Amanda Laird Cherry brings the Black Lives Matter movement to the SA runway

Clothes are not just about fashion; they're a vehicle that can be used to question society, says the seasoned designer

02 May 2021 - 00:01
Amanda Laird Cherry's latest collection makes a strong statement about systemic racism through the use of colour.
Amanda Laird Cherry's latest collection makes a strong statement about systemic racism through the use of colour.
Image: Eunice Drive Photography for SA Fashion Week

For most of the 2020 lockdown, the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement dominated news headlines and social media feeds. It was local designer Amanda Laird Cherry's introspection about this and other race matters that led to the creation of her new monochromatic collection.

“I am [based] between SA and the US so I wanted to highlight the injustice of law enforcement,” says Cherry.

The collection, which debuted digitally at the recent SA Fashion Week, opened with a number of white garments in Cherry's signature voluminous style representing the imbalance of power that continues to exist thanks to systemic racism.

Clothes in dark colours then took over the runway reflecting the momentum of the BLM movement. The final look paid homage to the lives lost, presenting a challenge for much-needed reform.

“Clothes are not just about fashion. They tell us about ourselves and about our society. It has always been important to me in my career to use clothing as a vehicle for questioning and to portray things that are going on in society,” says Cherry.

A look from Amanda Laird Cherry's collection at SA Fashion Week.
A look from Amanda Laird Cherry's collection at SA Fashion Week.
Image: Eunice Drive Photography for SA Fashion Week
The garments in Amanda Laird Cherry's latest collection were fashioned from unsold pieces from previous collections.
The garments in Amanda Laird Cherry's latest collection were fashioned from unsold pieces from previous collections.
Image: Eunice Drive Photography for SA Fashion Week

Another topical issue reflected in Cherry's latest runway show is that of sustainable fashion — a concept she's very much committed to.

There are systems in place for the Amanda Laird Cherry (ALC) team to ensure that the stock is sold, or repurposed in other ways as was the case with this collection, which is fashioned from shirts, dresses, tunics and trousers leftover from previous seasons.

“I think more South African customers need to support local brands and give them the esteem they deserve because your carbon footprint is lower when you are not buying stuff that was made all over the world,” says Cherry. “It also assists with employment within SA's borders.”

Currently selling through The Space stores, Amanda Laird Cherry is looking to dominate in the e-commerce space and is planning to expand on the ALC women and menswear ranges.

To see more of the designer's work, visit amandalairdcherry.com

• SA Fashion Week took place digitally from April 29 to May 1 2021.