We scroll, we swipe, we like, we follow, but do we take the time to really connect?
Austell Place and Heart for Art launched their series of panel discussions on Mental Health in Fashion last Thursday. The evening was hosted by supermodel Aweng Chuol and moderated by Vogue published photographer Sydney Claire and male model CJ Hart. Spoiled covered the event:
The evening was multifaceted; it consisted of an exhibition of Sydney Claire’s work, a panel discussion featuring influential members from the fashion industry, and a cocktail reception enjoyed on Austell Place’s terrace (avec instagrammable views of the sunset over the city). Beverages were provided by BTL SVC and SOUND, and gluten-free and vegan bites were provided by local favorite Sans Bakery.
The exhibition (located in the lobby and still on view) was a wonderful way to start a conversation discussing vulnerability, connection, and authenticity. For the show, Sydney Claire took intimate portraits of the panelists and other prominent individuals from the fashion industry. The sun-drenched faces captured in these photos are examples of honest emotion.
The panel discussion began at 6:30. It examined the relationship between the fashion industry and mental health and quickly became an in-depth conversation focused on the impact of social media. While these social platforms enable our panel members to create strides in their respective industries; the platforms are also responsible for triggering and exposing individuals to rampant toxicity. Yet, the attention exchange economy is new for both the consumer and creator to process.
The balance between sharing and privacy, or authentic connection and performance is a strange grey place, but panelists credited defining boundaries, with time and content. Sharing everyday life can be fun, though at times consuming; Bianca Valle shared her battle against stress acne, Alexis Henry shared her experiences of plus-size modeling and motherhood.
“We all are born beautiful and it's such a tragedy that we have been convinced otherwise.”
Navigating times of difficulty when social media is your job emphasizes the importance of cultivating an audience that supports your humanity - something Aurielle Sayeh stated. Sayeh delicately recounted the experience of losing her mother while working abroad and how Instagram provided a support network for her.
At the end of the day, being accepting of yourself and cultivating your own light is the only way to view social media as a safe space. Follow accounts that inspire and inspire positive feelings, and step away from content that is triggering and cause negative emotions. While comparing ourselves to others may come as natural as “drinking water,” as Alexis Henry pointed out, social media is simply a tool - its use and impact is something that we define on an individual level.
Whether we use the platform to document and share or simply as an avenue to network and generate business, it seems that the more digital we become, the stronger our societal attachment to transparency and vulnerability grow.
The easiest way to have a great feed is to live a great life with people and experiences. Of course, this conversation is never-ending, and the next panel discussing mental health in fashion will take place at Austell Place in early August. Be sure to follow @austellplace for details.
Love the views? Austell Place is a former industrial building that has been converted into a creative office building. The entire building is available for lease and would make an incredible headquarters opportunity. There is outdoor space on every floor and it is a 12-minute commute from Grand Central.