Fashion is expression. It is a reflection of the trends, mannerisms, and behaviors that are popular in society at a given point in history. For centuries, Black culture has been the largest influence on the fashion industry and civilization as a whole yet has been given no credit. When Black people popularize a trend and express their culture, it is associated with negative connotations but when white people appropriate the same styles, they are praised for the innovation and profit off of the stolen culture. This double standard is deeply ingrained in the racist system we live in and is not acceptable. Trends and styles in fashion hold significance and meaning to the culture they originate from, meaning when a piece of another culture is taken without knowing the history behind it, the culture is being appropriated, not appreciated. Black people must be credited and celebrated for all that they have contributed throughout history. Some fashion trends can be traced back to ancient times and others have been more recent, all however are significant to Black people and Black culture around the world today.
Here is a list of a few trends that are popular in today’s society that have been influenced by Black culture:
Nail extensions such as acrylic nails have been worn by Egyptian women since 3000 BC and in the 14th century by royal figures to show status. Acrylics were created in the 1950s and were worn by the first Black woman on the cover of Vogue (Donyale Luna) in 1966, quickly becoming a large part of and associated with Black culture. They were even more popularized in the 90s with the rise of hip hop and R&B artists.
Many believe that the print was founded by ‘Dapper Dan’, a streetwear pioneer in New York in the 1980s. Designer brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton implemented the print.
The jewelry has been seen as a powerful symbol in many non-European cultures but can be dated back to the 4th century in Africa. They were reintroduced in the ‘20s with civil rights activists and iconic figures such as Josephine Baker, later becoming normalized in Black culture by the ‘60s and so on.
Normalized the look in street fashion in the ‘80s by the Black rapper Big Bank Hank and hip hop community as a whole. They were previously worn by farmers and for other practical uses.
Logo Outfits and Sweatsuits
Along with monogram print, sweatsuits were popularized by artists such as Dappy Dan, Jay Z, and other musicians.
Began due to clothing being passed down from older siblings or relatives in the Black community in the ‘90s.
Sneaker culture came about with designers and also leading figures such as Michael Jordan and hip hop culture.
Script necklaces and jewelry
Popularized in streetwear and the hip hop industry. Jewelry included waist chains, gold chokers, and anklets.
Barrettes and hair clips have always been part of Black culture but were especially prevalent in the 2000s. Other accessories such as beads are appropriated today by commercial markets; where accessories can lead to discrimination and racism.
Grillz and Tooth Jewelry
Widely popularized in the ‘80s with hip hop and R&B culture, symbolizing wealth and culture.