Fashion's Persistent Color Problem

Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond explains in a piece for Ebony why models and designers of color continue to struggle even though black personalities top fashion's "it" list.

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Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond explains in a piece for Ebony why models and designers of color continue to struggle even though black personalities top fashion's "it" list.

Michelle Obama is arguably the most important fashion star of the moment. When she wears a designer brand, the endorsement is literally heard around the world with everyone from fashion bloggers to hard news journalists documenting the decision, as they did with her repeat choice of Jason Wu at the 2013 Inauguration. Likewise, Rihanna's and Beyoncé's hair, make-up, nails, and outfit changes are regular fodder for magazines, style blogs, and fashion news programs.

Meanwhile, in the fashion industry itself, some of the most iconic personalities in the business today include Naomi Campbell, Andre Leon Talley, and Tyra Banks. Speaking of Tyra, Black personalities dominate fashion reality TV with June Ambrose, Nicole Richie, and Talley among style's small screen stars; and Rihanna and Campbell are coming soon to a TV near you.

But in spite of the fact that these celebs and personalities belie the fallacy White consumers won't patronize publications or products bearing a Black face, most African-American models struggle to book work consistently, while some Black designers express anxiety about being seen as catering only to Black customers ...

Hardison continues in the film, "No one wants to think of themselves as racist, but no matter how much they say 'Oh, it's not my aesthetic. It's just not my aesthetic.' The word 'aesthetic' is borderline racist at this point."

Read Nana Ekua Brew-Hammond's entire piece at Ebony.

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