Designing While Black

Growing up in the South and coming from a family that didn’t have a ton of money, and obviously growing up in the church, you press your shirt. You would make sure that your tie matches your socks, your handbag matches your hat and your shoes. Being put together and showing the world and each other that, yes, I can also look nice, I can also speak well, I can also do all these things—that was my experience. I always wanted to make clothes that performed polish…that’s an important part of representation. The more you see yourself in things, the more empowered you feel to be able to go for those things…. It’s a long time coming, and I actually am loving the fact that white people are so uncomfortable. I live for it. I’ve been uncomfortable for the past 26 years, so it’s about time that you’re uncomfortable for a few months—and hopefully forever moving forward. For so long, Black people, we’ve been expected to perform. We’ve been expected to think about how we speak to white people. We’ve had to think about how we show up to places. We’ve had to think about how we treat other Black folks, whether we bring them with us or we shun them away out of fear of having to be “the only one,” whether it be in fashion, tech, politics…

 It cannot just be okay to pick my collection up because you need to stock Black designers—especially if I don’t fit your product category or your aesthetic. Find other Black designers that fit that aesthetic and invest in them. You must give deposits. You need to hire Black models, writers, editors, and stylists, but also trans stylists and nonbinary stylists and models. There needs to be a reckoning in all spaces.

People have to dig deeper, much deeper, and it can’t just be, “What can I do?” It should be, “What can I do, and then how do I supplement that? And maybe I should ask the people that I’m supporting if what I’m doing is enough.” Yes, I’m one of the most visible Black faces in fashion currently, but I also feel a responsibility to point out other Black people who are just as talented—Pierre Davis of No Sesso, Anifa Mvuemba of Hanifa, Edvin Thompson of Theophilio, Shanel Campbell of Bed on Water—and give them space. If we’re expecting Black excellence, we can no longer accept white mediocrity. – Christpoher Rogers

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3 Responses to Designing While Black

  1. Yes, I love Hanifa…..But I’m loving this, If we’re expecting Black excellence, we can no longer accept white mediocrity. That just gave me the victory! Thanks,

    Liked by 1 person

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