THE IMPORTANCE OF BLACK FASHION
Where systematic racism is rooted in almost every aspect of American culture, the fashion industry is no different. Styles and trends that are some of our most coveted and popular are due to the contributions and innovations of Black fashion. In a time of so much civil unrest between white and Black communities, it seems as if there is still a refusal and a denial of the Black Lives Matter movement and its overall message. Those who do not support the movement may not even realize their inherent hypocrisy when it comes to the achievements of the Black community, which has significantly impacted the fashion industry today. Many who flaunt their Black fashion trends are the same ones waving their All Lives Matter flag. However, if you love Black fashion, you love Black people.
Ask yourself if you have ever purchased or worn one of these styles; hoop earrings, oversized jeans, sneaker culture, or lettuce hem tops? How about brand logos, or acrylic nails? All of these trends were either created by Black fashion designers or adopted by the Black community’s fashion culture.
Hoops for one, have been an essential part of Black fashion, dating from as early as the 4th century, leading up the jazz era, as well as in the 60s and 70s during the Civil Rights Movement. Hoops served a symbol of power for women fighting not only for equality in gender, but race as well. And today, non-persons of color engage in hoop wearing every day, whether it be a nighttime accessory or a smaller pair for the workweek.
Sneakers have also served as a widespread fashion trend, no matter the color of the person. However, where did the emergence of that trend come from? Black people, of course. Sneakers, once known as athletic and basic-necessity shoes, were made into something stylish and collectible. Through the early days of hip hop, with artists like Run DMC and Grandmaster Flash, sneakers took on a new life. And now sneakers are some of the highest-priced items in the fashion world, with both POC and non-POC as consumers.
The issue with ignoring fashion contributions of the Black community is not just a problem in that specific industry. In fact, this ignorance is prominent for the many industries and systems where Black people are underrepresented and not credited for the work that has helped the white population prosper. The white population is faulted, not solely in their outward racism, but in the ideologies of the nation. If we are so keen to engage in Black fashion trends and flaunt products created by Black designers, why is it so hard for one to admit that these contributions, achievements, and lives, in fact do matter?