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Lack of Recognition for Black Fashion Designers

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.

In the world of fashion, trends are spinning faster and faster each year. So fast that we often forget to credit the communities which influence the shiny new trends we are so infatuated with. It doesn’t stop with the short-lived trends we collect and then toss, but longer-lasting pieces as well. There are several fashion subcultures highly influenced by trends the Black community has set.

In order for anything to be considered a trend, it has to be adopted and enjoyed by the mass majority of consumers for a period of time. Not necessarily a long period of time, but at least enough for it to catch on. Fashion trends don’t just appear out of thin air, nor are they only inspired by fashion itself. Style and fashion are inspired by the world around us.

It is not only in modern times that fashion is influenced by the Black community, but at least since the beginning of the century. Middle-class, average citizens are influenced as well as those with high status such as the first lady. Jackie Kennedy’s iconic wedding gown and dresses for the entire bridal party was designed by the Black designer, Ann Lowe. Despite creating an iconic piece for a major public figure, she receives little recognition. Lowe is a prime example of a Black artist not getting the recognition they earned.

Although there already is an existing influence from the Black community in a space as high honor as designing a first lady’s wedding attire, it is only in more recent years that the influences of the Black community have been acknowledged in designer and luxury fashion and brands. “Logomania” has been a strong and ongoing trend, especially among designer brands. Well known brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Dior and Yves St Laurent make their logos into a pattern on pieces. This can all be accredited to Daniel Dan, also known as Dapper Dan. Originally from Harlem, Dan made designs of off-brand designer logos as patterns in the 80s. This went on until the early 90s when he was forced out of design due to legal pressure. This trend started to come back in 2018 continues to go strong today.

There is an ongoing trend of streetwear, both dressed up and dressed down. A major element of streetwear is the underlying trend of baggy and oversized clothes. This was especially prevalent among major rap artists, especially Kanye West. Streetwear made its way to the runway when Virgil Abloh worked with Louis Vuitton in 2018 and really made it mainstream. Despite this being a major event in the fashion world, as well as streetwear now being held to higher respect, it still is looked down upon as low class. While streetwear for the average person looks like oversized t-shirts, jackets, baggy pants and sneakers, it can easily be dressed up for the runway in the high fashion world.

These are just a few examples of the lack of respect and recognition the Black community and Black artists receive in the world of fashion. This lack of respect for Black talent can translate itself outside of the world of fashion. Despite having a major impact on the average person’s fashion choices and in high fashion, there is still a lack of recognition and credit given.

Salma is a freshman at VCU. She is currently undecided, but considering majoring in journalism. She loves iced coffee and a comforting gilmore girls marathon.
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