Cultural Appreciation, not Cultural Appropriation
Black Culture is undoubtedly one of the biggest influences on today’s fashion and has been for many many years. Society seems to pick apart pieces of Black culture and glamorize them on commercially idealized bodies of skinny, white men and women but usually bash Black men and women when they wear these trends, calling them ratchet and ghetto. Here are 9 ways how Black culture influenced fashion and beauty and impacted the fashion of today since we need to be educated and cherish these aspects of the culture too.
The bucket hat was not always designed for fashion, being used for farming and fishing circa the 1900s. However, with the use of them by the military, it became more mainstream and a part of everyday fashion. Black rapper Big Bank Hank wearing the bucket hat on a TV show and LL Cool J wearing a red iconic bucket hat normalized the use of the bucket hats in street fashion, with the comeback it made in 2020.
Logo Outfits & Sweatsuits
Matching sets and sweatsuits were a huge part of Black fashion and are quite mainstream nowadays. Logomania and having a logo print outfit was popularized by names like Dappy Dan, Jay Z, and the girls from Destiny’s Child. Today Logomania is another popular trend making a comeback through designers like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, Fendi, Dior, and more.
The origins of this trend reach back to the 80’s HipHop era from the Black Community, with the rise it had during the ’90s. Due to clothing being handed down from older siblings or relatives in the Black community, oversized and improper sizing of clothing was familiar to all. Rappers started performing in such clothing to give a nod to their communities and also connect with their audiences to a higher extent, increasing the popularity of oversized clothing even more.
HipHop culture and Black culture has morphed within themselves throughout history, and one of the strongest strands of that was sneaker culture. The sneaker-head culture has long been a wave that influences street fashion through brands and sneakers like Nike and Jordans, which recently became quite popular again. Nowadays, sneaker culture collaborates with designers and customizers, creating statement pieces such as the Dior Air Jordan 1’s.
Script Necklaces & Jewelry
Chunky gold jewelry and chains were a big part of black culture ever since way back in history. From waist chains to anklets and gold chokers, black people have used glamour and mixed it with street styles, making it their own and influencing upcoming generations. Especially customized necklaces and rings with names or stage names were curated within the HipHop industry, started mainly by black people but took off and became extremely popular.
Hoop earrings have to be one of the biggest pieces of jewelry that ever came out of Black culture. Gold or silver hoops, as well as bamboo hoop earring, have been statement pieces but are also culturally important since their usage by famous Black artists Nina Simone and Angela Davis since the 1960s. The main issue behind hoop earrings today is due to the negative connotation of them being ratchet or unprofessional when the Black community wears them but perfectly fashionable when majorities wear them.
Creative hairstyles including braids, puffs, space buns, and huge afros have mainly originated from black culture, and continue influencing hair nowadays. As the ‘Black Is Beautiful’ movement emerged, disrupting the commercial idea of White features defining traditional beauty, black men and women started finding power in their natural hair and afros, hence this becoming a symbol of political activism. Activist and former Black Panther (Activist group for the BLM movement), Angela Davis, was key in fashion in this period with her embodiment of natural black hair and jewelry.
Bonus! Hair Accessories
It should also be noted that barrettes and hair clips were curations of black culture, especially in the early 2000s, regaining popularity nowadays. Beads that are secured at the ends of hair braids, as well as blinged-out hair accessories, are Black curated trends that are wrongly used and appropriated by commercial markets, while Black man and women are still fighting to be able to wear them at their workplaces and schools due to racist restrictions and dress codes.
Acrylic nails can be seen on the fingertips of black women for decades now. From Serena Williams wearing long intricate acrylic nails and nail art during her matches to the rise of RnB artists and their long nail art, runways, couture, and high fashion is also accepting and using acrylic nails. Fashion and glamour are key in Black culture which is clear with the detailing and usage of various designs even on their nails.
Grillz and Tooth Bling
Grillz and adding blinged stones to teeth regained popularity with the comeback of the early 2000s fashion and the rise of RnB and HipHop in 2020, making its stand in fashion symbolizing wealth and pop culture. Custom Grillz with colorful gemstones is a newer approach to the trend, with full gold-covered teeth is an old-school style that remains popular.
Inspired by: @zenerations @bronze_bombshell on Instagram
Editing by: Elif Duru Erdoğan inspired by @anniebercy
Photography credits: @anniebercy, @sadgrlj, Vogue Magazine, NSS Magazine, the Guardian, People, Josef Adamu, Vice Magazine, @blackgirlflymag & Pinterest