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

A Statement from The Fashion and Race Database

The Fashion and Race Database was established as a space to amplify the voices of those who have been racialized (and thus marginalized) in fashion, to illuminate under-examined histories, and to address racism throughout the fashion system. Our team also prides itself on providing research and publishing opportunities to students, scholars, and writers concerned with dismantling racism and decentralizing the narrative of fashion history.

FRD has been reader-supported since its inception, and through the generosity and support of our community, in 2021, we were able to publish 8 Objects That Matter, 3 Profiles, 7 essays, 15 Issues of In the News, and 47 Reading Lists. We also added hundreds of resources to our first-of-its-kind Library.

As The Fashion and Race Database prepares to enter the next phase of our growth, our team will be on an extended winter hiatus through February 2022. In the meantime, we’ll be working in the background to ensure that the database continues to lead the way in enacting lasting change in the fashion industry. If you are interested in getting involved with The Fashion and Race Database in 2022 and beyond, reach out to our team today!

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.”

Geta

The geta is a wooden thonged sandal that comes from Japan. One of the many traditional footwear of Japan, the geta makes its distinction from the rest with its elevated stilts, or “teeth,” on the sole.

Sombrero de paja toquilla

The sombrero de paja toquilla (toquilla straw hat) is hand-woven from the boiled, dried, and bleached fibers of toquilla (carludovica palmata), which comes from a palm tree native to the Pacific coast of present-day Ecuador. Despite originating in present-day Ecuador and southern Colombia, the sombrero de paja toquilla is known internationally as the “Panama Hat.”

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.

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The Calendar

Rights and Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture 

On view through February 27, 2022 at the California African American Museum, “Rights and Rituals: The Making of African American Debutante Culture” investigates the origins of these social organizations and the ways they supported young Black women’s participation in vital, albeit sometimes understated, race work. Through photographs, objects, and ephemera, the exhibition explores the foundational ideas of W.E.B. Du Bois’s racial uplift movement and how African American social organizations melded upliftment ideologies with established European debutante traditions to create a unique cultural phenomenon that persists to this day. With a focus on the 1880s to the transformative decades of the 1950s and 1960s, Rights and Rituals looks specifically at how Black debutante culture developed in the West and offers a new perspective on its participants’ contributions, both visible and invisible, to the fight for civil rights.

Click here to learn more about this exhibition, and to learn more about other events happening near you, click here.

Man holding the hand of a woman coming down stairs

the library

Re-Imagining African Diasporic Fashion

This week’s reading list, complied by FRD Research and Editorial Intern Gillani Peets, discusses fashion’s place within discourses about the African Diaspora. 

“African Diasporic Fashion is a defiant visual tradition rooted in redesigning testimonials of poetic writers, eternal improvisations of jazz maestros, radical artistry of painters, and political commentary of photographers. Transversed beyond time or land, this list reimagines the past, present, and future of African Diasporic fashion.   “⁠⁠

Check out the latest reading list here.

black and white photo of young man in suit and sunglasses on a motorcycle

Photographed by Sanlé Sory. Yamaha de Nuit , 1972, Silver gelatin print 20 x 16 inches. Courtesy of Jackson Art Atlanta.

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.

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