Seeing a bare breast on the runway during Fashion Week isn’t unusual. In this time of Snapchat and #FreeTheNipple, designers are embracing sheer tops and wide-open shirts for reasons artistic, political, attention-seeking, or some combination of all three. But seeing model Maya Mones wearing a lace basketball jersey dress that exposed her left breast, which she fondled gleefully as she strutted to an acid-tribal beat down a runway made of AstroTurf, all while a cartoon bear in heels somersaulted across a giant video screen behind her? That is something entirely new. Thanks to Gypsy Sport, the unisex label helmed by designer Rio Uribe, it’s also something a hundred or so fashion editors and retailers witnessed firsthand during the brand’s hour-long show in New York last week.
“It’s not so much about attention as it is just showing what’s happening in the world I live in and the world that I see,” Uribe tells Complex, explaining his penchant for ignoring traditional fashion industry norms. For Uribe, that includes working with models who are trans, of color, and represent a wide spectrum of body types. “We get [criticism] all the time. If people are shocked by a guy in a dress, they probably haven’t been to New York City or haven’t seen what fashion is like here in the underground.”
Whatever the motivation, Gypsy Sport has accomplished more than simply overstimulating Fashion Week attendees. Since it was founded in 2012, the New York-based label has garnered praise from all corners of the fashion industry, most notably when Uribe took home the 2015 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award, one of the highest honors a young designer can receive. Jaden Smith, Rihanna, and A$AP Ferg are fans, as are Whoopi Goldberg, Justine Skye, and Cardi B. He’s been blessed with spreads in PAPER, Flaunt, and Wonderland magazines, boasts over 20,000 followers on Instagram, and received important, early co-signs from VFILES and Opening Ceremony.
Gypsy Sport has held the position of a brand on the cusp for a few seasons now. It would seem that Uribe has locked down everything he needs to advance to the next level of success: a healthy amount of press, an association with the buzzy genderless fashion movement, a couple of big awards, and some high-profile celebrity endorsements. When all of that is tallied up, the only thing Gypsy Sport is missing, though, may be the most important thing: some actual, regular customers.
If retailers don’t agree, Uribe has a plan for that, too. He reveals he’s currently looking at storefronts to open his own Gypsy Sport boutique. “I would love to open a store or a workshop in New York,” he says. “And I think that’s my solution: open up my own space and make it accessible to anyone who’s interested.” As for everybody else? They can still buy a hoodie