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Tommy Cash Diesel SS24
Tommy CashPhoto by Swan Gallet/WWD via Getty Images

Tommy Cash’s homeless cosplay wasn’t clever, it was dumb and offensive

‘It’s a critique’: The musician has released a statement to Dazed attempting to explain his appearance at Diesel’s SS24 show at MFW, to which he arrived dressed as a homeless person

Over the last couple of seasons, Estonian rapper Tommy Cash has become better known for his front-row antics than any semblance of a music career. From napping in a duvet set at Y/Project, to going full-on mime at Rick Owens, what started as a joke quickly grew stale, as evidenced by videos of Cash and his frow-mates’ barely contained annoyance (this one of Ziwe and Emily Ratajowski’s side eye is a particular fave).

But on Wednesday [September 20], at Diesel’s SS24 offering in Milan, Cash took things one step too far, arriving to the show dressed as a homeless person. With a bag-filled shopping trolley in tow, Cash entered the show space in soiled clothing and a single shoe, rattling a change cup and holding a sign that read ‘It’s Expensive To Have Money’. As he arrived, the musician was led through a bunch of gawking showgoers trying to snap a pic and placed in front of photographers, where he posed with a dumbfounded expression slapped across his face. In another video from the event, the musician waves around a PDQ card machine with a long receipt hanging from it. Whether he was reaching for some sort of mislaid social commentary or not, Cash’s cosplay was offensive and shameful for everyone involved.

The question is, who allowed him to come to Diesel, one of the tentpole events of Milan Fashion Week, dressed like this? You would hope that someone along the way would float the fact that this wasn’t such a great idea, but – as is fashion’s endless need for viral PR moments – the stunt was allowed to go ahead. It’s a shame: Glenn Martens’ tenth collection for the brand was met with near-universal acclaim from fans and critics alike, but to have Cash on the guestlist was a stain on an otherwise stellar show.

Historically, Cash’s own relationship with the aesthetics of homelessness has been patchy. In a 2022 interview with Metal magazine, the interviewer asked Cash if his wearing a Vetements jacket adorned with dollar bills was a “critique of consumerist society”. “It’s definitely a critique,” the musician responds, “I think they’re soon going to run out of space to go, because they’ve gone so far already. Next will be just like homeless fashion, paper bags on their heads.” Also, on Cash’s merch website, the product description for a Kappa X Tommy Cash hoodie declares the piece is “blending grunge, post-punk and homeless aesthetics” [the copy remains live at the time of writing].

Following the Diesel show, Dazed reached out to representatives of Tommy Cash to clarify his appearance. This past weekend, Cash’s management responded with a lengthy statement attributed to the musician:

“My presence at the Diesel show... conveys a clear critique of the widespread cynicism surrounding trends like poverty chic, homeless core, or clochard style” - Tommy Cash’s statement

“My presence at the Diesel show during Milan Fashion Week is no exception to any others, as it conveys a clear critique of the widespread cynicism surrounding trends like poverty chic, homeless core, or clochard style, as it may be called. Homelessness remains a massive issue worldwide, and even in the wealthiest countries like the United States, a significant population struggles to afford basic necessities and decent clothing. The fashion industry has appropriated their worn, baggy attire, giving rise to the controversial ‘homeless chic’ style. What distinguishes homeless people’s clothing choices is rooted in practicality, availability, affordability, and comfort, while those who adopt the ‘homeless chic’ look do so for vanity and status, often investing in expensive items.”

Cash then goes on to namecheck brands including Gucci, Maison Margiela, Balenciaga and Galliano’s Dior as proponents of this look, before continuing:

“Globalisation blurs the line between the appearances of the rich and the poor, making it challenging to distinguish between them in developed countries. Some adopt homeless style to protest excessive consumption, mindless trend-following, or to express internal freedom from societal norms. For many, it's an environmentally friendly choice, leading fashion enthusiasts to explore second-hand stores. Despite the apparent simplicity of creating a homeless-style look, not everyone can afford it, making it a privilege primarily reserved for Hollywood celebrities. Some argue that the main social reason for embracing this trend is a desire for authenticity and connection with their fan base, humanising themselves in the process. However, it’s essential to remember that reducing the struggle of homeless individuals to a fashion statement for the wealthy minimises the adversity they face daily. This fashion trend is at best insensitive and, at worst, derisive and mocking. My critique serves as a reminder not to let fashion choices blind us to the plight of those less fortunate.”

Though Cash alleges his outfit was intended to critique the systems that minimise homeless people, his actions only led to mocking those people further. In the absence of any initial messaging to explain the look, the critique – if it does exist at all – falls flat. Ultimately, there are countless other ways to protest poverty than cosplaying as a homeless person at a luxury fashion event.

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