What does Law Roach’s retirement say about the state of the fashion industry?

Culture – 57 minutes ago

Robyn Mowatt

Robyn Mowatt is a staff writer at Okayplayer, where…

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Photo credit: Christian Vierig/Getty Images

Lurking behind the retirement of famed hairstylist Law Roach is an ominous reminder of the dire state of the fashion industry.

After the Oscars, celebrity stylist and creative director Law Roach announced his retirement. It came as a shock to many who have followed his work religiously. He brought the fashion industry to life with his innate ability to alter A-list stars and his relationships with red carpet fashion specifically. Zendaya, Megan Thee Stallion, Kerry Washington, Celine Dion, Anya-Taylor Joy, and others have worked with Roach. More recently, he was responsible for the stunning look worn by Megan Thee Stallion when she attended the vanity fair Oscar party.

Law Roach’s ad was riddled with statements like, “You win…I’m out,” which he wrote in the caption of the now-deleted Instagram post. Alongside a large stamped graphic that read “Retired,” he also wrote: “Politics, lies and false narratives finally got me.”

Law’s transformative fashion skills took him from Chicago’s South Side to Los Angeles. The self-proclaimed “image architect” worked tirelessly to make his dreams come true. He went from living alone at the age of 14 to being a super stylist. His beginnings in fashion included opening his now-defunct Chicago boutique, Deliciously Vintage. In 2009, Kanye West walked into the boutique and it was no longer a hidden gem.

A few years later, he packed up and moved to Los Angeles, where he met Zendaya, who would become his first major client. Roach is mostly known for coming up with pivotal style moments for stars, the biggest being Zendaya, one signature moment in particular for the actress was the custom blue. illuminate Tommy Hilfiger dress that she wore to the Met Gala in 2019. She was also responsible for the schiaparelli Haute couture dress that she wears on the cover of Fashion‘s November 2022 issue.

Immediately after Roach posted on Instagram, industry insiders expressed their thoughts publicly on Instagram. Edward Enninful, editor-in-chief of British Vogue, wrote on Instagram: “You will always have a home in British Fashion. Photographer Nico Kartel tweeted“Hopefully Law Roach’s Instagram post sparks a healthy dialogue about fashion and how disgusting that industry is.”

Watching the fashion community react to Law’s retirement led to a moment of urgent introspection to discover the story behind the story: what Hollywood’s most respected black hairstylist has to say when announcing his retirement about the state of the fashion industry. Fashion. This moment is even more urgent when Roach spoke with Lindsay Peoples, editor-in-chief of The cut about what led him to retire; he was tired of being tired.

From the lengthy conversation, one quote in particular stood out: “Honestly, I haven’t been happy in a long time.” cockroach said. This resonated strongly and so did his sharing: “I am so thankful that I have been able to move and move up in this industry the way that I have. But I can’t say I didn’t do it without suffering. And I think as black people in this country, it’s embedded in us to suffer, right? We feel that in order to succeed, we have to suffer.”

His comments are a testament to the journey he has been on as a black gay man who has given himself completely to an industry that is notoriously known for being tough. Giving yourself the space to finally rest after dedicating yourself to your clients can be difficult, but also liberating. “I feel a freedom that I don’t remember ever feeling,” he said.

Although Roach has been very successful, he has felt that he “has been in pain for years.” This speaks to how constantly investing in an industry run by capitalist leaders can often lead to feeling burned out, which is largely relatable for many African-Americans.

Due to the prestige and glamor often associated with roles in the fashion industry, many people dream of making it big in the space. What black and brown newbie enthusiasts are often not told is how they can work twice as hard to take advantage of the opportunities and roles that their white counterparts will get because of the connections or resources they don’t have. You are expected to work your way up from intern to assistant to what you dream of becoming with little to no resources. That’s where the community comes in.

One stance that is strong is that while the black fashion community consistently advocates for change, some of the industry’s leaders who are neither black nor brown are not. There was a period of time when black stylists, photographers and other creatives were embraced. Even now, that continues to happen. But these are isolated incidents from a larger picture. What does the header of your magazine, creative agency, either digital platform seems? How is your directory? Racism is the reason it’s not diverse.

Advocating to dismantle racism seems to refer to people from underrepresented backgrounds for roles and also advise them. Also, set up “accountability checks” with the decision makers at your company to ensure that people who don’t look like you get the opportunity to intern and also work at the executive level. Going a step further, it also involves looking for contractors outside of your network and advocating for their fair wage. Also, recognizing the meanness that is allowed to thrive in fashion and creating steps to root out that culture from your own company or where you work is another significant step in the right direction. It seems that after a brief hiatus almost three years ago, whites in positions of power went back to normal instead of taking the steps mentioned above.

The idea that the 2020 protests turned things around and opened the eyes of gatekeepers to understand how they are complicit in allowing racism to thrive is a fallacy. And Law’s retirement is a direct response to him being tired of working so hard and feeling like it’s not enough. Even with the respect and recognition of white institutions, he dealt with blatant attacks on his character and outright lies that caused him to lose clients. “I never feel protected,” she shared with The cut. Roach’s ad also concretes the notion that no matter what level you’re at as a black person in fashion, you’re still going to be hit with mistreatment by those in power.

Law plans to leave the celebrity look for the foreseeable future, as it was a space that pushed him into a major depression and also isolated him from having relationships. Behind this choice, it’s especially important to note that her departure indicates just how unsustainable the fashion industry is for blacks. Prestige and money did not protect Roach from instances that many within the fashion community consider normal, and that is exactly why he chose himself this time.

“I hope people start to see me more as me, as Law, as the person,” he told Lindsay Wagner. “I just, I just want to breathe. I want to fly; I want to be happy. I want to solve other things.

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