In the most reductive sense, Area might seem like a fashion brand about crystals. Yes, its most famous garments glisten with high wattage shine: See the suit worn by Michelle Obama during her book tour or Indya Moore’s crystal mesh dress at Pride last year for the proof. But just like Area’s famous clientele, the brand’s sparkle is in service of a deeper message. “In the end, the goal is to rethink the future of clothing and of people. How can we get there through design?” Piotrek Panszczyk told Vogue last year. “How can we rethink the entire process?”
Today, the team behind Area—Panszczyk, co-creative director Beckett Fogg, and digital manager Kareem Burke—are unveiling a new social media initiative that turns Area’s Instagram into a conversation with the brand’s longtime muses. First up is a series of posts spotlighting Jazzelle—alias @uglyworldwide—in which she discusses her involvement in the Black Lives Matter movement. “I have been spending this time in quarantine nurturing my creativity, and focusing on the health of the body and mind. Being a queer mixed race person these movements are something I involve myself in daily, since as long as I can remember. I stand up for injustice whenever it’s put in front of me, not just for myself but for others who aren’t always willing or able or comfortable to do so,” she writes. “Open your heart and use your voice. We must ALL stand together in order to make real change.” Jazzelle’s post will be followed by content in the coming weeks from Julia Fox, Kitty Cash, Courtney Top, Nadia Lee Cohen, Tyrinna Lee, and virtual influencer Lil’Miquela.Kitty Cash wearing AreaPhoto: Courtesy of AreaNadia Lee Cohen in AreaPhoto: Courtesy of Area
“We always relate to people with a strong visual identity, but also an underlying message,” says Panszczyk of the cast of muses. Burke adds that each woman is inspiring because “they use their platform not only to be a fabulous person, but also to have meaning behind what they do.”
Those paying attention to Area’s rise will know that the upstart label has been incorporating messages of inclusion and education into its collections since the start, from the multicultural music played at its shows to its support of a program that connects New Design High School students with students and artists around the world. The brand’s most recent show was held at The Africa Center as a way to spotlight the museum and partner with it on a virtual installation. “It was always a part of our brand, but maybe it can be more obvious,” says Panszczyk. “We are really trying to relate to people who can send a powerful message through creativity.”
“What was really important with this project was for Area to be seen as a vessel for these creatives,” Burke continues. Interestingly, the entire project was photographed during self-isolation—which might seem incongruous with Area’s going-out vibe, but instead proved to be a way to show the value of the brand’s glitzy clothing in a new light. “They all managed to build this aspirational fantasy moment within their confinement,” says Panszczyk. “It’s our mission to give people role models and shape an image for them that they can really feel empowered by. I feel like that is the most important thing we can do. Maybe you’re not even buying the collection but you are a part of our universe.”
Panszczyk continues: “We thought it was important to have [our muses’] opinions and perspectives, and to show how they can light a spark in other people.” He and his collaborators believe that beyond buying and selling, fashion can be a force for new perspectives and positive change.