A Fashion Lookbook: Volume II

Click here for Volume I

Contemporary Fashion

Fashion is interestingly poking at the same blackface themes it garnered from years before. Instead of featuring African models with the exact textured hair, Vogue would rather feature a “Nordic” woman donning a wig to embrace the same symbolism. It's annoying. It’s a slap in the face, and just utterly disrespectful. But it sells. It's a “toned-down” image of the very fierceness it mimics. An Afro is offensive. It's rebellious. It's against the Euro-centric norm that straightened hair is the “standard professional”.

 I'll never forget working at the commercial “trendy clothing store” and tribal wear becoming the next hit. I mean, tribal? It featured patterns. Zebra, cheetah. Very Saharan, obviously, nothing common of the States. It seemed so blatantly whitewashed of what we believed Africa to be that it seemed primitive. I mean both black and white customers were buying it so what was the big issue though? It was because both black and white customers were buying it. 

Contemporary black fashion isn't much different than the history it succeeds. It constantly revolves around “toning down” its dominant Afrocentric features. Contemporary black fashion has gone from “tall tees” and baggy pants, which were designed as a rebellion against the norm, to tailored button-ups and cinched joggers because oversized clothes are intimidating. 

But although black culture implies certain Euro ideologies in their dress it still comes off authentically… black. Black American fashion is all about the stunt. How fly can you look in comparison to your peers. Guys are willing to swap their Jordan collection for Cole Haan loafers because it's “in fashion”. Suits are a “business look,” so Steve Harvey, and in the spirit of Easter, K&G, accentuated what draws black consumerism. The gator trim. The matching pastel vest. The long-hemmed jacket. The stunt. People of color have continually used fashion as a form of expression. It is our way of telling the world our story. 

Words by Taylor Ikner

Photographs by Eliza Moreno