When was the last time you were in a room full of people whose sole purpose was to support, uplift and appreciate black men? For me it was last weekend when I attended the #Blackmenarelit fashion show. The show took place at the Wheeler Arts Community, a converted carburator factory in fountain square. The high ceilings brick walls and dim lighting created the perfect vibe for a fashion show. Kandis Nickole & Sara Jene are the creative curators of Fashion Forward, an event planning & image consulting collaborative. They are known for their bold styling and culturally awakening events.
In a society that constantly criticizes and negatively labels black men, it was refreshing to witness an event centered around pouring positivity to back into them. There were four scenes #BlackMenMatter #NeoSoulMan #ClassicMan #StreetStyle that represent different styles.
The first scene in #BlackMenMatter started with a statement visual of a boy in a black hoodie carrying a drink to symbolize Trayvon Martin. This emblematic symbol of a young black man whose death ignited a nationwide movement immediately set the tone for the show. The scene had all the models dressed in different variations of all black.
The second scene #NeoSoulMan stood out by following an all-black prior act withanexplosion of colors, with the men wearing bright dashikis and other tribal prints. None of the models had shoes on for this scene, to stay true to the essence of the conscious man.
The classic man scene was an ode to the businessmen. Tailored suits, cufflinks ,and dapper gents filled the runway. The black business man was one of my personal favorites because we need to see more images of men in cuff links instead of handcuffs.
The last scene was street style — and there was such range in designers and style — from 90’s starter jackets to clear vinyl hoodies. It brought me back to a time where we had shows like The Cosby Show, A Different World and Living Single.
Fashion Forward partnered with local designers & businesses Jakes Closet, Blake A-L Boyd, Accessories by April, Heaven Royal Clothing & Naptown Thrift. They even had a vendor section showcasing black owned businesses.
This event helped create a nuanced narrative of what a black man is, and showed the their true potential to other young black men. The misrepresentations of black men in the media can create mental barriers, so an event that represents the versatility and beauty in being black man was extremely refreshing. Using fashion as a means of social change is lit — and we have Fashion Forward to thank for that! From A seat at the table listening party, to the more recent #Blackmenarelit, their events are great for fashion scene in Indianapolis.