How Black Artists Have Taken Over the Fashion Events
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For the longest time, African-American fashion designs were ignored and rejected. If they were given the acknowledgment for their skills and creativity, it never went without them being labeled as Negro, colored, black, or Afro-Americans. However, that didn't stop the spirit of African Americans from making their efforts to gain recognition in the fashion scene.
The African-Americans have been trying to put their mark on fashion design and fashion trends. There has been a change in mindset through various diversity events, and the culture of Black Americans is now getting acceptance in the fashion industry. With globalization, increased connectivity with the internet, and the desire to get recognized and feel ownership, black artists have taken over the fashion industry. The Americans began to recognize their art, skill, creativity, and the contributions they made to The United States of America. The big change came from blending hip hop with the American conventional culture.
In light of the racial divide in the US today and the ongoing movements to recognize diversity in retail and fashion, this article honors and celebrates some of the trends influenced by Black artists and culture. It will also describe how black artists have taken over the fashion scene events. Stay tuned.
Trends Influenced by Black Culture and Black Artists.
- The Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s:
Harlem Renaissance refers to the time when people of the black community were migrating towards the north, searching for new opportunities where they could express themselves freely. This time is considered the 'Rebirth of African-American arts. Many style icons such as Cab Calloway and Josephine Baker became known. Their style made the fashion world go berserk, and they still influence today's fashion world. Examples include trends like Zoot suits with a big silhouette and wide lapels, wide hats, pinstripes, silk shirts, and brogues that made their way into menswear and drop-waist silhouettes, flapper dresses, feathers and string pearls, which are still revolutionizing the fashion world.
- Civil Rights Movement- 1960s and 1970s
During the Civil Rights Movement of the '60s and '70s, the movement's founders wore black leather jackets and military green, contrasting blue shirts, black pants, and black berets, which was the norm. Through the fashion statement of natural hair, turtleneck sweaters and gold chains made by Activist Angela Davis, the style got incorporated into the fashion in that period. Then came the 'Black is a beautiful' movement which distorted the idea of bleaching the skin and straightening the hair as they thought white features defined traditional beauty. They embraced the Black Panther Uniform featuring black leather jackets and slogan tees and established its dominance as an integral part of fashion.
- The Hip- Hop era of the 1980s and 1990s:
During this time, the hip-hop culture that demonstrated primary colors and featured oversized clothes started taking over and dominating the fashion world. A time came when sneaker culture, product alliance and hip hop made their way into fashion with the popularity of musicians like Run DMC.
By the end of the '80s, cross colors emerged as an influential trend. The brands promoted by popular entertainers like Will Smith and TLC were highlighted in political and social messages. The messages were all over tees, bomber jackets, and color-blocked sweaters.
Queen Latifah also popularized the Afro-Centric pattern during this era. In addition, accessories like bucket hats, gold chains and hoop earrings were also established.
Other influences included Michael Jordan's basketball jerseys, white sneakers, tracksuits and caps.
- Streetwear meets Hip-Hop and up with luxury in the 2000s:
In the 2000s, streetwear encountered luxury and evolved as a status symbol. Hip-hop increased, with Dapper Dan introducing a high fashion element. He also came up with looks for Mike Tyson and Salt-N-Peppa while establishing his first luxury fashion house.
The rise of Virgil Abloh, who was also a co-creator of Off-White, caused a stir after he became the first African-American artist to take the Director role at Louis Vuitton 2018- the French luxury fashion house.
In 2019, the pop star Rihanna launched the Fenty fashion house when she collaborated and partnered with LVMH to create the first luxury brand run by a black woman. It was well received by Generation Z's values were diversity and inclusivity. These great contributions made an impact on luxury streetwear fashion.
- Beyond a #hashtag
The younger generations are at the forefront of driving change, and brands trading in the current climate must therefore use their platform to authentically support the causes the consumer cares about.
After the death of George Floyd in 2020 ignited a conversation around racial injustices and led to worldwide protests. His death also led to an outpour of retailers sharing messages of solidarity, and there has been a push for brands to go beyond driving awareness of racial inclusivity.
Brands like Glossier, Levi's, For Love and Lemons and more have shared donations to organizations at the forefront of combating racial injustice. There has also been a call to create opportunity and support for Black-owned businesses. For example, Aurora James, who Designs footwear brand Brother Vellies, wrote a manifesto for big-name retailers like Net-a-Porter, Sephora, and Saks Fifth Avenue and asked them to commit to buying 15% of the products from Black-owned businesses. The call was followed by Rent the Runway company announcing it will allocate $1 million for black designers alongside a donation. These actions are fostering black people's involvement in the fashion scene.
Black artists have always been at the forefront of fashion, but their impact has often gone unrecognized. However, times are changing, and black designers and artists are finally being given the credit they deserve. Through powerful historical events, these icons have helped shape the fashion scene into what it is today. And non-black brands can no longer ignore the importance of black culture – it's too big a part of who we are as a society. Let's continue celebrating the work of black artists and designers and supporting them in creating beautiful pieces that reflect our diverse world.