IMG has canceled the runway show of designer Gulnara Karimova, daughter of the feared Uzbeki dictator Islam Karimov. In addition to constantly revoking the basic rights and freedoms of Uzbekistan citizens since 1989, Mr. Karimov has also cleared a path for Ms. Karimova to flourish in the fashion world by removing her rivals and competitors, according to a U.S. diplomat quoted in Wikileaks. As late as this past Friday, IMG organizers made it clear that, though they recognized the concerns of the Human Rights Watch, they had no plans to cancel the Guli show.
“We’re horrified by the human-rights abuses in Uzbekistan, and hope that the attention Human Rights Watch generates is able to effect change in the country,” said an IMG spokesman. “We also hope to work hand-in-hand with Human Rights Watch during Fashion Week and beyond to challenge those in power in Uzbekistan to take action immediately.”
The fashion world has put forth efforts to combat the Uzbeki practice of using child labor to harvest cotton – Gap, Macy’s, H&M, and Wal-Mart have all refused to buy Uzbeki cotton. Protesters at this year’s NYFW were planning to stage their own fashion show outside of the Guli Lincoln Center show, in which models would wear t-shirts “illustrating the link between the fashion industry and forced child labor in Uzbekistan’s cotton industry.”
Bowing to these and other pressures, IMG announced today that the Guli show would be canceled. Nixed are the “thirty looks in natural silk, organic cotton, leather embellishments, rare Uzbek fabrics such as shoi, and intricate ikat prints — all updated with contemporary shapes and cuts,” according to a Guli promotional statement from September 8th. This past year has definitely seen the rising trend of brands converting to “fashion with a conscience,” and it seems that NYFW has made efforts to join those trying to combine style and morality. Let’s just hope that no NYFW organizers are boiled alive, as is the alleged fate of several of Islam Karimov’s enemies.