Saggy pants ban according to a fashion expert.

Saggy pants ban leads to a legal challenge and Chelsea Rousso was called to testify as a “fashion expert”

I testified in court about “saggy pants, slouching, or baggy pants”. The hearing was to challenge the ordinance in Riviera Beach, Florida (Palm Beach County) which makes it illegal to wear pants that show skin or underwear below the waist. In Riviera Beach more that a dozen young men have been arrested. The public defender, John Rivera asked the court to review the constitutionality of the ordinance. I was asked to testify in court as a “fashion expert” to explain trends, how fashion trends move through society often representing a social message  I presented evidence to support my ideas. After I was sworn in, my credentials as a fashion expert were examined. I explained my 22 years in NY as a fashion designer, design director and company owner. I also explained my current company, Remake Now and discussed my teaching career at the Art Institute of Ft. Lauderdale. I was asked about my book contract with Conde Nast and I confirmed that I am under contract to write a book about Fashion Forecasting. I explained about fashion forecasting and how fashion trends evolve and can be studied. When questioned about this particular trend, I made clear that it is over 15 years old and that it started as a rebellious statement but now has entered mainstream.

As evidence, I presented photos from a fashion forecasting service of young men wearing this style. I also showed pictures of celebrities showing their underwear. They included Marky Mark (famous for a Calvin Klein ad from more than a decade ago), Lindsay Lohan, Zac Efron from High School Musical, David Beckham the famous soccer star and Prince Harry. These examples showed each person wearing this style and also each of them in conservative or “appropriate” clothes. When cross examined by the city attorney, he asked me to define fashion and style.

The Palm Beach Post, Fox News and The New York Times sent photographers, videographers, and writers to cover the case. Prior to the hearing, I was met by a photographer outside the courthouse. Two young men volunteered to be photographed wearing their pants with their underwear being exposed.

The story was broadcast on Fox News in Palm Beach and I was shown testifying in court. The Palm Beach Post ran the story (which now is on my website) and I have had emails from other organizations. A writer for a newspaper in the UK asked for the copies of the photos that considered evidence in the case; especially the ones of Beckham and the Prince!

After the court appearance, I was asked to speak about the case on BBC’s World Service along with the Mayor of Riviera Beach. I was also interviewed on the Dom Giordano radio talk show where I discussed the controversy and spoke to listeners who called in to comment. Additional radio interviews are planned.

The court will continue hearing testimony in this case on April 22, 2009.

by Chelsea Rousso

exclusively for The blog  of The Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale Fashion Club

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