The Islamic Tartan Concept weaves together the different strands of Scottish and Muslim heritage creating the fabric of the future.
The theological explanation of the design is as follows:
– Blue to represent the Scottish Flag
– Green to represent the colour of Islam
– Five white lines running through the pattern to represent the five pillars of Islam
– Six gold lines to represent the six articles of faith
– Black square to represent the Holy Kabah
Last year, I said I wanted to showcase more Black content, particularly creative endeavours and projects that deserve all the spotlights and this is the perfect example of that.
Khula is a jewellery brand by Sophia Tassew, a plus-size content creator from South East London. You may recognise her name from an earlier blog post I wrote about A Quick Ting On—she’ll be releasing a book about her experiences in 2022. In an interview with Bricks Magazine, she called Khula “a sort of homage to my parents who come from Ethiopia and South Africa.”
I’ve always wanted to have my own earring collection or design something. I always thought it would come in the form of a brand collaboration but it didn’t and still hasn’t so I decided to start it myself and learn how to make earrings. Also, as a plus sized girl, growing up, my fashion and style journey was tedious. You were forced to shop for clothes that were meant for people three times your age or the mens section. The only thing I could always rely on were earrings. They’ve been my savouir (sic) many times as well as a small representation of who I am and where I come from. So much growth has happened between then and now and that’s exactly what Khula means in Zulu, grow.
Sophia runs Khula completely on her own, working very long nights and making her vast collection of earrings by hand, as well as packing and posting the products herself. It’s the epitome of a one-woman team.
I especially love the late 60s/70s vibe from the designs, which she said inspired her alongside her roots from East Africa and South Africa:
Taking inspiration from my heritage and putting that into my brand makes me feel so much closer to my roots in a way that I know how, and a language that I understand which is jewellery. I’m very interested in Black people from different eras and celebrating them and their looks.
Truly great gowns, beautiful gowns from Chiso, a traditional Japanese textile producer in Kyoto, Japan.
When Yozaemon Chikiriya established his garment business, Chiso, in Kyoto, his primary customers were monks who required fine clerical vestments. That was 1555. More than four centuries later, the company’s intricately cut robes are coveted as luxury garments, and Chiso—having persevered through shrinking economies, shifting trends, wars, and more—has found itself among the last of Japan’s bespoke kimono houses.
I had the opportunity to have a Zoom meeting with Angela Davis. It was amazing. Talking to her is like talking to fairy godmother; this icon—she’s a feminist, philanthropist, scholar, the total representation of culture. For her to wear my t-shirt and send me a picture just shows how powerful the t-shirt was but just also how the messaging is effective.
Angela Davis appears in her own exclusive Renowned line alongside the likes of Huey Newton and Kathleen Cleaver.
Stream the interview below.
According to a 1983 People magazine article, Smith’s brand employed 85 people and shipped its men’s and women’s lines—WilliWear is credited as the first brand to encompass both under one label—to more than 1,000 department stores nationwide. A year later, the company was grossing some $25 million annually (over $55 million when adjusted to today’s figures) and embarked on the first artistic collaboration of its kind with the likes of Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger and Keith Haring creating widely accessible designs. And yet for many who weren’t alive at the time of Smith’s massive success, his name was a mystery before 2020.
The Black Lives Matter protests this summer reinforced my relationship with my Blackness and the Black people around me. I’ve had the pleasure of connecting with Josh Akapo on Twitter and thought I’d pay it forward with a post on his creative agency.
archtype is a creative agency that started in 2016 as a clothing company for young people (the site notes that they were known as “ARCHTYPE” and a “louder set-up back then”) before becoming an agency in January 2020.
The three founders are:
- Jaydon (Co-founder and Creative Director)
- Josh (Co-founder and Head of Accounts)
- Thomas-James (Co-founder and Head of Finance & Merchandising)
For archtype, it’s all about “creating impactful moments in culture” which is something I can happily endorse. They do this by providing merchandising strategy, design, production, and garment finishing amongst other services.
Proper Gnar is a woman-owned skateboarding and streetwear brand, created by Latosha Stone. She set out to draw her own designs not only for clothes and skateboards but as standalone art.
Talking to Skateism, she talked about sizing and the struggles she has faced when trying to get clothes in plus sizes:
The size thing is something that really bothers me as well. And it’s an issue with the apparel industry as a whole. I’d love to carry all sizes but it’s almost impossible to find suppliers that go past a 3X, sometimes 5X on tee’s, and on crop tops I haven’t found larger than an XL. I always feel so bad when someone asks if I carry their size and I can’t because my suppliers don’t.
And her views on a connection between skateboarding and “femme power”:
I don’t think there’s a direct connection, I’m just a feminist in general. And I just feel like there’s something badass and powerful about taking something and putting your own twist on it, making it your own.
Every year, Pantone Color Institute releases its colour trends report and the fashion world clambers to follow it. But with all trends, they’re fleeting. People spend billions on clothes and dispose of them within months, only for those colours to return in future years.
Elizabeth Sergan wrote “Our obsession with ‘color trends’ is killing the planet” for Fast Company back in February to illustrate how harmful these colour trends can be.
Companies from H&M to Target have figured out how to manufacture the latest styles quickly and cheaply, making them accessible to a broader range of consumers—but also adding to the waste problem.
All of this has sent us into a state of massive overconsumption. Most of us have about 150 items in our closet. The number of times we wear each item before throwing it out has gone down by 36% since 2000, and many of us only wear an item seven to 10 times before it goes in the trash. And all of this waste is clogging up our landfills and oceans, and spewing vast amounts of greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, accelerating climate change.
If you’re not into fast fashion, maybe you’d consider clothes made by fish leather (providing it doesn’t contribute to overfishing).
The twenty-nine-year-old London-based designer—a slight woman with enormous intellectual and artistic ambitions—draws from the creative and thus political minds of the modern African diaspora, not only to inform her art but to reveal how style has grown out of the diaspora itself, linking together our fragmented worlds in ways that others may not have noticed, but that we have. Equally at home with Aimé Césaire and Léopold Sédar Senghor’s theories about Negritude as she is with the history of Christian Dior—last April, she worked with the fabled house to reinterpret its New Look—Wales Bonner has been sui generis from the start, in part because, unlike many other designers, she doesn’t reference the past to service trend; in her work, she aims to make the broken history of the Black artist and intellectual in African, European, and American culture whole.
For more about Grace Wales Bonner, check out this interview she did with The Gentlewoman.
Does your sock drawer lack panache? Cachet? Any other superfluous French word to describe taste? Then you need a pair that stands outs amongst your black and white socks and, ironically, a pair of Venom socks has both with hints of blue, red, and pink.
Okay, cheesy sales pitch over. These Venom socks are cool AF and, according to the Amazon listing, doesn’t require batteries which is what you want in a pair of cotton socks. They’re also safer than wearing a symbiote suit and becoming a homicidal anti-heroish alien-human hybrid monster. But if you were one already, wouldn’t a cosy pair of socks be the best thing ever?
And if you don’t believe me, check out some of the reviews:
Great print, great quality. These socks are soft, warm, have cushion, and a great classic tv version of Venom from the 90’! They are a bit tight at the first and the second times, but become more comfortable over the time. After 3-4 uses, they are now perfect and so comfortable! Love the print, love the quality. Worth the price!
I bought these for my 8 year old son and he loves them… I’m sure these where ment for a man but my son used them for crazy sock day and they fit comfortable
It looks like some brands have stopped “seeing us” if they ever did to begin with. Luxury fashion brand Marni apologised for its “Jungle Mood” campaign shoot that portrayed racist imagery of Black models in chains and in tribal regalia.
The Italian brand took to Instagram to launch the campaign with images including a Black man with what appeared to be shackles on his feet, Praia flip flops “powerful and shining like a tribal amulet” and “barefoot in the jungle”. A flurry of comments condemned the depictions and terminology, including blogger and model Natasha Ndlovu:
“Corona hasn’t even finished its world tour and Italian brands are at it again. And this whole ‘jungle mood’ terminology is so stereotypical jee zus ! Isn’t there a fashion panel that should approve images for brand campaigns? As a content creator brands are up my *ss doing approvals before I post content so why can’t an image that will be on billboards worldwide have the same background check?”
But besides the shackles and “tribal amulets”, there’s a lot of cultural appropriation at play. Diet Prada called out Marni’s new campaign with its “smorgasbord of ethnic accessories like Bayong wood necklaces from the Philippines, Caribbean woven grass hats, and other non-descript wooden jewelry (none of which are Marni)”. Oh, and Marni actually deleted the image of the Black man in shackles.
There’s also the question of the photographer, Edgar Azevedo, who is Afro-Brazilian. Was there a message amongst the sloppy copy or was it a promotion of racist stereotypes and appropriative garments? My issue with a lot of fashion brands and their campaigns is their intent is ambiguous, but their impact is harmful. I can’t imagine a better outlook for this campaign than what we’ve seen and I don’t see how it was appropriate for the times we’re in. The products don’t even look that nice and they’re the background props for whatever this campaign was supposed to be.
The two MJ’s – Michael Jackson and Michael Jordan – may have joined forces in the video for Jam but they were in competition when it came to sneakers in the late 80s.
the detail., a dedicated Michael Jackson channel, made a video discussing the King of Pop’s involvement with LA Gear and how it competed with Nike before its demise and eventual bankruptcy in 1998.
What is LA Gear?
LA Gear is a US shoe company founded in 1983. Focusing predominately on sneakers, the company had a long string of influential athletes endorsing their shoes, including:
- Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
- Karl Malone
- Hakeem Olajuwon
- Wayne Gretzky
- Joe Montana
But the endorsements stretched further than sports.
Singer Belinda Carlisle appeared in print ads for LA Gear and, of course, Michael Jackson, who had his own shoe: the Billie Jean, released in 1990.
Michael’s endorsement was with $20m and billed “the largest and priciest corporate endorsement deal in showbiz history”. LA Gear saw Jackson as the best person to compete with Jordan and his “Air Jordan” line with Nike.
To target the younger demographic and kids going back to school, the company launched the Billie Jean sneaker in August 1990. Jackson also appeared in a TV commercial promoting them, at a cost of $700k for 30 seconds.
But this wasn’t enough to keep LA Gear from its steady decline.
Retailers immediately reported abysmal sales. Some department stores struggled to sell even a few pairs and were quickly discounted as a way to shift stock. Parents complained about the style, refusing to buy the impractical fashion-oriented sneakers. Many concerned that the studded and buckle-laden design would make their kids look like junior Hells Angels in them.Quote from the detail.’s video
LA Geared for court?
While parents feared their children would look like mini bikers, the poor sales could have been related to Michael Jackson’s low profile at the time. The slated Greatest Hits he was working on was scrapped (before returning in a different form in 1995) and, instead, he released Dangerous in 1991. This was a particularly thorny point for LA Gear as he had suggested wearing their sneakers in music videos during that period but it never came to be.
LA Gear eventually pursued legal action in a $46m lawsuit, alleging fraud and breach of contract, claiming Jackson had “missed deadlines to deliver footage that could have been used in shoe commercials and had not released the album that was involved in the contract”. Michael filed a $44m countersuit but the stalemate led to an out-of-court settlement.
As LA Gear continues its decline in the 90s, Nike grew from strength to strength. Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan line launched in 1984 and a slew of version came out throughout the 80s and 90s, with Jordan wearing each iteration for every season in the NBA and the Olympics in 1992.
In contrast, LA Gear filed for bankruptcy in 1998 but have made comebacks since then and the company’s products remain a part of retro culture. In 2019, Skechers sold a line of shoes branded “LA Gear X Skechers”. And who founded Skechers? None other than Robert Greenberg, founder of LA Gear.
Can you still buy LA Gear gear?
Absolutely. The brand doesn’t have the same appeal as it did at its peak and doesn’t have any endorsements on the same level of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar or Michael Jackson but the sneakers still retain their retro charm.
Representation of Black culture in art and fashion is important considering the predominately white landscape. With that in mind, outlets like Social Theory are perfect for promoting the culture and the facets of identity within it.
What is Social Theory?
Social Theory is an online apparel store based in Atlanta that “promotes pride in Black identity and Black culture”. It’s best known for its “Influential” collection with a range of hoodies, sweatshirts and t-shirts for all genders and ages.
Other ranges include:
- BBW (Brilliant. Black. Women)
- Black King and Black Queen
- Black First
- By Any Means
- Loving Black Women
- Melanin Princess
- Pretty Brown Girl
Check out the website for the full range of collections (my personal favourite is the Black Culture Influences Everything hoodie).
Social Theory also offers free shipping and sizes from small to 3XL in a variety of fits and fabrics.
The Blak Blog
Alongside that, Social Theory also has a blog that covers all things Black culture and empowerment.
Don’t let their discomfort stop your greatness.A quote from ‘Why Can’t We…’
My two favourite pieces
There’s a lot for everyone on the site but my two favourites are:
1. Black+Proud Crewneck Sweatshirt
Available in black, red, gold, pine green, dark green, and orange, this unisex classic fit sweatshirt is minimal in its design but power in its message.