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In honor of Black History Month, we decided to launch an editorial initiative, Next Gen, to highlight creatives who are transforming the fashion industry. Our intention with this series is to delve deeper into the people who have and continue to shape every facet of the fashion industry.
Whether you're looking out of the fashion industry or out of the periphery, it's easy to focus on what's visibly inadequate: the lack of sized or unsized models on the runway, or the lightening of black celebrities on cover sheets. Don't get me wrong – this lack of visual representation is a critical task that needs to be addressed. However, if we are to address systemic racism in the industry, it is equally important to pay attention to what is going on behind the scenes. Our discourse on diversity in fashion often does not always include the men and women who have always shaped fashion: black stylists.
Black stylists shape the cultural zeitgeist; They style the Beyoncés of the world and create costumes for shows like
Unsure, advocate the "Bushwick Birkins" and create what is considered "fashionable" long before they are publicly recognized for it. Of course, some stylists have been able to build a public figure for themselves to compete with their A-list clientele, but that doesn't mean we have been able to address and overcome the inequalities black stylists face. Keep in mind that black stylists have had – and still do – problems in the past when trying to buy luxury clothes for customers. How is it that many are veterans in the industry but classified as "emerging talent" as if they weren't already out here to get the job done?
Optical tokenism must be expected for the industry to be truly inclusive. Not only do we have to give the few black stylists, the few plus-size models, the few Asian American designers, but also the BIPOC talents more microphone time, more praise and more money. There are so many incredible people of different races, gender orientations, religions, body types, socio-economic backgrounds and ages who have already sparked changes in the fashion industry. We have decided to dedicate this installment in ours
Next Generation Series to speak to stylists specifically for all of these reasons.
In advance, you will not only find out from eight black stylists what has to change in the industry, but also a little more about their work, their worldview and what fashion means to them on a personal level.
KJ Moody is a celebrity stylist with over nine years experience in the fashion industry. He studied fashion design at the Art Institute of Dallas and it was reality TV with stylists June Ambrose, Rachel Zoe and Brad Goreski that inspired him to get into the business. Since entering the industry, Moody has gone from Jeanette Chivvis to a freelance editorial and corporate stylist and became the creative manager and stylist for Parkwood Entertainment. If working with Beyoncé isn't inspiring enough, read on to find out more about Moody and his career. What does style mean to you? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? KM: Style means personal expression through clothing, hair, make-up and jewelry. I think identity (i.e. where you grew up and what you are comfortable with) is a big part of developing your style. Fashion can be shaped by culture; It can be regional, close to the coast and shaped by your neighborhood. We all have style preferences based on our comfort limits, even within the collective of "stylish". But for me, real style is confidence in setting your style parameters. Although a look or trend has been defined in one direction, someone with real style will make it their own. I love the Black Community because we have managed to continuously transform trauma into art. Style, beauty, and creation have forever been a tool of survival and reckoning. What role do you see art not only in the collective community but also in your own life? KM: Art is the great tool with which we were able to change and maintain ourselves in times of upheaval and unrest. While systemic racism held us down in the past, we still found ways to create something magical through the art of black living. We are now more aware of our culture, contributions, ethnic qualities, and special sparks that make us different. We have developed what makes us unique as a community. What others humiliated and humiliated us today is a sign of worth and honor. We are proud to be black once again! We no longer need others to validate ourselves or validate our talent. While our legacy of artistic ability belongs only to us and us, we can now choose when and how to share it with the world. So much zeitgeist – from style to beauty to colloquial language – comes from the Black Community. What do you think of appreciation and appropriation, especially when it comes to trends? KM: There is a fine line between appreciation (homage to) and appropriation (theft of pieces of culture that you do not understand). I think appreciation is always a good thing, but appropriation is never acceptable. Unless you're trying to educate in some way, it's never okay to use someone's culture as a trend or make a fashion statement because you feel like it. Anything that belittles original intentionality or makes something watered down and popular is never a good thing when it comes to race and culture. Where do you get inspiration from when it comes to styling a client or a shoot? KM: I love to be inspired by street style as well as my personal cultural experiences. While I focus on my clients and their needs, you can find a bit of Texas in everything I create. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? KM: Right now it's Michael Costello, Pyer Moss and Orange Couture. Fashion and beauty are forms of storytelling. The industry has long been telling stories of whiteness and Eurocentric beauty traits. What story do you hope to see in your work? KM: I would hope that my work tells the story of the beauty of "being different". Your unique differences and imperfections make you beautiful. To be you does not mean to be different because we are all different. It is authentic you where true beauty is found. Courtney Dion Mays is a stylist and branding advisor for menswear. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in art history. She didn't want to be a stylist first. In fact, she was trying to find her masters, trying to become a plus-size model, and working for Tracy Reese, the first African-American designer to be featured at New York Fashion Week. It wasn't until she started practicing for Rachel Johnson in 2006 that styling came into play for her. Working under Johnson for six years, Mays was able to meet clients (like LeBron James) and examine the convergence of style and sport. Today Mays owns her own styling business in Los Angeles. Read on for their take on the industry. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? CM: Style is the way we express ourselves to the world before we open our mouths. It's storytelling and it can be political. We give messages about our identity through style. Fashion enables us to give clues about our feelings about sustainability (which fabrics we choose), our connection to social and political issues, our perception of our body, what we do for a living, etc. Unfortunately our style is sometimes an illusion of that identity, but my hope is that through my work I can help men use style as an authentic window to find out who they are on a personal level. In recent years, fashion has anticipated systemic racism. How can the industry as a whole move past a performative ally? CM: That's the goal, isn't it? That's how long the fashion industry took advantage of black culture without celebrating the creatives who create the culture. I am optimistic. Hopefully this alliance is not performative and we keep the same energy. Make a habit of raising black creatives and normalizing black creatives in space. This normalcy will prove that this moment is not an achievement. How do you think the call to action for diversity can be fulfilled in your part of the industry? CM: It was a challenge to get my clients in line with luxury brands, even if they continuously support them. White celebrities and athletes are often overwhelmed with products from brands that hope they will wear pieces from their collections. At the same time, we often fight tirelessly for partnerships or recognition. Black athletes do not receive the same privileges as their peers. Men don't care what tuxedo wears on the red carpet, but I guarantee a large number of men watch basketball every week. The tunnel walk has become an important part of this play experience. What an opportunity to influence your consumer. Why shouldn't a brand want to use this moment to appeal to its consumers? I do not get it. Instead of waiting to be recognized or approached by a community that doesn't celebrate the blackness, we elevate our creatives. We carry brands from our own people and buy them! Circulate the dollar in our community and use this tunnel path as a moment to introduce these brands to the people who may then become customers. Where do you get inspiration from when it comes to styling a client or a shoot? CM: I am inspired by music, especially jazz (my father is a trumpeter), art, old photos and mixed media works. What is so fascinating about all of these different art media is that they celebrate black people with all their luxuries. I find that empowering. I also orient myself by the rooms, colors, music, works of art, families and everything they love. My goal is to reinforce her authentic personal sense of style, not a costume I create for her. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? CM: Just because my clients make millions on the pitch / field / ice cream (insert all sports) doesn't mean they have to spend all of their money getting dressed. That's why I like to design them in Romeo Hunte, Fear of God, Aime Leon Dore, Todd Patrick and brands like Todd Snyder, Norse Project, Levi & # 39; s and COS. What advice would you give to an aspiring black creative looking to get into the fashion industry? CM: My advice is to keep learning from those who came before you. Ask for mentoring. Don't let the illusion of social media confuse you. This world looks much more glamorous than it is. Be willing to work very hard. Think outside the box and never let the injustices of the industry stop you from moving forward. Mickey Boooom Freeman is a fashion stylist. For the Philadelphia born and raised creative, he can't remember when he hasn't styled and considers himself his first client. "Fashion was the wind I needed under my wings to let my imagination run wild," he said. And he has increased. Since his first editorial shoot with top model Terence Telle for GQ Portugal, which was shot by photographer Djimi Williams, he has been able to work with clients such as Keke Palmer and Peyton List. He's styled some of our favorite stars and cover shoots for quite some time. Read on to learn more about what makes Freeman so unique. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? MF: Style is an expansion of your own mind that is taking place. Fashion is only political if you do it that way. Identity should be the framework, but not necessarily the uniqueness that holds you back from evolution. How can the industry achieve diversity while also avoiding tokenism? What would true inclusivity look like in your eyes? . MF: I believe that we are all in dialogue with one another as designers and brands on a cultural level. To leave tokenism behind, this dialogue needs to be transparent to celebrate the beauty of diversity that emanates from an informed and respectful place. I believe that creatives from all walks of life should be aware that the content they use to create is a system of give and take. To find ways to be inspired by a culture, designers and other creatives should find ways to give back to it, or at least inform their audience of its history and plight. Fashion and beauty are their forms of storytelling. The industry has long been telling stories of whiteness and Eurocentric beauty traits. What story do you hope to see in your work? . MF: I pray every day that my creative story will speak of how amazingly diverse and multidimensional our people are. I hope my journey is a piece in the mosaic that defines the beauty and creativity that we bring to the world. Where do you get inspiration from when it comes to styling a client or a shoot? MF: Inspiration can be derived directly from what exactly defines that person or the exact opposite. My ideal situation is when both elements can be juxtaposed to create something that has never been seen before in relation to the client and to be photographed. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? MF: Some of my favorite brands would be Christian Dior, Hakan Akkaya, Sukeina, Jovana Louis, Ruthie Davis, the Blondes, John Galliano, Christian Siriano and my namesake brand FreeMen by Mickey. In the future, I look forward to using Pyer Moss, Iris Van Herpen, Christopher John Rogers, Parts of 4, and Schiaparelli to name a few. What advice would you give an aspiring black creative looking to get into the fashion industry? MF: Do the work. Learn as much as you can by interning, supporting, working together, and seeking mentoring. Although I missed the opportunity to help or mentor a stylist, I was fortunate enough to practice for fashion designer Anna Sui. Listen to your stomach too! Always remember that you are a vessel. In this way, you will remain humble forever. In addition to improving your skills, hard work, humility, and faith are essential. Danasia Sutton is a Los Angeles-based celebrity and editorial fashion stylist. Sutton's styling career began almost five years ago when she was working at VFiles in Soho, NYC. She met incredible people, which eventually led her to become a freelance stylist. Since opening, Sutton has made serious strides in working with Nike and Gap, as well as clients such as Kehlani, Ciara and Jameela Jamil. In front of you, you will hear from the style wizard himself. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? DS: For me, style is your individualism, which sets you apart from everyone else. I think identity plays a crucial role in shaping style within the collective, and as an individual you have to be able to think for yourself and think for others around you. In recent years, fashion has anticipated systemic racism. How can the industry as a whole move past a performative ally? How can the industry achieve diversity while also avoiding tokenism? What would true inclusivity look like in your eyes? DS: I think the industry as a whole can defy performative allies by not just using well-known black creatives. You should dig a little deeper and research to discover the talent that goes unnoticed. You don't see too many non-black artists, actresses, or actors working with black stylists. If they work with them, it is someone who is already in significant status. This is where they need to research who the following new hot creatives are to avoid this tokenism. There is so much talent out there that you can't limit yourself to the small pool that you choose from. True inclusivity looks like using new creatives and paying the same price a non-black person would get for the same job. So much zeitgeist – from style to beauty to colloquial language – comes from the Black Community. What do you think of appreciation and appropriation, especially when it comes to trends? DS: I don't see any appreciation in many of the things that are meant. It is accepted if a non-black person does it, but if we do it is considered a "ghetto". Almost as a kind of mockery, as if we were understood as a kind of joke. Even with the collective settlement last year, it's still seen as such and it's sad. In my eyes everything is viewed as appropriation until they can see the source in a positive light. We don't get the credit we deserve. I love the Black Community because we have managed to continuously transform trauma into art. Style, beauty, and creation have forever been a tool of survival and reckoning. What role do you see art not only in the collective community but also in your own life? DS: I see art in my daily life, I have to face this world that doesn't want me to exist at all, and that's exactly what I'm doing – living in my blackness with no excuses. I wear what I want to wear, get spiced up as I see fit for the day, and put my hair in styles that honor who I am. I am art; we are all art; The world is our gallery. They are always watching. Where do you get inspiration from when it comes to styling a client or a shoot? DS: Most of my inspiration comes from excellence. I try to turn every situation into a luxury experience – it doesn't matter if it's an editorial, an album cover or a music video. Luxury doesn't always mean diamonds and pearls. I draw energy from the client / shoot and translate as I see fit. I hope my work tells a story of excellence, dreamy realities and the elevation of style within our own culture. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? DS: Some of my favorite brands that my clients style are Phlemuns, No Sesso, Des Pierrot and Mowalola. I love everything about these brands and their fresh mindset when it comes to their designs. They are all black owned and, in my opinion, top notch. Dex Robinson is a prominent athlete stylist and brand manager with over ten years of experience in the industry. Before starting to style some of our favorite famous men, he worked in fashion public relations and worked in-house for brands across ecommerce, lookbooks, and even NYFW shows. He has since maintained a client list that includes Yahya Abdul-Mateen II, Quincy Combs, and Dave East. In advance you will hear what style means to Robinson and what advice he gives on how to get started in the industry. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? DR: For me, style is the expression of every emotion or message that you want to convey through fashion at this moment. It's more than just putting clothes together, but it's the way you wear them and the confidence you show when you are in them. I also think that fashion can and should be political in the current social climate. Be intentional about who you support and do your research. In recent years, fashion has anticipated systemic racism. How can the industry as a whole move past a performative ally? DR: By starting to employ more people of color in higher positions with the intention of getting them to speak up for us before any insincere content is created. So much zeitgeist – from style to beauty to colloquial language – comes from the Black Community. What do you think of appreciation and appropriation, especially when it comes to trends? DR: One of the most effective ways to understand and appreciate another culture is to listen to those who are part of the fabric of that group. Make a conscious effort to recognize and appreciate cultural influences in the things you admire and use. And ultimately, pretty much compensate if need be when you are benefiting financially from something you are using. Fashion and beauty are their forms of storytelling – the industry has long been telling stories that focus on white and Eurocentric beauty traits. What story do you hope to see in your work? . DR: Ultimately, I hope that my work will appeal to different people from different backgrounds and socio-economic status. The goal is for people to connect with my work in a way that inspires them to do more fashion and appreciate it, even if that's not necessarily their style. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? DR: Some of my favorite brands to style my clients would be Pyer Moss, Fear of God and A-Cold-Wall. What advice would you give to an aspiring black creative looking to get into the fashion industry? DR: Be persistent and resourceful. If you want to do something fashionable, it won't be an easy journey, just keep the course. Also, use your resources and network. When you know people in the spaces you want to be in, connect with them, ask questions, and build. Ade Samuel has been in the fashion industry for over a decade. She studied at the State University of New York College in Buffalo State, as well as at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and did an editorial internship. But it wasn't until 2016 that Samuel turned to styling. Since then she has made a name for herself and a client list that includes Justine Skye, Michael B. Jordan, and Letitia Wright, to name a few. Get to know Samuel a little more by scrolling down. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? AS: Style is an expression of freedom and a way to celebrate and set free your heart and your inner artist through clothing. I do not believe that all fashion is political and rarely associates fashion and politics (personally) when discussing style except when discussing specific references from public figures who happen to be in politics. Women like Jackie Kennedy, Princess Diana and Michelle Obama were so refreshing to see these public spaces. Your appearance will always be unforgettable, especially in politics and fashion. How do you think the call to action for diversity can be fulfilled in your part of the industry? How can the industry achieve diversity while also avoiding tokenism? What would true inclusivity look like in your eyes? . AS: The more opportunities black creatives are offered to create organically and authentically, the more authentic the inclusivity becomes. It's important for industry goalkeepers to remember that there is more than one person – this is tokenism. In my opinion, true inclusivity is a standard that should be just that: the standard. I hope the industry continues to develop as a collective community that creates art and beauty that reflect the talent and skills of black creative culture. I love the Black Community because we have managed to continuously transform trauma into art. Style, beauty, and creation have forever been a tool of survival and reckoning. What role do you see art not only in the collective community but also in your own life? AS: Art is an escape. I often use my work to achieve all of my visual fashion ideas. I dream it and then I want to see it come true. I think that's what's happening in the diaspora right now too, and it's accelerating to bring fine art to fashion and beauty to life, especially in the black creative community. Can you share some of your favorite brands with us to style your customers in? Where do you get inspiration from when it comes to styling a client or a shoot? I love so many designers because I am constantly inspired by the emerging and established houses. My favorite experience as a stylist is seeing clothes in motion. A perfectly executed piece of clothing pleases my eye and inspires me immediately. That feeling is exactly why I find it difficult to have favorites. During my career I have been inspired to style my clients in Pyer Moss, Chanel, Daily Newspaper, Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Issey Miyake, Valentino, Versace, Telfar, Prada, Tokyo James, Orange Culture, Tongoro, Off-White, Todd Patrick , Landlord and sacai. I love the evolving ethos of these brands. What advice would you give an aspiring black creative looking to get into the fashion industry? My advice to aspiring creatives is to really believe in your entire artistic being. I encourage black creatives to believe in what they want to create and get out there, do hard work and live in the emotions that come to life. I firmly believe that times have changed and that information is easily accessible today in the digital age. If you become a student of your passion and try to overcome the doubts and fears entrenched in the generation of our culture, you can break into any industry you desire. The best things in life come in pairs, and that certainly goes for celebrity stylists Wayman and Michah. Both started their styling careers in 2013 and came fresh from the fashion industry in New York. Micah was in merchandising and Wayman was a fashion assistant at GQ. They met through mutual friends and began to realize through conversations and vision boards that they had a common vision of the type of clients and the styling they wanted to do and so it was history. That's just the beginning of the story, of course – these men have so much more to offer than meets the eye. Read on to learn more about what makes this duo so dynamic. What does style mean to you? Would you agree or disagree with the idea that all fashion is political? And what role do you think identity plays in shaping style, both within the collective and as an individual? W + M: Fashion is inherently political because style represents itself, and aren't we all political in some way? Style can be used to fit into a collective or to stand out as an individual. Depending on a person's own identity, they may use fashion to adapt or deviate from the norm. In recent years, fashion has anticipated systemic racism. How can the industry as a whole move past a performative ally? W + M: Action. It's not just about flagging something that's unjust – that's the easy part. We need to identify the root cause of injustice and correct the position we are in now. In order for fashion to stand out from its performative ally, the industry must acknowledge its responsibility and take responsibility. How do you think the call to action for diversity can be fulfilled in your part of the industry? How can the industry achieve diversity but also avoid tokenism? What would true inclusivity look like in your eyes? . W + M: The key is consistency. We need to highlight the talent of the BIPOC designers and work with brands that focused on these topics long before they spread. By lifting each other up as a collective, we can avoid being exploited. As a collective with as many BIPOC employees as possible, we can prevent tokenism in the fashion industry. We believe the goal post is constantly on the move for true inclusivity. As long as there is room for improvement, the key is to keep the conversation going and try to be as forward-thinking as possible. So much zeitgeist – from style to beauty to colloquial language – comes from the Black Community. What do you think of appreciation and appropriation, especially when it comes to trends? W + M: Wertschätzung bringt Bewusstsein in andere Kulturen, während Aneignung andere Kulturen zum persönlichen Vorteil nutzt. Wenn Sie einen Druck oder eine Basis eines Designs aus einer anderen Kultur entnehmen möchten, ist es wichtig, seine Herkunft zu erkennen. Dies könnte durch die Einbeziehung von Handwerkern aus dieser spezifischen Kultur in den Herstellungsprozess geschehen. Wir glauben, dass es ein konsequentes und ehrliches Gespräch darüber geben sollte, wo Inspiration aus der Vermeidung von Ausbeutung resultiert. Woher nimmst du Inspiration, wenn es darum geht, einen Kunden oder ein Shooting zu stylen? W + M: Wir haben bereits ein Gefühl für den inneren / persönlichen Stil jedes Kunden, den wir immer hervorheben möchten. Farben und Paletten sind immer noch eine gute Grundlage, und dann geht es darum, sicherzustellen, dass sich der Kunde durch die Silhouette und das Gefühl oder die Textur des Stoffes besonders fühlt. Vor allem wollen wir nie ändern, wer unsere Kunden sind. Wir konzentrieren uns darauf, ihre wahre Identität in den Vordergrund zu rücken. Können Sie uns einige Ihrer Lieblingsmarken mitteilen, in denen Sie Ihre Kunden stylen können? W + M: Wir haben fantastische BIPOC-Designer wie Jason Wu und wegweisende schwarze Designer wie Christopher John Rogers, Kerby Jean-Raymond von Pyer Moss und Jason Rembert von Aliette. Für unsere Kunden und uns ist es auch immer wichtig, aufstrebenden kleinen Marken wie Renaissance Renaissance, Kiko Kostadinov, Estelle Zou und Maxrieny von Sara Wong Plattformen zu bieten – alle vier, die Tessa Thompson während ihrer Pressetour zu Sylvie's Love trug. Prada und Gucci haben uns auch immer unglaublich unterstützt. Ich liebe die Black Community, weil wir es geschafft haben, Traumata kontinuierlich in Kunst umzuwandeln. Stil, Schönheit und Kreation waren für immer ein Werkzeug zum Überleben und zur Abrechnung. Welche Rolle sehen Sie Kunst nicht nur in der kollektiven Gemeinschaft, sondern auch in Ihrem eigenen Leben? W + M: Kunst ist eines unserer mächtigsten Mittel, um das Selbstbewusstsein sowohl auf individueller Ebene als auch in der Öffentlichkeit zu fördern. In größerem Maßstab kann Kunst die Erfahrungen und Werte des Einzelnen in Form von Mode zusammenführen. Wir wurden durch gegenseitige Ansichten zusammengebracht, die uns dabei halfen zu erkennen, wo wir in unserem Kollektiv existierten und vor allem wo wir existieren wollten. Next: These 5 black designers paint the future of fashion