A Fashion Lookbook: Volume I

The History of POC and Fashion

People of color have always had to learn how to adjust their fashion to Euro-centric norms while still embracing what inherently makes them, them. The Elizabethan-styled dress, with an accentuated buttock, highlights the affinity between fashion and appropriation. A "style” almost exclusive to people of color constantly became a social norm, but only under the guise of European consensus. It seemed unfair that black women, who generally had larger bottoms in comparison to white women and were constantly ridiculed because of it, were also a striving fashion statement these same white women wanted. Something that seemed vulgar and provocative on a woman of color was somehow elegant on a white woman?

It’s something that permeates the fashion industry even until today. People of color are often “characterized” in fashion ads and the sort: blackface imagery, reluctantly considering models of color due to a lack of white consumer comfortability, using white models to highlight stereotypical features of people of color like the Zoot Suit riots Vogue ad or considering some black models to be “too dark” to essentially fit the status quo. It’s the age old adage: everyone wants to be black until it’s time to be black.

I think because people of color have always been ousted and ridiculed for their choice in fashion that they’ve had no choice but to conform to Euro standards. Even in today’s most prolific of brands, models of color are usually much lighter than the average population they represent. Are you exotic if you’re dark-skinned with thicker hair or biracial with light-colored eyes and “good hair”? Because persons of color have never been embraced for what makes them unique by the major fashion outlets they’ve tailored their image and yet still to no avail because even today: boxed braids aren’t fashionable until someone like Katy Perry rocks them in a music video. Despite all of the adversity and appropriation that people of color face in the fashion industry, we have always found ways to be the pioneers of the next wave of trends. We have always found ways to shake up what is considered the norm, and we have always revolutionized what is considered stylish. 

Written piece by Taylor Ikner

Photographs by Eliza Moreno