How the Fat Jew Became the New Tom Ford
Attendees hoping for controversy at the Fat Jew’s NYFW fashion show were in for a surprise—this was a proudly sentimental tribute to dads everywhere.
As “Hotel California” played and a man dressed in khaki pants with a “Grillfather” (a play on The Godfather) apron walked down an Astroturf runway, I was surprised by how overwhelmed I was by one singular desire: I wanted my dad.
Watching the Fat Jew’s Dad Fashion show at the Standard High Line Hotel on Wednesday, I kept wishing my own father was sitting with me—even though he would have been one of maybe three people over the age of 35 in a crowd that looked like HBO had cast the audience based on the sole descriptors of “Bushwick” and “avid Vice readers.”
Sac-like black dresses and plastic, colorful, presumably non-prescriptive glasses abounded.
I asked a group of youngish men in random baseball caps, including a Marlboro one, if they were wearing that to go with the dad ambience. No, they told me. They just liked them.
I can’t say anyone else present had the emotional response I did to a show that was meant to be not so much a fashion statement as a joke—and an original one at that.
From the chatter I heard around me, people were eager to see if the Fat Jew (whose real name is Josh Ostrosky) could be funny in an innovative, non-plagiarized way.
When it was revealed in August that the Instagram celebrity comedian had nabbed a six-figure deal with entertainment agency CAA, a slew of comedians and writers slammed the Fat Jew for stealing theirs and their colleagues’ work, providing a heaping pile of damning evidence.
In response, the Fat Jew provided a half-assed, self-serving apology when asked if he stole jokes. “I mean, no, not intentionally,” he told New York. “If something was heard and written down, then that's probably what happened. I didn't realize that if you don't have a source for something, then you couldn’t necessarily post it.”
But stealing jokes hasn’t been the Fat Jew’s only venture. He launched White Girl Rosé this summer with fellow internet celeb David Oliver Cohen—better known as Babe Walker online—of White Girl Problems. He signed a modeling contract with One Management, which means he and Bar Rafaeli have the same rep.
Was designing his own line of clothes to be the Fat Jew’s next chapter?
This reporter doubts it. The show at NYFW was more in the vein of the Fat Jew’s extended IRL stunts, like when he used CitiBikes to lead a Soul Cyle-inspired spin class for homeless people.
The Fat Jew calls himself the world’s first “plus-sized male model,” and the collection opened with a large man in his forties or fifties, wearing light blue-checkered pajamas and a satin sleep mask.
‘The PJ Dad’ walked the runway with the pissed-off look of a dad who has just been awoken by his jackass teenager stumbling drunk into the house. It was funny, but there was also something peculiarly sincere about hitting that dad-ish nail on the head.
He was followed by ‘Snow Shovel Dad,’ a beleaguered-looking man around the same age as ‘PJ Dad.’
‘Snow Shovel Dad’ was much slighter and shorter, but they shared the normality of their run-of-the mill bodies. This one wore a gray wool sweater with navy blue ski pants overall and red snow shovel.
When I realized my dad owned that same wool sweater and the song turned to Bruce Springsteen’s “Born to Run” (a favorite of my dad’s), it took all of my professional decorum not to burst out of the showroom just to call him.
There were 19 other dad-looks on display, including ‘Hippy Dad,’ ‘Barbecue Dad,’ and ‘Deadbeat Dad.’
While invitations for the show featured a picture of Kanye West with baby North, everything about the brief show was meant to evoke the ordinary, dorky, noble suburban dad. Men of all ages and varying dad-bods walked the runway.
The clothes covered a wide range of dad-related athletic, professional, and leisure wear, though the Fat Jew didn’t design them—or at least not all of them.
While a press representative for the show said in an email that “each look was put together using existing brands,” at least one model said the ensemble was actually from his personal wardrobe.
I happened to bump into one of the models, presumably the White Collar Dad, after the show, a man I’d peg in his early fifties who wore a dark suit and carried a briefcase.
Coupled with his slumped over gait on the runway, this man’s look was classic, soul-crushed Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. When I complimented him for his turn on the catwalk, he thanked me and mentioned the suit was actually his.
However, this model was not a corporate machine cog but an actor. I am not sure what the other models’ professions were, but the Fat Jew told Yahoo Style that he had solicited many form Craigslist and wanted to highlight “regular dads.”
The models weren’t the only parts of the fashion show utilized to foster the genuine dad atmosphere. Filled with Van Morrison, Bon Jovi, and the Eagles, the soundtrack could have been played at an Elks Club formal.
Before and after the runway show, guests could grab cans of PBR from the plastic red-and-white coolers dads so often bring to backyard barbecues or to the beach.
Blue koozies with “#1 Dad” and “Fatherhood: A Lifestyle” were given out—a nod to a favorite accessory of dads and alcoholics alike.
To really underscore the mood, a screen at the head of the runway showed a loop of videos of dad doing typical dad things—barbecuing chicken, mowing the lawn, teaching kids how to fish—playing on a loop. Mixed into the funny snippets were clips of dads playing or resting with their kids in candid and genuinely touching moments of fatherhood.
While the audience enthusiastically laughed as one dad after the next walked the runway in sweatpants or Rick Santorum-esque sweater vests, I found the whole spectacle remarkably sincere.
I highly doubt that was the intention of the Fat Jew. I imagine he wanted the show to make me laugh, and make me think he was a real comedian or a performance artist who didn’t have to rely on others’ work to make a name.
But the Fat Jew’s fashion show really just made me want to share a PBR with my dad.