Othello Grey and fashion as an element to realize oneself

Hi, tell us about you

My name is Othello Grey, I’m a photographer based in Toronto.

How did you get in touch with the fashion world? Have you always had a passion for fashion?

Fashion itself sort of fell into my lap, it became an outlet for various aspects of myself that I wanted to communicate. Throughout my childhood I’d always felt out of place- I was constantly seeking out ways to find comfort inward since I couldn’t find it outwards. I wasn’t raised with any sort of arts or creative background but I always had this obsessive nature to acquire more knowledge and add that to my being. Fashion became one of those things- I purposely don’t want to know *everything* about any specific subject because I want to give myself room to still be a student and naturally figure things out. So I haven’t always been passionate about it, I had a spurt where I was so in love with fashion and wanted to exhibit that through the way I dressed. In recent years my personal style has become more null and I’ve put that energy into my work.

What changes has todays fashion undergone compared to the past?

It’s interesting because with the introduction of the internet as a tool, everything is everywhere. The mystery has suffered. If you want to know about any designer, brand history, communities of style, etc you can search the internet. Now, mystery isn’t always necessary but I personally found joy in having to seek out the things I liked without it being so accessible- within reason.

What does the word “fashion” remind you of? Don’t think about it too much, respond instinctively

Being a photographer the word fashion is linked to my craft so I can’t think of one (photography) without the other (fashion) being sparked. So the word fashion itself naturally pushes my brain to lean on reference points of my favourite designers, inspiring moments in fashion, individuals who are pushing the narrative visually through photography- including dialogues in their work that push perceptions of POC, climate crisis and other issues surrounding the world. I think of endless possibilities, I think of a large voice that can change how people operate, I think of a vast space that has the potential to guide and disrupt where it needs too.

What is your creative approach when you think of the fashion world now? What do you want to convey?

Honestly I spent a long time without any clue what I wanted to convey. At this point I’m very intrigued with creating work that is emotive at the very least. I want to (without obviously saying it) highlight POC in my work as much as possible and place them in scenario’s that begin to normalize their presence there. We’re all conditioned to perceive groups of people in certain ways, not all of us have the awareness to realize that our ideas of beauty are skewed. I hope to contribute to altering those perceptions and create new reference points for people to lean on. My creative approach specifically always begins with an idea- one of my most recent editorials came to me in a dream, I saw the jackets stacked and layered on one another, the title and story around it floated into the frame of my mind. When I woke up I fleshed it all out and brought it to light.

In what ways do you think fashion is able to represent different historical periods? What is the relationship between fashion and man?

I’m actually always more curious about the individuals who don’t care about fashion. The every day person who has no interest, do they ever think about clothing as a way to review lineage? I try to maintain a balance as an outsider so that I can keep a pure perspective, I find that once you’re too enthralled by any singular idea you lose the ability to see it from an objective place. Fashion has done wonders for creative generations, story tellers, exposing new faces and ways of operating to people who may not have had a voice otherwise- but its also affected the planet in such a egregious way that I’m always skeptical of ‘loving’ fashion too much.

The best things are usually created when people follow their vision rather than pursue success or money. What do you think about it?

Thats the best mode of operation. The capitalist structure we’re born into and naturally adhere to has wreaked havoc on the ideals of innovators. Money gives you access, money gives you options, money gives you a level of freedom but it also can put you in a position where your motives are skewed. I hope one day we all can operate from a place that doesn’t require monetary gain.

Are there any problems in todays fashion? Do people wear uncomfortable things just because they are cool?

It’s subjective to me- I try to not be overly critical of anyone or anything. I definitely see how the desire to be included has made people wear items and brands that seem out of place but who knows what their past was like, who knows what point in their narrative has made them long for that inclusion. Theres definitely a line – things like appropriation and other scenarios that can be problematic is when I have issues with it. But generally the exploration of self through fashion can include moments where you push boundaries in ways that seem odd, kudos to anyone whose taking those strides in search of self.