AWEARNESS: Do you think the current generation of young New York tastemakers is more or less concerned about social issues than other generations?
David: I think they are terribly concerned. And if they weren’t before the campaigns for the Presidential nominations, they are now. In the past, it was common for the hipoisie to believe that it was futile to expect anything to change. Punk rock anarchy was all about this. Barack Obama has brought hope to the economically and emotionally disenfranchised. Hillary Clinton has supporters as well, especially among women.
AWEARNESS: Within New York fashion and cultural circles, who are some of the people that you particularly admire for their dedication to important social causes and eco-friendly clothing?
David: Kenneth Cole, of course, has been a leader in this department. Along with people like Beth Ann Hardison who speaks out about racism in the modeling industry; Moby; Susan Bartsch and her husband David Barton; Todd Oldham has always been very outspoken; Lady Bunny writes about politics on an amazing blog. There are many more.
AWEARNESS: On your Eye Spy blog for PAPER magazine, you recently characterized yourself as an “amateur political observer.” Of the candidates still remaining in the 2008 Presidential mix, which one do you think is uniquely able to change the political landscape and deal with issues like homelessness, poverty and social injustice?
David: Here I would have to go with Barack Obama. His experience as a community organizer makes him especially knowledgeable of life lived on the margins of society. As an embodiment of a man from two different worlds he is psychically suited to undertake the gargantuan task of rebuilding the fabric of our society.
AWEARNESS: Twenty five years ago, Kenneth Cole created a stir in the fashion world with advertisements that challenged viewers to think about difficult issues such as AIDS and homelessness. At about the same time, PAPER Magazine launched in New York. What was the reaction at PAPER Magazine when these ads were first unveiled?
David: I remember thinking — “what a great use of the advertising dollar!” Not only was he getting a message out, he was also establishing the identity and values of the brand. We immediately wanted to get the ad in Paper magazine.
AWEARNESS: Who are some of the up-and-coming names that we should be keeping an eye out for in 2008?
David: There’s always great emerging talent out there. That’s what we’re constantly doing at Paper and papermag.com, trying to identify the man, woman, it girl, rapper, rocker or drag queen of-the-moment before the moment. But seriously… each year in April we do our Beautiful People issue which is in essence a portfolio of up-and-coming talents we expect to be breaking out this year.