Collegiate Fashion and Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus

by Dyese Matthews & Kelly L. Reddy-Best

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February 2020 – April 2020

Collegiate Fashion & Activism: Black Women’s Styles on the College Campus analyzes the ways Black women college students attending predominately white institutions in Iowa express their Black identity, activism, and expressions of empowerment through fashion. The focus is on Black women’s everyday clothing and its connection to Black student empowerment on Iowa college campuses.

Fifteen Black women college students who are currently attending predominately white institutions in Iowa shared stories through an in-depth interview about their fashion and style. Then, these same women collectively loaned 40 garments or accessories that they discussed during their interviews, which were then placed on display. The Black women also shared images during the interview, featured on the walls of the gallery, and in the “photography” section of the catalog. Through eleven themes, the ways Black women represent themselves every day in predominately white spaces within the highly turbulent, current social climate were explored.

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