Often unappreciated, but never unnoticed – welcome to the show that celebrates Black contributions to fashion. Hosted by fashion educator Kimberly Jenkins, this five-part series explores moments in history when Black Americans demanded respect, challenged norms, built community and imagined the future – all through what they wore. From The Fashion and Race Database, Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place Program and Pineapple Street Studios.

Transcript of this episode

Brandice: We have been really left out of history and so many industries in this country and in this world and fashion is one of those places.

Kimberly:: The fashion industry is known for highlighting its many glittering stars – the folks responsible for setting standards and trends. However, in America, the picture that’s painted all too often neglects to color in the more diverse shades of that story.

Jeffrey: All I wanted from the time I was 10 years old was to live and be in New York and work in the fashion business.

Randy: I am a kid who’s from Youngstown, Ohio, who just could only dream to be in fashion. And I often say I’m a unicorn and I shouldn’t be here.

Ade: It’s always cheesy to say I had a passion for fashion <laugh> but truly my passion for fashion started when I was a young girl.

Kimberly: I’m Kimberly Jenkins, a fashion scholar, industry consultant, and all-around “curious person” when it comes to the influences behind what we wear. I’ll be leading you on the journey through this podcast. We’ve curated a space of acknowledgement and celebration. I’ll be speaking with designers, stylists, scholars, artists and more.

Monica: From what we just told you, where we came from to be working with the biggest artists in hip hop. And guess what? Be talking the way we talk, looking the way we look and doing it our way.

Darnell-Jamal: Starting the performance with that strut, with that entire ensemble and then she rising from the bleachers at the top and you see the band and then she’s wearing her yellow hoodie with the Louboutin boots. I mean, it was a moment that I was like, “Okay.”

Kimberly: On The Invisible Seam, we’re taking you through the legacy of Black contributions to fashion, while excavating what we think and feel about this history.

Jasmine: I feel like when I put on my costume for Whitley, it made me more her!

Ceci: I designed this little, very short cropped, textured, uh, vest and like a kufi and she had high waisted pants and it was just elegant, but it was Afro elegant. That shit was the bomb. I was like, oh!

Kimberly: We’ll be exploring the multibillion dollar American fashion industry and its symbiotic relationship to music and Historically Black Colleges and Universities, and how our clothing choices can reinforce what we stand for and who we want to honor.

Aria: Yes, we love clothes, but it’s a coping mechanism. We’re creating this fantasy for ourselves to get through life and to create a certain type of armor.

Letesha: My journey is constantly feeling overlooked. But, I am hopeful, and I continue to remain hopeful and I continue to fight and put out what I want to put out and do it the way that I want to do it.

Kimberly: We also look to the future to ponder how far we’ve come and what lies ahead.

Law: You know, I still go to meetings and sit in rooms and I’m the only Black person there. And you know so, if you let me in, like, there will be no more doors or shut windows. I’m taking the door with me!

Kimberly: Join us and subscribe to The Invisible Seam. From The Fashion and Race Database, Tommy Hilfiger’s People’s Place Program and Pineapple Street Studios.

Brandice: One thing about people of color is that we are resilient and we’ll find our own way. And you don’t let us in through the front door, we will go through the back door, we’ll go through a window, we’ll go through a crack. Doesn’t matter. We’ll figure it out. But why do we always have to?! Why can’t the front door just be open?