After the murder of George Floyd, there was a reckoning. Centuries of anger boiled over into protests, statues being taken down, police forces changing their policies, and companies having no choice but to take a stand. Within all of this change, there has also been a wave of information being shared. Specifically, how non-Black people can practice allyship, unveiling how systemic racism has slithered its way into every part of this nation, and of course the contributions Black people have made to this country over time. 

One question that has been circulating online is, how can you enjoy Black culture but not stand up for Black people? It’s a valid inquiry. Black culture is embedded in the United States soil. It can be seen in art, music, and most visibly in fashion. Yet, the world tends to “forget” the trends Black people have created in these areas.

One question that has been circulating online is, how can you enjoy Black culture but not stand up for Black people?

It is significant to know the origins of a trend because more often than not trends started by Black people are taken and credit is not given where it is due. Instead, popular culture reproduces it, whitewashes it, and sells it as if it’s something brand new. 

Here are a few fashion trends that became popular because of the Black community.

1. Bucket Hat

Singer Rihanna wears a bucket hat.
[Image Description: Singer Rihanna wears a bucket hat.] Via Alex Whitehouse on Pinterest.
The bucket hat has been a staple of popular culture for some time now. Google Run DMC and you’ll see the trio sporting bucket hats around New York City in the 80s. The bucket hat itself was first called a fishing hat, as it was used by Irish fisherman as protection from the rain, then by the 1960s bucket hats were being worn in the states. American rappers made bucket hats trendy by wearing them on the street, in music videos, and on album covers. Think about LL Cool J at the beginning of his career, a bucket hat and tracksuit were his M.O. In recent years the bucket hat has made a “resurgence”, but instead of it being acknowledged as a trend that rappers started it became the “it” accessory that every fashion boy and girl should have. Bloggers wore them to fashion shows, models wore them off-duty, even stores like Brandy Melville began to sell them. Most people purchased them to look cool without knowing who actually made them cool.

2. Tracksuits

A model poses in a velour Baby Phat tracksuit.
[Image Description: A model poses in a velour Baby Phat tracksuit.] Via Courtney Sanchez on Pinterest.
Tracksuits have been a defining piece of people’s wardrobes for years. Athletes wear them, your favorite mean girl had them on in movies, and celebrities wear them while out and about. They’re the perfect piece of fashion that’s comfortable yet stylish. In the rap world tracksuits were a street style staple, designers like Kimora Lee Simmons created an empire by selling velour tracksuits through Baby Phat, and Dapper Dan customized tracksuits by printing logos of large fashion houses overtop tracksuit jackets. The tracksuit is a coveted item because the Black community made it so, yet not a lot of people acknowledge this. 

3. Baggy Jeans

Singer Aaliyah wears a crop top and baggy jeans.
[Image Description: Singer Aaliyah wears a crop top and baggy jeans.] Via mar on Pinterest.
Love it or hate it the baggy jean trend has continually shown it’s here to stay. This fashion trend has political undertones because it stemmed from the style of pants prisoners wear, but once it was adopted by rappers, the baggy jean trend became representative of style and swag. It is not surprising that most popular fashion trends, such as baggy jeans, become popular through Black people in the music industry. Rappers and singers tend to rock certain styles that find themselves in the mainstream. Although the baggy jean can be seen as controversial or inappropriate depending on just how low someone might be sagging their pants, the trend has not died. In current times baggy jeans can be seen on models like Bella Hadid, who styles them with crop tops and bralettes, and when she wears them they go from an item that was seen as “ghetto” to a piece of clothing everyone wants in their closet.

4. Sneaker Culture

A wall of sneaker sits in the store Flight Club.
[Image Description: A wall of sneaker sits in the store Flight Club.] Via Rae on Pinterest.
Sneakercon and the store Flight Club are institutions beloved by sneakerheads across the world. The sneaker craze truly only became a craze because people in the Black community showed that sneakers could be more than an item worn while playing sports. Sneakers could be inventive, stylish, and the defining piece of an outfit. They were particularly popular among Black youth in the 70s and 80s. Now, sneakers are a large part of pop culture and a person’s shoe collection can speak volumes. 


5. Hoop Earrings

hoops
[Image Description: A woman models hair clips and hoop earrings.] Via NubianQueen on Pinterest.
Let’s talk about accessories. For women across the globe, a good hoop earring can make or break an outfit. Hoops themselves have ancient origins, dating all the way back to 2500 B.C. They started to become integrated into popular culture once they became a part of streetwear and the Black power movement. Think large afros, black jackets, and gold hoops. That’s truly a look and it was sported by everyone from singers to activists to working women. Hoops have continued to be a staple accessory, although most people are no longer chanting Black power while wearing them.

As you walk around in your favorite bucket hat or pair of baggy jeans think about how that accessory or piece of clothing became interwoven into the fabric of pop culture. Don’t let Black culture continue to be erased.


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Carol Wright

By Carol Wright

Editorial Fellow