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Right Now I Feel Guilty Writing About Clothes

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My First, Fraught Fashion Week

As someone who’s been climbing up the fashion ladder for years, this Fashion Week — my very first as an actual editor — was a really big deal. I was no one’s intern or assistant this time around. I was finally being invited to shows personally instead of having to sneak in under a boss's name for whatever shows they didn’t care about.

But despite my excitement, this first post-election Fashion Week has become something of a moral headache for me. In the same way I’ve felt it trivial to write about trendy accessories or what bathing suit to pack on your next vacation lately, watching a privileged (and largely white) audience gawk over expensive designer clothes right now seemed gross and strange. How do we do this the right way?

I was worried that no one, from the designers to my fellow editors, would pay attention to or acknowledge what was going on in the world outside of our tiny fashion bubble. (Although Racked knows better than anyone that the industry doesn’t exist in a vacuum.)

Arguably worse, I was worried that brands would be so desperate to be part of the larger conversation that they would offer up flat, disingenuous, opportunistic demonstrations, à la your favorite feminist Karl Lagerfeld. A crippling tendency that comes along with the desire to stay relevant.

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Five days in, things are (thankfully) less severe than what I was bracing myself for. At the start of the week, the CFDA unveiled the Fashion Stands With Planned Parenthood campaign. In an effort to create an organic “social media movement,” pins were passed out to showgoers and designers alike, along with an informational handout on how to get involved and support the organization. Similarly, cult-favorite label Altuzarra auctioned off two seats to its runway show to raise money for the women’s health organization.

Some brands emblazoned their clothing with of-the-moment messages, though most only wanted to dip their toes into the conversation with neutral, politically adjacent slogans; Creatures of Comfort, for example, debuted a blue T-shirt with the phrase “We Are All Human Beings” front and center. Others took an even more subtle approach, using soundtracks to nod to the times. Milly played “Fight the Power” by Public Enemy and “Human” by Sevdaliza. The soundtrack over at Cushnie et Ochs had “The future is female” lyrics, while another at the Chromat show repeated “F*ck Donald Trump.”

It’s hard to be moved or comforted by these few small acts of solidarity and empathy when you consider the hundreds of opportunities designers have had (and not taken) throughout the week to shine light on the things that really matter right now.

I feel guilty for Instagramming models in latex skirts or for enjoying myself at an afterparty when I remember everything else going on. Like how Elizabeth Warren was silenced in the Senate while reading a letter written by Coretta Scott King, opposing the nomination of Jeff Sessions. Or that Jeff Sessions was actually confirmed. It’s been hard for me to stop feeling as though I’m not always paying attention, not always angry, that I’m doing something wrong.

I’ve had to remind myself on a daily basis that going to fashion shows (and yeah, writing about what bathing suit to wear on your next vacation) is my job. It doesn’t change policy or promote any sort of national healing, but I do love it. And I know I'm lucky to be able say that. My job is one of the only things that has offered me even just a few hours of escape from this uncertain reality we’ve found ourselves in, and I’ll take that escape wherever I can get it. Tanisha Pina, associate market editor

The Future of Athleisure Is Regular Clothes
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I’m not sure anyone expected the phrase “athleisure” to stick around for as long as it did. The first time I personally used the term in earnest (and not in air quotes) was in the winter of 2013, when a good portion of Racked’s staff began wearing yoga pants to work like it was no big deal. It wasn’t sloppy, it was athleisure! We were simply following the trend!

Now, years later, we’re still talking about this very particular category of clothing: what you wear to and from the gym, but also to get coffee on Saturday and run errands on Sunday. The leggings, sneakers, and tank tops that technically count as workout clothes but pass for weekend-appropriate casual wear. Nine times out of ten, if I’m wearing athleisure, I’m probably not going to the gym.

But eventually, athleisure became a synonym for “lazy.” Dozens of “how to wear gym leggings to work” trend stories were published, and soon, no one was wearing real pants anywhere. Athleisure was everywhere — even celebrities who normally dressed up to fly were wearing leggings at LAX.

But the pendulum seems to have swung back in the other direction. This month, fitness brands ADAY and Carbon 38 are launching new hyped-up collections. And if the products included in them are any indication, the future of athleisure looks a whole lot like... regular clothes.

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When a celebrity launches a line, whether it’s fashion or beauty, I’m automatically biased against it from the get-go. It’s probably not fair, but at least I know this about myself. So when Jessica Alba launched haircare via her Honest Beauty company, I was skeptical. But I loved it at launch and I’m happy to say that it’s stood the test of time (okay, it’s only been six months, but whatever. I still love it.)

The product that I find myself using every single day is the Honestly Polished Dry Condition and Shine Serum. The scent is the first thing that sucks you in. It’s a very sophisticated and rich-smelling fragrance that’s inspired by Jessica’s secret Mexican beach resort getaway. It supposedly has frankincense and myrrh in it!

Beyond the smell, the product is also great, yet hard to categorize. It’s a watery product that’s not as thick or oily as a typical hair serum or hair oil, and it comes in a small shaker bottle. It has several different types of oil in it and something the brand calls a “naturally derived silicone alternative.” A lot of hair serums, even the ones that call themselves oils, usually contain a lot of silicone, usually listed as dimethicone on labels. It’s what gives your hair that super slippery feeling after you apply it.

This one doesn’t have that. I apply it to my hair dry all over and it somehow helps to texturize my waves a bit, as well as smooth the ends. It only takes a few drops to adequately cover my short-bob-length hair. I’ve also used it when I need some smoothing in the front to make things look neater. The smell lingers throughout the day, too, in a good way. 

Between this and the Goop candle, maybe I need to have a better attitude about celebrity merch. —Cheryl Wischhover, senior beauty reporter

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