The relationship between Blackness and luxury fashion, with its long history of exploitation, erasure, and appropriation, is complex and fraught. Anti-Black discourses within the fashion system often posit, through subliminal and overt messaging, that luxury is antithetical to Blackness. However, this persistent trope is not reflective of the quantitative and qualitative contributions that Black people have made and continue to make within luxury and high fashion, from the forced labor of enslaved Africans who facilitated a global economy that produced luxury and cotton (at one time more valuable than silk because of its demand within European and American high fashion), all the way to the present, where “street-style” dominates the aesthetic landscape of luxury brands. These five sources explore this topic of Blackness and luxury in even more detail as they delineate historical and contemporary moments of creative and cultural synergy and production.

Black & white photograph. Black Model in a sleeveless sequin evening gown with matching headpiece.

Photograph credited to Charles Teenie Harris, 1960-1970. Model in an evening gown with matching headpiece. Teenie Harris Photographs Collections, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh.