Through a panel discussion on Black style and its influence in the fashion industry,in the Macy’s at Hidalgo, three prominent women in the fashion world gave us their view points on where black style came from and where it’s going. As Joy Sewing–Houston Chronicle, Fashion/Beauty Editor-opened up with the first question, “What does black style mean to you?” several provoking thoughts stood out to me.
Constance White–Style Expert, author of Stylenoir & The Queens & Kings of Style- answered by sharing a few names of past and present people, “As far as prominent people, Diana Ross, Miles Davis and Diane Carol” influenced the fashion industry with their glamorous styles. “In the present, we think of Rhianna, Beyonce, ASAP Rocky and Kanye West…”
As well Beverly Johnson-Supermodel, Entrepreneur of “Think Beauty”– explained her viewpoint, “Tradition. We have traditional ways of wearing our hair, traditional styles, it’s an expression of who we are because we are proud and we look good!” as she said smiling.
After hearing these ladies speak about how influential black style was, I began to think to myself that we are a huge contribution to fashion and have a lot more to offer. As well the question of how did we become the “big influencers throughout the decade” came up too. Beverly Johnson stated that Hip-Hop has “flipped the switch” not only in the U.S. but globally too. I can agree with this statement, especially in today’s society. We have the big rap stars creating their own clothing lines, accessories and shoes such as Kanye West partnering with Nike to create the popular all red shoes, “Yezzy’s”. Constance White also brought up that black women who are wearing their natural hair, is making a huge comeback. I know in my experience (as I sport an afro) natural hair has made a huge impact on fashion. I see editorials in magazines, in which women are showcasing their lovely tresses and kinks, conventions focusing solely on natural hair, etc.
With other trends that we have started, along with Hip-Hop, were sneakers, denim and even finger waves. I honestly haven’t seen finger waves since the 90s, but I’m interested to see how they appear in today’s fashion world.
The last thought that truly had me thinking, was how they discussed that African-Americans aren’t as active today in fighting for what we want when it comes to having respect in this competitive industry. Beverly Johnson brought up that in the 70s there were more black models and designers than today, and not having that same influx of models and designers was alarming. We don’t have enough representation because we aren’t doing anything about it, which is true. If we as culture are not being respected, situations such as “The Black Woman Chair” , or “Blackface” will keep happening; we will not get back to those days of having full representation and being respected. Beverly Johnson brought up that “There has to be constant conversation in these rooms where all this is happening,” I felt as if this was call to arms, in which African-Americans need to be in every aspect of the creative development process. Situations like these are an insult to the context of our history.
Ending on a good note, the panel discussion was an amazing, motivating experience. I learned that black style has deep-rooted values in dignity, tradition, and pride. As well, my activist side was ignited and I want to be a part of the progression and preservation of black style, it’s my duty, my responsibility.
Until next time lovelies!