Fashion trends come and go, but quite often, individuals pick up on fashion trends without worrying about where they came from. For some, clothing may be just a means of expression, but for many cultures there is a deeply rooted story behind why and what they wear.
“Fashion, especially within black culture, has such a deep history and meaning,” said Bria Felix, junior apparel, merchandising and design. “I really wish people would find out why we wore the things we had in the past. It’s so deep that I wish people would understand more. “
While many may not even realize it, a large part of the trends circulating in the fashion world began within the black community.
From tracksuits to bucket hats to figure-hugging dresses, many of the items that are now considered highly “stylish” were not always viewed in the same light. Often times, trends that start within the black community tend to move towards mainstream fashion after losing touch with black culture.
“Growing up as a black woman and starting out as a young girl, a lot of the things we did with our hair, like pearls and hair clips, made fun of each other and it was something we felt bad about,” he told Laquetta Buchanan, Senior in apparel, merchandising and design. “It was something we had to work on to accept ourselves, and it’s sad because the same thing is often praised when it’s carried over into white culture.”
For many blacks, getting fashion trends on the scene can be incredibly frustrating, not only because their community often wore an item first, but also because many black designers aren’t as widely praised or recognized at all as their white counterparts when they are is about the design of the article.
It can also be difficult for many to watch something that was once ridiculed for being used by one culture becomes “all the rage” when it is picked up by mainstream culture.
Some current fashion trends, such as bucket hats and shoulder bags, were popularized by black women years ago but are now returning as a mainstream fashion trend.
“I honestly think the difference in how people see trends is often just how they are associated with blacks,” said Felix. “Once we’re basically erased from these trends, it’s cool and new, but if it’s popular with the black community, it becomes ghetto or weird.”
While the popularity of trends from black culture may seem only positive to the community at first, difficulties also arise when your original ideas are received and used in ways that you did not intend.
“It’s complicated because, on the one hand, the popularity of black designers and their brands definitely gets more attention at times,” said Buchanan. “But there are also so many white designers who are making the same product and who are more popular, which takes money away from the black designer. “
While the idea of cultural appropriation is often a difficult topic for many, when it comes to clothing, most people just want everyday people to understand a little better where their clothes are coming from.
“It becomes more difficult with clothes because you can’t necessarily say that a culture owns clothes, even if they made them popular,” said Felix. “I personally think it’s not appropriation, but it just frustrates me that so many people didn’t appreciate the trends when we wore them, but then changed their minds as soon as they moved cultures.”
For most, more understanding and research is what is desired by many communities whose trends are used so often without being given context or homage in return.
“I really just wish people would understand better that when the black community is talking about fashion it’s such an important aspect to us,” said Felix. “I think that’s why it’s so important to do your research and ask questions, because it’s an amazing part of who we are. “