Carmelo Anthony recently left the NBA bubble in Orlando, concluding a season that was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic and has continued well past its traditional June end date. Anthony, who was among the players who stopped the season again after police shot Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin, has been a social justice advocate in a variety of contexts throughout his career, in addition to a range of ventures that have included fashion and soccer.
On Monday, in a presentation during New York Fashion Week, Anthony connected a number of those pursuits by introducing the StayMe7o Propel Program, an initiative focused on showcasing Black creative expression. For a collection presented in a virtual show called A Black Future, he worked with seven designers or design groups to create T-shirts and sweatshirts featuring the graphic sensibilities of each.
Speaking by phone a few hours before the show, Anthony said that as he approached the current NBA season, he had questions that went beyond the logistics of the bubble. “I was trying to figure out what this year was gonna be,” Anthony said. “How do we propel young, creative designers, and Black designers?”
Included in the collection are designs from Ghetto Gastro, Shakira Jovanni, DIEM, the Brooklyn Circus, Barriers Worldwide, Tier, and Demestik. In the film showing the collection, disembodied clothing walks in place in a desert-like space, each piece displaying what Anthony described as ideas that resulted from conversations he had with the designers. He intends for this to be the beginning of a continuing series of collections by Black designers.
“It’s not just a one-off fashion show,” Anthony said. “This is just me looking at the landscape of where we are as a culture and seeing what’s next and seeing how I can make my way.”
New York Fashion Week has largely shifted to digital events and shows this year because of the pandemic, and Anthony didn’t seem to mind. “It makes it a little bit easier,” he said. “You know you have to go digital.” After A Black Future streamed, he moderated a video-chat conversation among the designers, toasting wine glasses before he asked them to expand on the work they’d just shown.
Anthony joined the Portland Trail Blazers in November after a yearlong hiatus from the NBA, following considerable speculation about how and where he would continue his career at 36. He will now be a free agent again—and the start date for next season hasn’t been settled yet—but his stint with the Blazers, capped by an electric Damian Lillard–led bubble run that pushed the team into the playoffs, was met with largely positive reviews.