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Black Fashion and Style in the Spotlight

Fashion, style, and overall appearance have been defining factors in the rise of social media. Throughout the growth of social media empires such as Instagram, Snapchat, and Twitter, there has been an increasing amount of trends that have developed over the years that stem from black culture. Running a fine line between appreciation and appropriation, black fashion and style have always been important aspects in the culture and are now being seen worldwide. In order to ensure that society recognizes where the latest trends come from, we have to be knowledgeable on the contributions black style and designers have made to the world of fashion and trends.


First gaining popularity in the 1960’s and ‘70s, airbrushing t-shirts was an anomaly as airbrushing was typically used for cars. However, with the evolution and notoriety of hip-hop in the 1980’s airbrushed t-shirts became signature elements for outfits worn by legendary artists like LL Cool J and GrandMaster Flash. Spreading nationwide and later worldwide with the influence of hip hop, airbrushed t-shirts became staples in the black community, used to memorialize loved ones and role models, as seen in Drake’s airbrush t-shirt tribute to the late Tejanno singer Selena. 


Dapper Dan is the epitome of luxury streetwear, and one of the first brands to coin the term streetwear. Started in the 1980’s in Harlem, Dapper Dan is owned by Daniel Day who first started his brand during the rise of hip hop. Mixing labels like Fendi with his own designs, Dapper Dan created a frenzy that later led to his business being shut down due to claims of counterfeiting. This led to Dapper Dan renouncing mainstream fashion for years until recently in the later 2010’s. Streetwear is not a new trend and one of the pioneers of it was the black designer Dapper Dan. 


Popularized in the ‘80s and ‘90s, bamboo earrings and nameplate necklaces were stables in the black and Latinx communities. Worn by icons like Salt-n-Pepa and MC Lyte, these accessories have been a part of the culture for decades, however there has been a recent popularization of the style claiming the accessories as “new and trendy” styles. Even though there has been an element of cultural appropriation with them, bamboo earrings and nameplate necklaces are, and always will be, essential in the culture.


Black artists, designers, and visionaries have been the backbone of today’s latest fashion trends and styles. With the talents of its creators and the wearers of its fashion and accessories, black fashion has transcended generations and is still a pivotal element of mainstream culture. As the up and coming generation, it’s important that we acknowledge the contributions made by black designers and influencers in the worlds of fashion and style. 

Simone Nixon is a junior biology major, chemistry minor from Maryland. She enjoys telling the stories of the world around her and hearing the stories of others. She plans to pursue a career in the dental field.
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