THE SLOW GROWTH OF INCLUSIVITY IN FASHION IS NOT WITHOUT DECADES OF RESISTANCE
The fashion industry is no stranger to commercializing and mainstreaming trends that originated in cultures other than their own. However, it is important to recognize the inspiration behind each of these trends and give credit where credit is due. From the beginning of the Motown sound to the rise in rap and hip-hop culture, Black culture has transcended many of the trends and fads that are normalized into our everyday wardrobes. Despite being surrounded by the art and innovation that the Black communities have created, we often fail to acknowledge it. It is also important to recognize that the slow growth of inclusivity in fashion is not without decades of resistance.
Black fashion icons, such as Pam Grier and Donna Summer, still influence the pop culture we idolize to this day. We can see this influence in media such as Beyoncé’s visual album Lemonade. The Queen Bey donned exquisite and beautifully designed fashion looks inspired by Black culture, much like the album itself. Appreciating the inspiration that has transformed both the high fashion and mass consumption sectors, is simply not enough. We must officially recognize the artist’s contributions to our society and culture as a whole.
Below are five fashion trends originated in and inspired by Black culture.
The Bucket Hat
First designed in the 1900s as a practical way to protect farmers and fisherman from the rain, the bucket hat rose to fashion prominence with the introduction of the hip-hop era. Rapper Big Bank Hank sported a bucket hat in a 1979 performance of “Rapper’s Delight,” instantly influencing the fashion community. Now artists like Jay-Z, Schoolboy Q, and Rihanna can be seen sporting the famous headwear.
Now a staple of streetwear fashion, sneakers have risen to be one of the biggest businesses globally. Sneaker culture is said to be born out of the mix between basketball and hip-hop communities in New York. Transforming from sports equipment to personal expression, sneakers became a prominent part of Black urban culture. Soon, major brands were appropriating custom and artistic sneakers into their high fashion lines.
Popular among many fast fashion brands, the lettuce hem is the ruffled hem work of fabrics made to look like a wave along the line of the garment. Originated by designer Stephen Burrows in the ‘70s, the lettuce hem was quickly adopted by designers and fashion companies everywhere. Burrows created the hem for Diana Vreeland, who requested to see a garment in “lettuce,” meaning a certain color of green, but ended up with a ruffle-edged garment that made fashion history.
The exact origin of logomania is still debated, but American fashion designer Daniel Day, or “Dapper Dan,” popularized the use of excessive logos, like those from Fendi, in his designs. Quickly embraced by the hip-hop golden age and rap stars, logomania was a staple of high fashion brands. In 2017 Daniel Day released a highly anticipated collaboration with Italian fashion house Gucci, combining Day’s Harlem street style with Italian craftsmanship.
Gold Hoop Earrings
Hoop earrings date back to ancient times, sported by Sumerians as early as 2500 B.C. and throughout history. In the 1960s, gold hoop earrings became an integral part of Black culture during the Black Power movement in America. Worn by icons such as Janet Jackson, gold hoops became a representation of unity and freedom. Now a common staple in everyone’s jewelry collections, gold hoops remain an important trend in the Black community.