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Renowned fashion stylist, Law Roach shocked us all with his recent retirement announcement. Gasps were heard industry-wide with plenty of speculation. Roach, a prominent figure in the style business stepped down at what many are calling the height of his career. What was the coup de grace?
In his retirement announcement, he seemed frustrated and tired — angry even. It is evident that the pressures of the industry have taken a toll on him. I get it.
Law’s influence on fashion and style is undeniable. He has dressed some of Hollywood’s biggest stars
: Zendaya, Celine, Ariana, Meg and Kerry. Critics and fashion enthusiasts have widely praised him for being innovative and daring. My guy is bad ass-ery!
But alas he is leaving, likely to pursue greener pastures. God willing.
I spent years in the fashion industry as a stylist, though I consider myself a style architect and designer, who has had a significant impact on culture throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium. Ask how many times, I have been recognized for said influence–close to never. There is plenty I haven’t been acknowledged for like elevating hip hop style from sportswear to clean cut.
I revolutionized button-up shirts, blazers and suits on hip-hop artists, created Adidas jackets combined with blazers, dressed male and female artists in the “Canadian Tuxedo” also known as a full denim look.
–And the stacked on stacked on stacked bangles incorporated into Ms. Hill’s striking covers, I did that.
Though, I was responsible for many of Lauryn Hill’s most iconic looks, when John Galliano dedicated an entire Christian Dior collection to her that was influenced by her (and my) style, I was never acknowledged or even invited to one show. To date. Yes, the industry still owes me one. Let’s chat about a stylistic carbon footprint. But I digress.
So yes, I too eventually grew weary and packed up my lint roller.
Fashion and styling is a thankless business, homage is rare, nepotism real, the hours are long, and the scrutiny —oh, the scrutiny. It can all take a toll.
Roach’s announcement is a reminder that even those at the top of their game can struggle with the pressures of their profession. In industries like fashion where the demands are high and the competition is fierce, it’s important to prioritize ourselves — mind, body and soul above all else. Heavy on the soul.
Roach’s retirement is a call for the fashion industry to take a closer look at its practices. Too often, the business focuses solely on the bottom line and the famed while neglecting the well-being of the people who make it all possible. This needs to change.
For starters, access to mental health resources, flexible work hours and policies that prioritize work-life balance would go a long way because even the most successful and influential people are just that — people. We feel, we struggle, and when we aren’t taken care of, we eventually burn out.
We can even take it a step further.
Imagine a culture in fashion where collaboration and community are valued more than competition and individual success. Where credit is literally given where due and mental and physical well-being is encouraged.
Roach hanging up his hat is a definite loss for the industry, but it’s also an opportunity for reflection and change. Everyone, from the designers to the stylists to the models and basically, the entire industry as a whole could benefit from reform.
Could this be our wake-up call?