This photo series was inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer, and the push to support Black-owned businesses. With this support came criticism from various angles. One of the opposing viewpoints that caught my attention was one surrounding Black consumerism and the manner in which Black people spend their money when it comes to clothing and other conspicuous elements of material culture. People argued that Black people tend to spend more on mainstream luxury brands like Gucci, Balenciaga, and Saint Laurent rather than investing in Black luxury and up and coming Black designers. This made me think about the current state of Blackness in fashion. There are more prominent Black designers and brands in the industry than ever before. Kerby-Jean Raymond, Telfar Clemens, Grace Wales Bonner, and more are making waves within fashion, pushing Blackness to the forefront. They are a portion of a new wave of fashion, a vanguard, if you will, for Black fashion. In this current landscape, the Black consumer has access to Black luxury and does not have to invest solely on Bottega Veneta and Louis Vuitton, but Kenneth Ize, Mowalola, and Martine Rose. I explored these thoughts through Black is the New Black, only having access to the limited closet I brought with me to New York for this virtual semester, and a few pieces I could shoot at home when I visited family on an odd weekend. It caused me to think about my consumption, the designers and brands that I have been fortunate enough to invest in and support, and the current state of Blackness in my own wardrobe.
Shot, styled, modeled, and directed by Simi Iluyomade. Assisted by Kenneth Leon. Black-owned brands and designers featured: Pyer Moss, Brandon Blackwood, Tia Adeola, Kai Collective, Ofuure, Grass-Fields, The K Label, Daily Paper, Amarachi.