The Fashion and Race Database provides an accessible, academic treatment to one of fashion’s most critical topics facing us today.

Essays & News

Issue 10: News Roundup, September 17, 2021

This week, we review the Met Gala’s most significant statement looks, delve into why Balanciaga is being accused of cultural appropriation, and examine how fast fashion is intertwined with a major human rights crisis.

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Black and white image of dressed mannequins

Image: Unsplash

The Calendar

Textures: The History and Art of Black Hair

Textures synthesizes research in history, fashion, art, and visual culture to reassess the “hair story” of peoples of African descent. Long a fraught topic for African Americans and others in the diaspora, Black hair is here addressed by artists, barbers, and activists in both its historical perceptions and its ramifications for self and society today. Combs, products, and implements from the collection of hair pioneer Willie Morrow are paired here with masterworks from artists including James Van Der Zee, Sonya Clark, Lorna Simpson, Mary Sibande and Zanele Muholi. Exploring topics such as the preferential treatment of straight hair, the social hierarchies of skin, and the power and politics of display, TEXTURES is a landmark exploration of Black hair and its important, complicated place in the history of African American life and culture. The exhibition is organized by the KSU Museum with co-curators, Joseph L. Underwood, assistant professor of art history at KSU and Tameka Ellington, associate professor at the School of Fashion at KSU. “Textures: The History and Art of Black Hair” is on view in Kent State UniversityMuseum until August 14th, 2022.

Click here to learn more about this event.

Tawny Chatmon, Heir/Present of God, 2017. Image.

Featured Content

Moving Beyond Performance: When Brand Allyship Goes Wrong

“While fashion brands may feel that making statements or donating money is sufficient, they need to reflect deeper on how they participate in the same injustice and oppression that they speak out against.” Zari Alyssa Taylor considers performative allyship through the example of Guess and Telfar Global.

Reframing European Luxury: The Exclusivity of the Black American Brand Ambassador

From Willow Smith and Rihanna to Zoe Kravitz and Zendaya, the number of Black American women appointed as ambassadors of French and Italian historical couture brands has been growing since the 2010s. But surprisingly, predominantly African American women are selected to embody this European heritage all over the world while local French and Italian Black women are nowhere to be seen in these elitist spaces.

The Racist Underbelly of Instagram Moodboards

As many fashion brands begin to shift their messaging to be more diverse and inclusive, niche communities are forming around the images of the past. Nostalgia marketing is becoming ubiquitous within the industry. Kathryn C. considers how the form of the Instagram moodboard is aestheticizing problematic elements of the past under the guise of “good taste.”

Fashion Architect Misa Hylton

Misa Hylton, stylist and fashion architect, was pivotal in crafting the visual presence of Hip Hop in the 1990s, working with figures such as Lil Kim, Mary J. Blige, Jodeci, and more.

The Ebony Fashion Fair

The Ebony Fashion Fair brought the colorful fashion pages of Ebony magazine to people across the United States for 51 years.


Şalvar are baggy trousers that formed part of the dress of the Turks who came to Anatolia in the eleventh century C.E. and continue to be worn today.

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Reading List

De-centering Luxury

The word “luxury” is often mentioned in relation to fashion. But, what, exactly, is luxury? While there might be a number of dictionary definitions for the term, the reality is that the meanings of luxury are constituted socially and vary depending on the context. This reading list offers five case studies that reveal different meanings of luxury that have emerged in specific contexts, past and present, from around the world. Compiled by FRD Researcher, Laura Beltrán-Rubio.

Check out the latest reading list.

Black and white photo of actress Sono Osato wearing a Chanel jewelry headpiec in the shape of a bow and diamonds dangling down her face

Photograph by George Platt Lynes. Sono Osato wearing Chanel jewelry in Harper’s Bazaar, May 1938. Sourced via the Asian Fashion Archive.

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