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Black Fashion

fashion - general - cosmetics

Marketing & Development

Report 019 / 2020-07-08

How politics are once again shaping black fashion.

In the wake of the George Floyd / Black Lives Matter protests, we began to realise our perception of fashion and it’s history had been influenced by the power held by the Western World. Our subconscious ignorance of Black Fashion and its history began to sink in and shock us once these protests became mainstream. An interest and appreciation in this rich cultural background will take the spotlight in the future.

The cosmetic industry can no longer deny their involvement in the systematic whitewashing of black culture. The fashion and cosmetic world is beginning to see it is time to take influences from human history, rather than from white history. A BIG change will come in 'The World After'. The cosmetics industry will include more people of colour in product and marketing developments, and launch more (high end) products for people of colour.

The systematic whitewashing of black culture, even in fashion, started a long time ago. With people of colour being forced into white clothing & makeup, learning white languages, and getting accustomed to white culture, it is no surprise our current generation has little knowledge of this part of history.

During the Civil Rights Movement, we saw African Americans copying white, polished ‘sunday attire’ for political credence. Dressing sharp, using white and Christian values reframed the idea of what a civil rights protester looked like. Appearing in this manner was a demand by African Americans to be seen as citizens.

After the Civil Rights Act made its way into the United States in 1964 we begin seeing new fashion based on traditional African clothing. A new interest in African culture inspired youngsters of all races. Hippie/Counterculture soon embraced the bright colours and comfortable clothes to seek relief from the formal, tailored clothing of the early 1960s.

After this, African American pride soared up, afros now becoming accepted along with other more traditional clothing and hairstyles. With hip-hop gaining traction in the ‘80s and becoming mainstream in the ‘90s, the fashion too become popular. Starting out as flashy tracksuits, large sunglasses, and bucket hats, the hip-hop fashion scene began coinciding with a new movement of black nationalism. Blousy pants, ‘Africa’ chains, dreadlocks and other hairstyles reflected traditional African influences.

We once again see fashion used as political tool, this time mostly to convey statements. Oftentimes very powerful statements in bold letters are used to address the seriousness and harsh reality of today’s society. Messages as ‘Stop Killing Us.’ or ‘Don’t Shoot’ accompanied by the traditional three word powerpunch ‘Black Lives Matter’. The plain t-shirts these prints are often on convey a serious message in the background. It says to us: We know how to dress, but this is more serious than fashion right now. The clothes they are wearing do not matter, it is quite literally about the message.

With the Second Civil Rights Movement happening right now, influences from different ethnicities around the world will once again make fashion headlines. The world is beginning to see it is time to take influences from human history, rather than from white history.

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