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.
A perfect place to start, this book historically depicts the style narratives of black culture in the twentieth century.
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 is an archive of historic and iconic black supermodels that failed to make the mainstream history books.
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.
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
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.
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.
Featured image by Shutterstock
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Courtney is a contributing writer, based in Puerto Rico by way of Tennessee. Interested in the intersection of fashion and culture, she has an affinity for fashion, empowerment, and really good tacos. Keep up with her on Instagram (@hautecourtxo).
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As much as I talk about sex, this is a topic that I was excited to shed a spotlight on. Why? It’s simple, really. Despite how sexed — and sometimes it really does seem oversexed — that our culture and society may be, virgins are not extinct. Believe it or not, it’s been reported that around 27 percent of guys are still virgins when they first step foot on a college campus (as a freshman) and, globally, approximately 38 percent of people between the ages of 18-24 are still virgins too. And even though it’s not a ton of ‘em, there are still some virgins who are over 40 (I personally know three, although they declined to be interviewed for this article).
And even though it really does seem like, over the past 50-60 years or so, virginity has been looked at as something that should be ridiculed, side-eyed, or even flat-out dismissed, I don’t feel that way at all. Fourteen sex partners and many lessons later, I actually get that there are many perks that come with waiting. Not only that, but I’ve encountered enough virgins in my time to get that, like most things in life, virginity is not a monolith, there are tons of reasons why people choose not to have sex until later in life and, if there’s one thing that you can’t really “do over” (because no, there is no such thing as a “born-again virgin.” You lose your virginity ONCE) is “losing” your virginity (I prefer to say “giving.” You know where it is)— being careful and even uber-cautious about how and when your first time goes down is something that I very much so respect.
You don’t have to take my word for it, though. As someone who gave my “conscious virginity” (I am a survivor of molestation, which is why I put it that way) at 19, I wanted to hear from women of that age and older who still haven’t “partaken of the fruit” just yet. First, to give their journey a voice and second, to remind others who may not be so vocal about their own virginal sexual status that, no matter what social media may be yapping about, when it comes to the topic of virginity, they are certainly not alone — and there is definitely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about.
*Per usual, when it comes to these types of interviews that I conduct, middle names have been used.*
“It’s not like I planned to be this age and still a virgin. When I was in high school, I thought I would be married by now. I’m not, and that’s why I’m still a virgin. Does this mean I’m waiting until marriage? I am. I don’t see the point in giving some man my all without that level of commitment. I personally admire women who can because I don’t have the emotional strength or mental stamina to go through that kind of stress or pain — especially multiple times. I just think there is already enough to worry about in life than if I’m gonna get an STD, get pregnant by someone I don’t want to deal with for the rest of my life, or even if some man is going to call the next day.
"And before y’all even start — yes, I know that marriage comes with risks too. But if a man is willing to pledge his life to me and sign a legal contract to prove it just to get some, I’d rather go that route than some dude I met at a club or a guy who I dated for a couple of months, and it didn’t work out. To each their own, and this is the way that I choose to do it.”
“I’ve always been called an old soul. I don’t think that 22 is old, but it is old, these days, to be a virgin. Some people assume that I’m one for religious reasons. Really, it’s because I’m observant, and my sisters and friends who already gave it up usually had more drama in their lives than anything. I just want my first time to be with someone who, when I look back on it, I don’t have regrets. I’m not looking for the perfect guy, but damn, can he at least not ghost me, give me an orgasm, and keep the moment to himself instead of telling all of his boys? I don’t think that’s too much to ask — and if it is…oh well.”
“The question I get asked all of the time is if I’m saving it for marriage. I am. I used to say that I was waiting until I got engaged or at least fell in love, but I have friends who did that, and months after they had sex, the guys were gone. I know that marriage doesn’t guarantee anything, but I have some other friends who were virgins on their wedding night, and their lives just seem to be less intense.
“Not having sex has shown the true colors and real agendas of a lot of guys, so while it does get lonely, being this way makes it easier to see who is serious about a relationship and who just wants to get their d — k wet. Virginity can be the ultimate male marriage material predictor. At least it’s been that way for me.”
“I almost gave it up to my first love, and ‘he’ didn’t happen until college. The break-up damn near turned me into a basket case, so that proved to me that I’m not really for a sexual relationship. I think the best way to explain it is, until I know that I can emotionally handle giving myself to someone and it possibly not working out, I need to stay just where I’m at…and I’m just not there yet.”
“The timing of this is crazy because I almost lost my virginity last weekend. It’s a long story, but I was going to give it to a guy friend because I want my first time to be with someone who I trust. We didn’t go through with it because he said that he didn’t want to chance me regretting it and it ruining our friendship. I think it’s interesting that it seems that men value a woman’s virginity more than women do these days. Anyway, all I know is it won’t be just some random guy. If I don’t trust you with my heart, you will never be able to have my body. My standard will definitely be someone who was my friend first.”
“I’ve been too busy to give up my virginity. Sounds crazy, but it’s still the truth. I’ve always been very career-driven, so after getting my master’s, I decided to do a lot of traveling and then buy a home. It’s probably been over the past few months that my sexual status has even crossed my mind because dating just hasn’t been a priority.
“I guess you can say that having a full life is why I’m a virgin. When I can fit a man into my schedule, and I find him just as stimulating as what I currently have going on, I can almost assure you that my sexual status will change. Until then…stamps on the passport are my orgasms.”
“I’ve had plenty of oral sex — not giving, receiving. Some people say that, technically, I’m not a virgin anymore, but I guess I’ll speak for the women who fall into my special situation. The reason why I’ve never gone down on a guy is because I want that to be reserved for the one [who] I first have intercourse with. The reason why several have gone down on me? You know how guys are — they see virginity as a challenge and will go the distance to be the first. If they wanna try, who am I to stop them?
"As far as what I’m waiting on…I don’t really see it as ‘waiting.' I am open to it. I just haven’t been with someone who seems like he is who I should give it to. I think that the guy who never brings sex up will probably be the one who piques my interest. I’m already a challenge. I think I’m looking for someone who is one, too.”
“I’m a virgin because I’m focused. There are too many women at my school who are so distracted because of what some guy is doing or didn’t do — and I don’t have the time. I want to be able to have my master’s degree before my 23rd birthday, and I’m on the way to making that happen. I haven’t told anyone this, but the present I want to give myself is losing my virginity for graduation. I think an orgasm for all of my hard work makes sense. I know who I want the guy to be, too. He doesn’t know. Hope he doesn’t blow it. I’ll try to keep you posted.”
“All of the holy books value virginity, and that’s why you will never be able to convince me that there is not a serious spiritual breakdown in our society. What used to be respected is now a so-called social construct, and to me, that sounds like so many people are so hyper-sexed with no real reason or purpose that they want to take the ‘misery loves company’ approach — that because they weren’t taught to value virtue and virginity, they want as many other people as possible to follow suit. That will never be me. Until I meet the man who is deserving of being the first and only to enter into my body and spirit, I will remain a virgin and very proud of it.”
“I honestly don’t know why I’m still a virgin. Remember how you told me [Shellie] that after the first couple of years of abstinence, you got pickier and pickier? That’s the way I’ve been all of my life. I’m sure that sex is amazing, but it’s also complicated, physically kind of messy, and exposes you to a world of stuff that you don’t have to think about when you’re a virgin. I’m not scared to have sex, but I’m not in a rush. Look at me — I’m sure I’ll open these legs up one day, but I’m not checking off the calendar or anything. When I have room to explore the good and bad of sex, I’ll be more aggressive about it.”
There you have it — proof that there are at least ten virgins on the planet who aren’t still in high school. And what I like about each of them is there is both a confidence and focus outside of their sexual status that serves as a great reminder that sex is a part of who we are yet…it’s certainly not everything. And you know what? It never was designed to be.
So yes, kudos to them for having a personal type of conviction, for whatever the reason, and standing by it.
Virgins or not, it’s a reminder that we all should be firm in our standards about…something.
Amen? 1000 percent.
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