Prabal Gurung Asks, "Who Gets to Be American?"

By: Valeria Ramos

Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Photo: Victor Virgile/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

At this year’s New York Fashion Week, Nepalese-American fashion designer Prabal Gurung asks, “Who gets to be American?”

The inspiration for Gurung’s SS20 collection came after a meeting where Gurung, talking of redefining Americana style, was asked: “How can you define American, you don’t look American.”

Gurung fired back through fashion, making it clear that being American has nothing to do with race and everything to do with tenacity.

“It was very clear to me what he was implying,” Gurung told TIME. “I am American, I became an American citizen, I’ve been living here for 20 years, I pay my taxes. Not only that, but the majority of the clothes that I make, are made in New York and in America, I have spoken on social issues, contributed and been an active member of this country. So when is it going to be enough?”

Gurung has never been one to shy away from politics. He made headlines leading up to this very collection, announcing that he would not host his 10th-anniversary show at the Hudson Yards due to owner Stephen Ross’ support of President Trump.

“We’re living in a different time now; if you look at women’s rights, LGBTQ rights, immigrants’ rights…it has been challenged constantly. And so for me, for him [Ross] to openly raise funds and support, I think it’s absolutely wrong,” Gurung told TIME. “It was important for me to announce it because we as creative people have to take a stance, we have to start a conversation, we have that responsibility. Our success is a privilege, our platform is a privilege.”

Fashion’s ability to make statements and influence change is part of what makes it so powerful. Gurung’s decision to use his platform and creativity to take a stand makes him completely and truly American.