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.
About The Author
Kai (they/them) is an aspiring cultural and fashion historian. Their work centers the body politics of beauty, clothing, identity, glamour and style and their interactions with the meaning-making functions of the fashion system. Their work also attempts to decolonize exclusionary historical discourses by centering the histories of queer and Black peoples who have been systematically obscured from collective memory. Kai is a recent graduate of Sarah Lawrence College, where they received a BA in Art History and the Cultural History of Dress and Fashion.