The New York Times recently published a great article, “Pushing the Boundaries of Black Style,” about a number of cool, new clothing stores opened by young African-American men. So what’s their style? As the article states: “This generation emphasizes the basics: great fabrics, aggressive tailoring, thoughtful accessorizing. It’s a return to style as a source of dignity, a theme that has run through generations of black American style, from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights era to the mixed messages of the hip-hop era.”
But there’s no ONE style. Gone is the hegemony of the hip-hop look or extreme dandyism. Instead there’s a range of style being embraced. “There’s more than one cool now for black people,” says Travis Gumbs, co-principal of Street Etiquette, a style blog. “When we were growing up, it was just one kind of cool.”
Unlike so many of my Caucasian male friends who dress like they just got out of bed, African-American men don’t eschew fashion and style. And they don’t associate it with frivolity or femininity like so many white guys. Instead clothing is, and has been for decades as the above quote reflects, a strong symbol of political expression, self-confidence and freedom. And, if it makes you look hot, even better!
I hope my non-black male friends would take some more cues from their African-American neighbors and kick their wardrobes up a notch. I’m not saying they need to be so deliberate about their fashions and view them as political statements, but at least they can tuck in their shirts!
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