We all know the fashion industry is one of the most underrepresented areas around. The lack of diversity in gender and race has heavily influenced the success stories we've seen, both in front of and behind the lens. The significance of black culture in the fashion industry is non-negotiable. You can't go very far without seeing reminiscences of its influence, from the athleisure and 90's nostalgia. Throughout history, black people are the muse behind many of fashion's most notable trends, and the reason for the meteoric rise of our favorite trends today. And we're not just talking social media clout or simply selling out the newest TopShop collaboration.
According to a report, Black purchasing power was $1.3 trillion in 2019 and is projected to grow to $1.8 trillion by 2024 - a rate that will surpass white purchasing power. As racial inequalities in the workplace subside, the black dollar becomes more powerful. For decades, the fashion industry hasn't spoken to black people but, finally, designers can no longer afford to negate the black audience.
During a time where many brands are taking the first step of an overdue process towards more diversity and inclusion, there's also a growing desire to understand the history of black impact. American fashion historians like Shelby Ivey Christie use social platforms to reiterate the importance of preserving the trendsetters of our culture and keeping their impact alive.
To keep the momentum moving forward, here are 10 books on the decades-long impact of black culture on fashion.
The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora by Carol Tulloch
A perfect place to start, this book historically depicts the style narratives of black culture in the twentieth century.
NAOMI by Naomi Campbell
A beautifully curated book centered around the career of the incomparable Naomi Campell, this book features photographs from the likes of Steve Miesel and Bruce Weber. This collection also features text from Naomi to accompany her most iconic magazine covers, editorials, videos, and more.
Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion by Marcellas Reynolds
Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion is an archive of historic and iconic black supermodels that failed to make the mainstream history books.
EBONY: Covering Black America by Lavaille Lavette
You can't say much about the black influence on fashion without a thorough discussion of EBONY magazine. This collection of essays, photographs, and exclusive contributions paints a vivid picture of the cultural significance of the legendary magazine.
The Threads of Time, The Fabric of History: Profiles Of African American Dressmakers And Designers From 1850 To The Present by Rosemary E. Reed Miller
If you're a true student of fashion, The Threads of Time profiles 38 Afro-American designers from the 1850's - an era that holistically tends to negate the social contributions of black Americans.
Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R. Day and Mikael Awake
Fashion aficionados and the black community know about Harlem's infamous Dapper Dan, but mainstream fashion circles are just learning of his craft. In his 2019 memoir, Dapper Dan details his struggles and challenges within the problematic fashion industry for the first time.
Stylin’: African-American Expressive Culture, from Its Beginnings to the Zoot Suit by Shane White and Graham White
Spanning over two centuries, the authors of Stylin' explore the deep-rooted meaning behind the style choices of Afro-American communities in the 50s and 60s.
Vintage Black Glamour by Nichelle Gainer
Vintage Black Glamour
Vintage Black Glamour is a beautiful collection of portraits and profiles of world-renowned and lesser-known important black artists. The features range from entertainment icons like Diana Ross to pioneering model Ophelia De Vore, and many more.
Andre Leon Talley, ALT: A Memoir by Andre Leon Talley
Much has been speculated of Vogue Editor-At-Large Andre Leon Talley over the decades, but this self-penned collection of stories breaks down every prior wall. The style icon dives deep into his early VOGUE days, the challenges of being 'the only', and the continued inequality that still faces the industry.
Liberated Threads: Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul by Tanisha C. Ford
If the intersection of politics and fashion is an interest of yours, Liberated Threads needs to be your next purchase. Subtitled 'Black Women, Style, and the Global Politics of Soul', this thought-provoking book explores black women through the 60s and 80s incorporated activism into their style.
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