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beauty is pop culture // sex rules the world 

  • Wanique Block

On The Erasure of Black and Brown Women In Streetwear Culture.

Why streetwear brands are facing criticism for excluding dark-skinned Black Women?


Earlier this year lifestyle and street wear brand Aime Leon Dore released their new London campaign look book titled, The World’s Borough. The look book candidly pays homage to the city of London and shines light on community.

In the shoot, families, friends and solo travellers alike are seen posing while waiting at a bus stop. While many applauded Aime Leon Dore for highlighting the true essence of London, some have criticised the brand for excluding dark skinned Black women from the campaign.

British Digital creator Jade Macpepple-Jaja took to TikTok to point out how Aime Leon Dore missed the mark with their London The World’s Borough campaign. Jade specifically pointed out how the street wear brand failed to include at least one dark skinned Black woman. 

“I really struggle with some of these campaigns, because I love the fact that there are so many Black boys included. Especially with men, they tend to be very diverse with these campaigns. And when I swiped through all the images of the women, there was not one darker skinned Black woman”, Jade added.

Despite being an avid fan of the street wear and lifestyle brand, Jade continued to express her disappointment.

“And I love ALD (Aime Leon Dore), I love their stuff. I love the brand. I think some of their campaigns are amazing and they do include other Black women in their campaigns. [however] A campaign to do with London, I just really struggled with the fact that there was not one darker skinned black woman included, in a campaign about London, a city that has so much riches when it comes to fashion, and so many Black women who are amazing in the creative and fashion space. Every woman who was in the campaign was either really light skinned or white or racially ambiguous. Not one dark skinned Black woman in a campaign about London. I find that so so wild, because they did find the talent for men in terms of dark skinned Black boys… This was such a missed opportunity to platform a dark skinned Black woman”.

Despite making a handful of strides with inclusivity and diversity, Jade’s' take on the ALD campaign has reminded me about how the fashion industry is riddled with racist blunders. Not to mention that street wear in particular continues to erase Black women, despite being the pioneers of the street style movement. Which is kinda ironic if you ask me.

Street wear as we know it today was born out of survival, defiance and creativity in Black and Brown communities. One could argue that street style was birthed from Punk, Skate Culture and Californian surf culture, while that may be true, street wear at its core is also deeply rooted in the socio-political activism by Black and Brown communities. Street wear has borrowed from various sub-cultures and trends like 90s Hip Hop and R&B culture, Chicano culture and is influenced by political movements like the Black Panther movement.

However despite this, the contributions made by Black women seems to be very underrepresented in comparison to that made by Black men, and in turn holds no weight. This has been evident with how street wear fashion has been marketed. For decades Black and Brown women were continuously denied the opportunity to receive credit for their contributions to Street wear culture, fashion and beauty. We've seen this when the Kardashian clan and their white counterparts appropriated cornrow braids, renaming them to "boxer braids". Lets also not forget when the white girlies dubbed the classic brown lip liner and lip gloss look, a timeless trend that was first embraced by Latina and Black women, as an "out" trend for 2024. (wild, I know).

Kim Kardashian and Khloe Kardashian wearing "boxer braids" via Pinterest

Similarly, Black and Brown women were deliberately missing and erased from TV shows, music videos, fashion campaigns and magazine shoots. And when they were included, many were chosen because they were either of a lighter skin complexion or because they looked racially ambiguous, which also highlights how colourist the fashion industry generally is. 

As we Circle back to the Aime Leon Dore campaign, it is not clear whether or not this was an intentional move from the street wear and lifestyle brand to specifically not include darker skinned Black women in the campaign, however, what I do know though, is that having the same conversation about colourism, inclusivity and diversity over and over again, especially in 2024, is exhausting. And yes having these conversations are extremely important, especially when it comes to holding these brands accountable for their lack of understanding, however at this point, I feel like we're being gas lit. And not to take away from ALD's contributions to street wear and inclusion, but if you're going to do something, then make sure that you are intentional about it and that you're doing it right! If you're going to include men of all shades in your campaign, then do the same with Black women. It's really not that difficult.

Brands need to stop erasing Black and Brown women from street wear fashion, especially women with deeper skin tones, because if we're being brutally honest, they are the real pioneers of street wear fashion!

 Are you passionate about exploring the intricate worlds of beauty, sex, fashion, wellness, and culture? Do you belong to a marginalized community and have unique perspectives and stories to share? If so, Nightstand Service is eagerly seeking contributing writers like you! Get in touch:


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