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A Brief History of Trends that Originated from Black Communities

by Jonquil Lawrence

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This article explores current fashion and beauty trends that have been popularized by Black people, both in and outside of the fashion industry. These styles have often been marginalized within canons of fashion and taste precisely because of their proximity to Blackness. However, through their visibility, continued relevance in pop culture, and the generated demand from consumers and culture, these Black styles continue to be appropriated by white and non-Black designers and consumers. In this process, Black style experiences hyper-visibility and a boost in cultural value, while the Black creators from whom the trends originate often remain obscured and uncredited. Lawrence charts a pop culture history of these trends, including painted nails, monogram print, hoop earrings, lettuce hem, and sneaker culture. From Cleopatra to Donyale Luna, to Donna Summer, to Flo Jo, and beyond, Lawrence shares a brief history of these very popular fashion and beauty trends and their histories within African American life and style.

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