Jason Wu's tropical-inspired Spring Summer 2021 collection kicked off this year's New York Fashion Week, presented as a digital livestream on CFDA's digital channel, Runway360. In the wake of COVID-19, Wu leaned into words like "escapism" to drive his collection, inspired by his time in Tulum, Mexico. The choice to show his more casual line over his luxury label was inspired by cultural shifts in embracing casual wear in the wake of pandemic and to simulate an escape for the viewer. It featured an array of exotic prints and bold colors, spanning from knitwear to breezy suiting. In a departure from his usual tailoring, the Spring Summer 2021 collection is made up of boxy separates and effortless dresses. Wu's escape extended to the setting of the show as well, featuring a jungle oasis built onto the terrace of Spring Studios. It marks one of the few in-person shows for this year's New York Fashion Week, so Wu wanted to make it count.
Pushes for inclusivity in the industry also provided a source of inspiration, with Wu saying, "Spreading the word of love seems more important to me than ever, and being part of the change is crucial." The show featured Indya Moore, a model, LGBTQI+ activist, and leading actress of the Netfllix series Pose. For Wu, the ability to escape a changing reality that at times feels dire through fashion was important, and he plans to extend the feeling of love and ease that inspired the show beyond its presentation. The collection, according to Wu, aims to be "clothes not just for the moment" but rather "something that can be eternal." The trees that make up Wu's oasis, donated by Lowe's, will be sent to the A. Visconti nursery so that they too can thrive beyond the presentation. Other elements of decor will go to the dining room at Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC), a non-profit organization based in New York that provides 350 meals a day for the LGBTQI+ community.
As the first show of New York Fashion Week mid-Covid, Jason Wu's Spring Summer 2021 collection sets a precedent for what will undoubtedly be a non-traditional fashion week. This presentation shows the ways that fashion can adapt to changing times and offer escape from a landscape filled with uncertainty and provides hope that fashion will continue to evolve to be more intentional and inclusive in the future.