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Black Aesthetics are “Ghetto Until Proven Fashionable”

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BY SHATAY SPEIGHTS

When highlighting new trends in fashion, especially those that are “inspired” by the style and aesthetics from black and brown communities, credit is rarely given to those within the communities that bring these trends to the forefront. Trends that are established by black and brown persons are often seen as lowbrow or ghetto, until they are reimagined and remarketed as hot new trends originating from a more palatable source.

 

Back in February during Paris Fashion Week , one woman’s fashion statement illustrated this concept perfectly. The image above of Melody Trend (@frntrow) donning a hoodie with the attention-grabbing slogan “GHETTO UNTIL PROVEN FASHIONABLE” went viral on social media and sold out immediately after appearing on Phil Oh‘s Gallery for Vogue.com. The hoodie’s message sparked conversation, especially among black and brown communities, shedding light on the continuous habit the fashion industry has of extracting trends and aesthetics from black and brown people and marketing them as something new on a white or racially ambiguous woman. Black women (from the “hood”) specifically are labeled as ghetto and ratchet and left out of the narrative as trendsetters because of their features, figures, choice in hairstyles, style and carefree nature, yet have to sit back and watch as those very things are monetized, praised and accepted on women like Taylor Swift, Miley Cyrus, Kim Kardashian, Katy Perry and the like. Corn rows, Bantu knots, gold fronts, multi-color/neon hair extensions, door knocker-esque earrings, beauty supply Chinese slippers and airbrushed sweatshirts (Balenciaga got tons of backlash for these), the “thug life” persona, bandanas and much more. It’s crazy how much mainstream fashion profits off of the black aesthetics but can’t seem to give them their props. The sweatshirt’s statement is so important. The black aesthetic as well as that of other persons of color is often an afterthought until it is deemed valuable and profitable and can be marketed as the new, hot thing.

Balenciaga’s airbrush hoodie, retailing for nearly $900 Image Credit: Teen Vogue

The fashion industry shows time and time again that they value the aesthetics of people of color without having to credit the originators of or the people that wear various trends. We must continue to call out the industry and require them to give credit where credit is due!

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