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5 Popular Fashion Trends that Originated from Black Culture

Many of us love keeping up with the latest fashion trends. It’s amazing to see trends that were once popular resurface in mainstream fashion. Within the last few years, many trends have become repopularized or introduced into mainstream culture due to the likes of celebrities and influencers. While it’s nice to see trends being introduced to a larger audience, it’s important to note where they originated from. Oftentimes fashion trends will be inspired by a variety of cultures, but often aren’t acknowledged when it’s time to pay respect to the cultures that created them. So I wanted to highlight some of today’s most popular trends and where they originated – in the black community. 

Sneaker Culture

Remember Inauguration day when social media went into a frenzy because someone was spotted wearing the Air Dior sneakers? Many people are self proclaimed sneakerheads, owning expensive collections of shoes ranging from luxury designers to vintage. There’s also the “hypebeast” movement dedicated to high end sneakers and streetwear. There are even apps and social media pages dedicated to them.  However, it’s important to note that this trend took off due to hip-hop culture, basketball and specifically Michael Jordan. Jordan collaborated with Nike in the 1980s to produce the Air Jordan. The shoe was immediately popular among rappers and in the black community. It entered the fashion world once black celebrities started pairing the shoe with everyday wear. Today the shoe continues to be one of the best selling sneakers across the world.

Acrylic Nails

Now it’s not uncommon to see someone with long, beautiful acrylic nails that have been decorated with some form of art. We often spot these nails on the red carpet, magazines and even the runway. Many often accentuate their acrylics with jewelry, chains, money and even more accessories. While these accessories have now become mainstream, they have been present in the black community for decades. While introduced in the 60s, they didn’t become popular until the 1980s due to Olympian Florence Joyner, who often sported her vibrant acrylic nails on the track. In the 90s, the trend continued thanks to nail artist Bernadette Thompson who often did nails for popular hip-hop and R&B artists. 


Over the past few years, celebrities such as Billie Eilish have become idolized due to their flashy outfits decked out in designer logos. Recently the trend of wearing clothes covered in the logos of popular brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Versace and countless others have become popular in Hollywood. While the origins of logomania, or monogram print, is often debated, many trace its roots back to Dapper Dan in the 1980s. The Harlem based creator  began screen printing designer logos onto clothing and began selling them in his boutique. At the time, most major brands hadn’t thought of the idea. Dapper Dan later began selling to more upscale clientele such as Jay-Z and P Diddy. After his shop was shut down the demand for monogram print clothing skyrocketed.

Hoop earrings

Today, I don’t feel my outfit is complete unless I have on a cute pair of earrings. Hoop earrings in particular have been popularized by mainstream fashion outlets and celebrities. Many people love their versatility as you can get them in nearly every shape, size and color. They are often styled with simple everyday outfits to formal wear. In the black community, hoop earrings have been a fashion staple since the 1920s, with Josephine Baker, to the early 2000s with Missy Elliott, Aaliyah and countless other artists. The hoop earring was even a staple part of the soul and disco movement of the 70s.

Lettuce Hem

With the resurgence of Y2K fashion, you may notice one common feature in many wardrobes – lettuce hem, which is the ruffled hem at the end of a fabric in order to create a wave-like appearance. The design is now being seen on popular brands such as Brandy Melville to luxury designers. The lettuce hem was actually invented by designer Stephen Burrows after misunderstanding a request made by then editor-in-chief of Vogue Diana Vreeland. Vreeland requested a design in the color “lettuce” and Burrows decided to create a hem inspired by the food. Burrows played an important role in black fashion during the 1970s and we continue to see many designers today influenced by his work. Fashion trends come and go, but it’s important to give credit where credit is due. Remember to acknowledge the culture where these trends originated and the people who did it first.

Madison Davis is a second-year, Biology/Pre-Med major, Communications minor from Memphis, TN. She enjoys traveling, cooking, and playing with her dogs, Pyper and Jamocha! She's honored to share her experiences through her writing with the HerCampus community. Feel free to visit her Instagram page @maddyecamille!
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