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

Essays & News

Issue 15: News Roundup, November 26, 2021

Rounding out our final In the News Issue for 2021, we examine the complexities of tackling cultural beauty standards in imagemaking, barriers to diversity in the jewelry industry, and the extraordinary impact of fashion overproduction.

Read the latest issue here.

“Vision” de Chen Man, image by Jean-Pierre Dalbéra is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

The Calendar

History is Rarely Black or White 

In Canada, The Agnes Etherington Art Centre presents History is Rarely Black or White

The cotton industry advanced climate change, widened global income disparity and commercialized the oppression of marginalized communities. Lives were irrevocably changed by these effects. History Is Rarely Black or White focuses on people groups brought forcibly to North America through the Transatlantic Slave Trade, as well as their descendants in the United States and Canada.

History is Rarely Black or White interrogates cotton garments in the Queen’s Collection of Canadian Dress through archival research and scientific analysis that connects these materials to resource extraction, Indigenous displacement, enslaved labour, and the Underground Railroad. 

History is Rarely Black or White is opened until March 20, 2022. To learn more about History is Rarely Black or White click here. 

To learn more about events happening near you click here.

Damian Jöel, Songs of the Gullah, 2020 in History is Rarely Black or White. Photograph by Paul Litherland.

the library

Refashioning Traditional Wear

This week’s reading list, complied by Research Assistant Alliya Lopez, discusses fashion’s place within discourses about Traditional Wear and how we can refashion it. 

“This week’s roundup features contemporary narratives of traditional wear around the world. Exploring the diaspora of different cultures, the books in this reading list present reimagined displays of dress and objects that have long been associated with nationality and heritage. Innovation, modernity, and growth are exemplified in these sources.”⁠⁠

Check out the latest reading list here.

Two women wearing traditional dresses, standing on green grass

Photograph by Alex Sorto. Two women wearing traditional dresses, standing on green grass in California, United States, 2018.

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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