not in our hands. It’s a story that is being written by other people, by algorithms. I am most interested in developing their own voice and their own thinking and that kind of critical engagement. What do you really think about something? How much of what you believe or know is yours? I believe that social media actually does an important job, especially in the vicinity of access. But there is something to be said for finding the right balance and relating to it that is not conveyed by this concern for production and relevance. What you have to say is enough in itself. The world can really use us to speak and think hard about what we want to say.
This interview has been lightly edited and concentrated for clarity.
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