Do you think it’s important that Biden choose a Black running mate?
[laughs] The choice of VP has been an issue of intrigue. The beautiful thing about the options on the table is that all of them are more qualified than the current occupant of the White House. Whatever the choice is, I think we will have a VP who’s more qualified than the president, and that’s a good thing. And all of them are women, and that’s even better.
We’ve seen in the last few weeks some pretty blatant voter suppression tactics in the Georgia and Kentucky primary elections, targeted at Black communities. How is the NAACP planning to address this?
The number one response to voter suppression is to increase voter turnout. So we’re launching our campaign in targeted areas to increase voter turnout among particularly infrequent voters, because the more people we have lined up the better we can overcome some of the voter suppression methods. At the exact same time our legal department is fanning out across the country to partner with local attorneys to be our rapid response, to file lawsuits whenever possible and to prevent voter suppression. Quite frankly it has become a landmine to ensure democracy is afforded to everyone, and many of the most “patriotic” voices out there are the leaders of suppression of the vote and democracy. So we’re fighting back as much as we can, but the number one fight we have to take on as citizens, both Black and white, is to increase turnout and then have legal support at the polls to document real time and respond when tactics are put in place to suppress the vote.
Last week you had a big Supreme Court victory for DACA recipients in NAACP v. Trump. Would you call this the most significant SCOTUS victory for the NAACP since Brown v. Board of Education?
It’s a huge victory for us. The Brown decision was a huge victory. We’ve had multiple housing and fair employment cases that are big wins, but this was also a big win because of the impact on many individuals who simply believed in a contract that was provided by this nation– that if they do certain things, they can be ensured of a certain response from this government. Any time we as a nation renege on contracts with people, it undermines the confidence in our government.
With the Dred Scott [v. Sandford] decision in the 1800s, the case said Blacks have no rights that whites were bound to uphold. When we looked at the DACA rescindment by this administration, we felt that there was the same principle involved: there are certain rights we should uphold as a nation. So we decided to file the lawsuit, and we’re proud that we were successful, not just for the stereotypical faces you see that are DACA recipients, but all the DACA recipients. Because we have members of the NAACP who would’ve been impacted: individuals from the Caribbean, from the African continent, who are very productive, have been here since they were children, who were were brought here outside of their power. That is what has made this nation the nation that it is—we’ve always accepted immigrants from other countries. “Bring me your poor.” That’s the slogan.
I want to talk about police reform. Where do you stand on calls to defund or disband the police?
We absolutely support the call for changing the culture of how policing is done, particularly in African American communities. It is oppressive, it has created a military state in far too many communities. African Americans are preyed upon and denied certain rights and comforts. And so there needs to be an absolute change in the culture of policing, and much of that change can be found in the budgets of policing and the budgets of jurisdictions. When you deemphasize funding for mental health support, but increase funding for police, you’re sending a message of what your priorities are. When you don’t provide the necessary support for social workers and others to address individuals who live in communities or households of trauma, you can’t address behaviors before they become criminal in nature. The question of defunding is not a question of abolishing; it’s establishing priorities that place prevention and public health needs above military responses.
We seem to be in a watershed moment with regard to race relations in this country. How much hope are you allowing yourself to feel, that things might really change this time?
I see opportunities emerging, but I’m cautious to assume they’re going to be realized. We’re at an inflection point in this nation. When you look at the protesters across the country, you see America. When you hear corporate America finally standing up and acknowledging structural racism is a problem in this country, you see potential. Because there’s an election in November where people can make a clear choice as it relates to the values of this country, that’s the path forward. When you have those three opportunities—corporate acknowledgement, political will, and peaceful protest expressing clear values, with an election coming in a few months—that gives a clear path forward to address systemic racism in this country. Now I want to see it executed on, and I want to be a part of navigating how it’s done.
There is no other reaction other than: they’re doing WHAT and they’re doing it WHEN? The news causing the spit take is an announcement from the Fédération de la Haute Couture et de la Mode (FHCM), France’s governing fashion organization, that it’s planning to move ahead with Paris Fashion Week at the end of this September.
The coronavirus already wiped out the men’s and haute couture fashion weeks planned for the summer. The smart money would have been on the same happening to September’s big-ticket Paris Fashion Week, which requires many attendees to fly in from other countries, sit side-by-side, and then spread out around the city. That didn’t have to be a bad thing: the pause, it was said, could give designers and brands the opportunity to take a deep breath and reimagine a fashion system they saw as deeply broken. “When you try to explain how fashion works to people not in fashion, it’s impossible,” Dries Van Noten told The New York Times after he and a group of others in the industry wrote an open letter outlining a slate of desired changes. “Nobody can understand it.” Others brands, like Gucci, have already announced intentions to jump off the traditional calendar.
The FHCM wrote in its release that it will follow all “recommendations of public authorities,” but details around what the resulting shows will actually look like are very fuzzy. In addition to Gucci, other brands have already committed to changing the way they show, or leaving the calendar entirely. Earlier this week, Dior announced plans to physically show its cruise collection in July—without any crowd present. (The concept of a physical show exclusively shown online is being branded as “phygital,” because the fashion system can’t make tweaks without trying to stick it with a catchy word or phrase. Remember “see now, buy now”?) Dunhill will only be part of the week’s “digital calendar,” and plans to “present an evocative film,” according to Mark Weston, the brand’s creative director. Matthew Williams’s Alyx confirmed to GQ it will participate, while Dior, Burberry, Chanel, and Fendi have all voiced support for getting back to physical shows, according to Business of Fashion. “In Paris in September, we hope to be able at least to have some audience, if not a full room,” Pietro Beccari, Dior’s CEO, told BoF. (Ami, Bode, OAMC, and Loewe all either declined to say whether they would participate or did not respond to a request for comment.)
PFW is forging ahead but some brands are still taking this time to completely reimagine what a fashion show looks like. Villaseñor, for instance, is planning on releasing a film showcasing his new collection in July. The collection is much smaller than previous showings, for one, and Villaseñor focused on repurposing fabrics and excess leathers that were floating around his design studio. Comfort is also a major priority for the collection—a direct result of the designer, along with most everyone else, spending the last handful of months at home. More than any of that, Villaseñor said, he’s thinking broadly about how the system does (or doesn’t) work: “I just don’t think [the current system] makes sense. For the first time we’re actually going to have enough shelf life to sell something for the actual season it’s meant for.” Villaseñor isn’t sure whether or not these changes will stick post-coronavirus, but he’s certainly considering it.
Despite all the groaning emitting from fashion houses about the current system, there is a reason Paris Fashion Week is so steadfast in moving forward. People who work in the industry—like buyers, editors, and stylists—will tell you how important it is to see clothes in person and how they move on a model, to feel and touch a garment before putting it in your store or magazine. Even the fanciest, highest-production video can’t replicate that experience. “Even if the current situation has led to a great deal of innovation in online projects,” Pascal Morand, the executive president of the FHCM told BoF, “nothing can replace the physical event.”
It’s very difficult not to laugh while talking to David Dobrik. After just a few minutes of talking, the charm and sincerity that made the low-key everyman a YouTube sensation are clear. And, sincerely: He is not a gym rat. “I was supposed to work out with my trainer today, but you called so I cancelled on it,” he says. “So, thank God for that.”
He got his start on Vine, but Dobrik is best known for his YouTube vlogs, which have gone from pranks on his friends to and giving away cars and driving around L.A. with Kylie Jenner. Over the years he’s amassed almost 18 million subscribers on YouTube, spinning the aforementioned charm to a truly massive audience. However, since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dobrik stopped making vlogs. He’s decided to pause on his YouTube channel and take some time to experiment with other platforms and stay safe from the virus.
He talked to GQ on how he’s filling his days during the pandemic, dealing with the stress of the YouTube grind, and winding down with his favorite candle.
GQ: What’s your average day look like during the pandemic?
David Dobrik: My average day feels like it’s just day and night. During the day, I’m waiting for it to become night and then at night, I’m waiting for it to become morning. It’s getting so repetitive.
Usually I wake up around 10 or 11. I work with my roommate and we’ll get on some Zoom calls. And then usually they’ll go out and go on a run or they’ll go work in the backyard and I’ll make some sort of excuse where I have to shower, or I have to do some more important things [laughs]. But there have been a lot of days in a row where I’ve used some excuses to skip that part of the day.
Actually, I was supposed to work out with my trainer today, but you called so I cancelled on it. So, thank God for that.
Happy I could do that for you.
Next month, you know, I’ll work with the trainer next month. There’s gonna be lots of months in the future. I’m not the best at working out. I absolutely hate working out. I should say that: I hate lifting weights. I hate doing sit ups. I just don’t understand activities where there’s no clear goal or game involved. I love, love playing basketball and soccer. I love sports for a purpose and there’s a winner or a loser in that moment. There’s something about lifting weights that I find it’s so boring. I just end up getting so angry by the end of it.
That’s so funny to me, part of me has been dying during this whole thing because I can’t lift weights. I’m like: I’m gonna go to the gym and I have this super structured program that I’m following. It’s all about certain numbers I need to be hitting.
Why do you do it? Are you seeing serious body changes? Is it like, the second you see a little change in your body you’re addicted to it now? How does that work?
I enjoy the numbers aspect of it. I love watching like the strength gains you can make—being likelast month I couldn’t lift this but now I can.
What you’ve done is you’ve built a game into what you’re doing. So you go and you’re competing against yourself, which is cool. I could never do it [laughs].
This is a “me” thing. I don’t think anybody’s ever had this problem, but when I grip weights and I’m like “Okay, I’m benching something.” I get really in my head. I think about my hand around the weight and I think about how my veins are bending around the weight, and how the inside of my hand is looking and it grosses me out so much.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard somebody say that before.
I really love tennis, and tennis before quarantine happened. The courts were open and I could go out with a pro to play. It’s a three-in-one because you get a work out, you have fun, and you get a tan. My favorite part about coming back from tennis is looking tan. I don’t know why, I just love it, it feels like an added bonus.
With Prime Day—everyone’s favorite nightmare of a fake holiday—postponed due to, you know, everything, Amazon is launching its first-ever Big Style Sale (“Amazon Big Style Sale 2020!”). To quench America’s thirst for a little summertime deal-hunting, this weeklong event will feature massive discounts on tens of thousands of clothing items, accessories, and shoes from across its unwieldy style section. To help you make the most of this mildly overwhelming event, GQ’s staff has spent hours scrolling through endless pages of sweats, sneakers, jeans, dress shirts, and more to uncover all the biggest and best steals available. Consider this your Amazon Big Style Sale 2020 roadmap: all week long, we’ll be keeping it updated in real time with fresh deals and limited-time offers right at the top as they drop. Check back in early and often.
All products featured on GQ are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
For Pride 2020, GQ’sGive It Upseries invites influential artists and athletes to shine a spotlight on charities that are important to them. If you feel inspired—give!
Brittany Howard has never let the world dictate her fate. In her still-young career, her musical outpouring has been relentless: she’s formed three bands (Alabama Shakes, Thunderbitch, and Bermuda Triangle), released four albums (two with the Shakes, one with Thunderbitch, and a recent solo record, Jaime), and worked herself into a dizzy, dripping fever on countless stages. Each successive project has marked a step in a new direction, but none more so than, Jaime, her first nakedly autobiographical album.
Though Howard’s prior music had been personal to varying degrees, Jaime was the sort of work that only she could make, and that she could only make alone. Named after her sister who died of cancer as a teenager, it faced head-on the traumas and hurdles in Howard’s own life—namely, growing up poor, biracial, and closeted in Athens, Alabama. On the album’s most haunting track, “Goat Head,” she sang about an incident in which a stranger “slashed my dad’s tires and put a goat head in the back” of his truck. Elsewhere, the album is a warning (“History Repeats”), an activist invocation (“Now what stands in the way? / (All of us) / Now what you gon’ do ’bout it? / (Get up, get up)”), and a powerful declaration of same-sex love (“Georgia”). “For a while I was really into writing love songs because I’m a Libra and I love love,” Howard says. “But as I got older, I realized that there’s just so much more about my life that I should be singing about.”
Jaime was widelylaudedbycritics; the Recording Academy nominated Howard for eleven Grammys (of which she won four); and last fall Brittany Howard the Solo Act embarked on a big, auditorium-packing U.S. tour. After a few months on the road, Howard and her band were in a groove, and the way crowds were responding to her story was “extremely validating”; “it meant everything to me,” she says. For example: “This one woman in her 50s, biracial, with a white mother and black father, comes up to me and tells me, ‘Thank you for writing ‘Goat Head’ and talking about how different it is to have parents of two different colors. Because you’re either Black or white in this society. So thank you for describing how it’s different for us too.’”
But with the arrival of COVID, the tour came to an abrupt halt in March, and Howard hunkered down with her wife and Bermuda Triangle bandmate Jesse Lafser at their home in Nashville. Without access to a full band, she’s been working on making her solo songs truly solo. “I’ve been re-learning all the parts to my songs, performing them on a live looper, re-performing keyboard parts. Really, I’ve been remixing my songs so I might be able to perform them online. It’s been expanding my mind.”
Last night, giving his victory speech at an election night event, New York Democratic congressional primary winner Jamaal Bowman looked every bit the part of the progressive. He stood behind the podium in a sharp navy blue suit worn with a light blue button-up. There wasn’t a tie in sight and the top button on Bowman’s shirt was undone. This was a man ready to do some work, the outfit said. But the most vibrant sartorial symbol of the night came when Bowman stepped down from the podium to meet with his supporters and covered his face with a mask printed with the Wu-Tang Clan’s “W” emblem. Certainly one way to protect ya neck.
In the span of a few months, the mask has become the most divisive piece of clothing of our times. 70% of Democrats report regularly wearing a mask versus only 37% of Republicans, according to a Kaiser Family Foundation survey. Members of congress have begged President Trump to wear one. “IT’S NOT ALL ABOUT YOU, @realDonaldTrump,” Eric Swalwell, a California representative wrote on Twitter. “Get over yourself, at least pretend to be a leader, try to save some American lives, and wear the damn mask.” Only 48% of Republicans agree Donald Trump should follow Swalwell’s instructions, according to the KFF survey. This year, politicians relying on clothes to do the work for them have mostly found that strategy to be completely ineffectual. But smart politicians like Bowman or experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci are showing the many ways a mask can be deployed in their favor. Elsewhere, figures like Trump and Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro are feeling the heat for not using a face mask.
Wearing any mask is already a political statement: one that implies care for others. (It also immediately positions the wearer as a counterpoint to history’s greatest ultracrepidarian in Trump.) But more than that, Bowman used his mask to express more than he would have been able to without it. Wearing Wu-Tang Clan merch in the form of a T-shirt or hoodie would have been, let’s say, out of step with the traditional politician’s wardrobe. With a mask, Bowman is able to don a suit as well as express his love for legendary ‘90s hip-hop crews—in the process separating himself from stodgy incumbent opposition Eliot Engel, most often seen wearing a plain blue surgical mask or white KN95. .
In the right hands, or, err, on the right face, the mask can carry a potent political message. But that doesn’t mean it always has to be as obvious as Hillary Clinton’s “VOTE” mask. Yesterday, while testifying in front of Congress as part of the Coronavirus Task Force, Dr. Anthony Fauci changed from a plain black mask to one emblazoned with the Washington Nationals logo. The idea was to introduce a bit of levity during a round of hearings that touched on surging cases and Trump’s suggestion that the U.S. slow down testing. “I’m an avid Washington Nationals fan so I thought I would break up this a little bit by putting on my Washington Nationals face mask,” Fauci said.