“If I buy your clothes, why aren’t you including women who look like me in your campaigns?,” says panelist M’heri Jackson, co-creator of Brown Sugar Collective and brand ambassador for Staple Pigeon. Inclusivity and proper representation were a few of the major themes that were touched on during this past weekend’s StreetHearts panel discussion, hosted by THEAFROBLEUS magazine.
“’StreetHearts’ is fostering a necessary conversation about the representation of women of color in streetwear culture,” says THEAFROBLEUS’ editor-in-chief Asia Riddick. Moderator Ashley Haines, corporate communications manager at Footlocker and former HYPEBAE editor, dove deep on a number of challenges women of color in streetwear face, such as inequality, cultural appropriation and more. The stellar lineup of women on the panel included Sydney Reising creative fashion publicist Ahniyah Gold, model and KITH associate Ciara Matos, and Cherelle Moore, founder of streetwear brand Cherrypose.
When asked about the ongoing cultural appropriation, panelist Ahniyah Gold disclosed the frustration between black and brown women deal with facing the responsibility to educate others. “In corporate settings, we’re sort of looked at as an ‘ambassador’ [for people of color] and have to step in and say ‘okay, you know, that’s not the best wording for that,’ or ‘maybe we should try something else,’ or ‘let’s not put that on that white model.’ Eventually it gets to point where you get tired.” Though the burden is heavy, the panelists encouraged the attendees to continue speaking their mind, stressing the importance of truth.
The panelists remain hopeful that change is on the horizon, despite the fact that the industry is still dealing with injustices and a lack of women of color in many areas. “Now is a great opportunity to be your own brand,” says Ciara. “With a lot of turmoil going on in the world, change will come. I believe there will be more women of color in positions of power within the next couple of years. We just need to continue supporting one another.”
Panelists reinforced the power that comes with community and why we need to band together now more than ever. ”Whatever end you’re on, be genuine and be nice because you don’t know where they’re going to be, when someone is asking for help. The person asking you for help could be the CEO for the company you want to work for and you would’ve missed your chance.”
StreetHearts closed off on a sweet note, with the speakers prompting the crowd to support small, female-centric streetwear brands, hire women of color when creating their own projects, and supporting events that foster a positive environment for women in similar spaces. Check out the gallery above for some of our StreetHearts highlights.
- Esiwahomi Ozemebhoya