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The power of black fashion – OZY




When online retailer Shein started sell phone case earlier this year, which featured an artwork depicting the murder of Michael Browns without the artist’s permission, social media erupted in outrage. The drawing represents a black man lying on the ground, outlined in chalk. Designer Jean Jullien created the image in 2014 in response to Brown’s murder and the Ferguson protests. Julliens design was poached by fast fashion, the name given to the industry that employs exploitative practices to produce clothing and accessories quickly and inexpensively. And the creative community was not going to let that go.

The hottest trend this season is to give credit where credit is due. So join us as we explore the surprising history of your favorite contemporary trends, find out how little designers are holding fast fashion accountable, and highlight the inspiring movement not to whitewash sustainable fashion.

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Bucket hats

Bucket hats are everywhere these days, from Instagram to high fashion campaigns. They were called boonie hats by the military who wore them during the Vietnam War. The first rapper to popularize the hat was Big Bank Hank of the Sugarhill Gang in a 1979 performance of Rappers Delight on the TV show Soap factory in the very first hip hop clip. Short-brimmed bobs were then popularized by R&B, hip-hop and rap artists throughout the 1980s. Fast forward several decades, and hats are now worn by superstars like Rihanna and fashion enthusiasts galore. .

Color blocking

Now it’s a story about how the fashion got turned upside down, turned upside down. The Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, a Meridian-based museum, has just launched an exhibition dedicated to the Cross Colors label, which was catapulted to fame when actor Will Smith wore the company’s designs in the first season of The prince of Bel-Air. Two years ago, the brand was also in the spotlight atAfrican American Museum of California. The fashion brand was launched in 1989 by designers Carl Jones and TJ Walker. The California Museum exhibition, titled Cross colors: Black fashion in the 20th century, showed how the company popularized bold colors and graphic designs, while elevating social causes with shirts featuring slogans like Educate 2 Raise.

The beginning of sneakers

Until the 1980s, Converse were the shoe of choice for NBA players. But then superstar Michael Jordan entered the scene, and his lucrative deal with shoemaker Nike called Converses’ dominance into question. The accord and the shoe created by Jordan and Nike were the first of its kind. The NBA initially banned the Air Jordan 1 after Jordan first wore them in the 1985 preseason as they collided with his team’s shoes. But the shoes have become famous thanks to clever marketing. The iconic black, red and white athletic shoes gave birth to the sneakerhead culture we know today. Designers such as Virgil Abloh and fashion house Dior has teamed up with Nike to release tributes to the shoe last year.

Lettuce hem

If you’ve been shopping lately, or at least browsed your favorite brands’ online store, you’ve probably seen a lettuce hem or two. The wavy stitched hem is all the rage now, but it was actually invented in the early 70s by New York designer Stephen Burrows. Burrows accidentally invented the hem when an employee at her NYC studio stretched the edge of a swatch she was making, and he decided he liked the funky side. So the wavy edge became his signature. Now, you’ll find it everywhere, from Target to high-end fashion houses.

Tokyo skyline at night

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In the first half of this year, Chinese retailer Sheins’ mobile app was the most downloaded fashion app in America. Since its founding in 2008, it has become famous for its extremely low prices and summary work practices. The clothing giant is also known to have robbed small independent designers, especially color designers, by reproducing the art without permission. Then he creates fast fashion alternatives to the artists’ creations by using inferior materials as a replacement for high quality craftsmanship. Shein recently copied the design of a hand-crocheted sweater from the Nigerian brand’s website. Elexiay, with the fast-fashion version almost an exact replica. Designer Elyon Adède wrote on Twitter: It’s quite disheartening to see my hard work reduced to a machine copy.

2021 is the year of the brand

Matthew Harper, a graduate of Morehouse College and a resident of Atlanta, says there has been a movement [especially among Black women] when it comes to owning and empowering their businesses. Harper owns Esquire brand agency, who works with a variety of entrepreneurs in Big Fishing, helping them reach a wider audience using beautifully organized events complete with killer cocktails. Gatherings have become a staple of the Atlanta art and design scene. The self-described culture scholar tells OZY that among his clientele and in his community, more and more people are realizing their personal aspirations and are starting their own businesses. But the self-taught are particularly vulnerable to companies that poach their ideas or designs. By helping them brand their designs, Harper provides an essential service to creative beginners.

Luxury for everyone

There are many great guides that can help you find black designers, artisans, and business owners to buy from. Online lifestyle platform Alex Davis from Baltimore Galleries 88 features Black-owned businesses in the luxury brand world through a weekly online newsletter and social media campaigns. According to Davis, his business is redefining the concept of luxury. Luxury has been defined by European standards. Therefore, when people of all colors imagine their ambitious lives, European culture is centered, she tells OZY. Gallerie 88 aims to center black culture on its aspirations, not only in fashion, but also in art and design. The trend she’s most passionate about this fall is showcasing and supporting black designers.

Tokyo skyline at night

Go global

Decolonize sustainability

Women of color, especially black women are neglected in the world of sustainable fashion. White-owned brands and white designers often receive attention and praise buyers and critics for their contributions to sustainable fashion, while their racial minority counterparts are overlooked. But women like Emma Slade Edmondson are fighting this model. She runs a London-based eco-fashion consultancy called THIS to help consumers find ethical and sustainable brands to buy from. It also organizes an annual event, Live charity mode, in which participants recreate the best looks from London Fashion Week using second-hand clothes, which are then offered for sale in a pop-up store.

Who needs New York?

You don’t need to enroll in a prestigious design school to be a successful designer. Just ask the Tanzanian designer Ngowi Law. A lawyer by training, Ngowi told OZY that despite his lack of formal training, his designs have been showcased alongside pieces by Paul Smith, Burberry and Tom Ford at prestigious Fashion Week showcases around the world. Ngowi is part of a growing cohort of African designers who are abandoning the path of design school, while making an impact on the fashion world through a growing global interest in vibrant colors and manufactured textiles. expertly.

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Lea Thomas

Instagram eco-influencers often promote sustainable products that are very expensive, making them an advocate for the environment. Lea Thomas decidedly refreshing attitude towards sustainable fashion. I will never shame someone even if they buy a sustainable H&M collection, said Thomas The Zoe report. It may be the only thing available to them. And this is the first step they can take. She is a lawyer to make small, lasting changes when shopping for clothes. Take it from Thomas; There’s no need to fork out for an ultra-expensive, sustainably produced t-shirt when you can shop at a thrift store or trade with a friend while being just as or more eco-friendly.

Fatima Kanji

In 2014, Tanzania-born and raised entrepreneur Fatima Kanji noticed a disturbing trend when she started checking the labels on her clothes. Most of the African clothes she bought were actually mass-produced in Asian countries like Bangladesh or India, which she said took the soul out of the fabrics. So she decided to do something. The University of Texas graduate founded think africa in 2013, which ethically sources fabrics and other products from African artisans and sells them to buyers across the Americas. After settling in Puerto Rico, Kanji found a particularly robust market for clothing thanks to a cultural movement to reclaim the presence of African culture on the island.




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