Former football player Colin Kaepernick has made headlines all year for his National Anthem protest and was recently named Citizen of the Year by GQ magazine. While Kaepernick decided to continue his silent protest by letting the photography do the talking (and having friends like director Ava DuVernay and rapper J. Cole speak on his behalf to the publication), the former quarterback also requested to only wear Black designers for GQ photo shoot.
I'm honored to be @gq Man of the Year! Thank you to @e_reid35 @nessnitty @ava @realcoleworld @msladyjustice1 @lsarsour @tamikadmallory @cfpetrella Ameer Loggins, and Mr. Harry Belafonte for being a part of this moment!
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Kaepernick’s stylist Rachel Johnson told Refinery29 in an interview, “He wanted to wear designers of color and or designers who were women. He wanted to give an opportunity for designers to be featured in the magazine who wouldn’t normally be, especially for a cover shoot of this magnitude.”
Harlem-based store Harlem Haberdashery, which is owned by husband and wife Guy and Shay Wood, created the powerful leather blazer that Kaepernick wore on the cover. Johnson also commissioned Kerby Jean-Raymond of menswear label Pyer Moss to create a custom “Even More Names” shirt based on his iconic albeit controversial “They Have Names” shirt from 2015.
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Johnson continued, “It was amazing how it all came together. It feels surreal. I’m proud of how it's being received. I’m thrilled we were able to feature designers who would have never gotten this look before.”
We’re just as thrilled for the rightful recognition that these designers received, and for the impact that Kaepernick continues to make.