black fashion week Black Fashion Week USA

Black Fashion Week Sets Trends

Friday, April 22, 2016 Avante Edmonds

"There needs to be more diversity in fashion." We have heard this chant increasingly. Melody Boykins, the creator of Black Fashion Week, is taking this issue into her own hands.

In the midst of fashion weeks around the world, there are usually complaints of all white models cast for runway shows or few designers of color being represented. Chicago is taking the reigns while showing the rest of the fashion world diversity etiquette. Black Fashion Week USA, hosted in Chicago, ended a fashion filled February. Designers from around the world and locally grown came together to make this possible. Formal wear was just as likely to be seen as streetwear influences. There was something for everyone. Whether you came to support up and coming designers or purchase an exclusive couture piece for your collection- this was a week long extravaganza was catered to everyone.

Yes, of course, multiple fashion shows were part of the mix but this fashion week also featured networking events for industry insiders, scholarship pageants, and mixers. The 2nd annual Black Fashion week USA "Business of Fashion" Panel Discussion gave invaluable information about how to truly thrive in the fashion industry as a person of color. Cliff Dwellers Club hosted this event. It was fronted by Shara Kamal a business/fashion attorney, Fred Sanders a celebrity makeup artist, Audrey Woodley a Business & Brand Development Coach, Yamaia an International Model & Designer, and Samuel Graham a Life Style Management Consultant. Touchy topics like "Why don't black people support each other" were handled with grace. Fred Sanders left a last impression with the audience after suggesting "Black people get out of the barrel" referencing the phrase "Crabs in a Barrel". Yamaia urged entrepreneurs to find joy in their work and never give up on their dreams despite inevitable adversity.

When the networking finished celebrations were done in the form of a runway show. Ramal Shine stunned the audience with a glamorous streetwear collection. Pastel sequin jackets added a feminine flair to the otherwise tough demeanor clothing. Ramal made sure menswear was not excluded from this fashion week. Several of his men's pieces were accented by luxurious fur. You can purchase this native Chicagoan's collection at Strut Boutique located at 7210 W. Madison in Forest Park, IL. The African roots of this fashion week made itself visible on the runway through BLKLST. BLKLST is created by Jazell Smith, a Chicago-based designer who makes women’s apparel. She studied fashion design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York and after years as a custom designer returned to Chicago and formed BLKLST. The clothes and accessories are all made locally on Chicago’s Southside by minority women.

That concept coincides with the goal of this fashion week - to empower black business ownership through a lens of the fashion industry. Some critics of Black Fashion Week USA have claimed this event was practicing the same exclusionary methods as the Eurocentric fashion weeks around the world. This could not be further from the truth. This event was created to provide fashion professionals an outlet to express them outside of the white-dominated industry. I believe that task was accomplished.

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