Top Ten Reads in Fashion 2021
If you’re interested in getting a grasp on Black culture in the fashion industry as a whole, check out our top 10 favorite reads for 2021!
From historical texts to biographies to memoirs and theoretical texts, there are numerous books on the subject of fashion. If you’re an avid fashion enthusiast and want to understand the fashion industry a little better, we suggest you start with these 10 books. These books offer an insight into the world of fashion, as well as a unique standpoint of Black culture and identity within this super-competitive industry.
  1. Supreme Models: Iconic Black Women Who Revolutionized Fashion
Black models have long been influencing the fashion scene and shaping pop culture for decades. Written by celebrity fashion stylist and TV personality Marcellas Reynolds, Supreme Models features top black models from the past 75 years. This book celebrates the monumental impact of past and present black models, showing stunning images of these women alongside details of their various runway shows, campaigns, covers, and editorials.
  1. Dapper Dan: Made in Harlem: A Memoir by Daniel R.Day
Daniel Day, popularly known as Dapper Dan, is an important figure in this last century of fashion. His world famous store on Harlem’s 125th Street paved the way for the modern-day luxurious streetwear that we enjoy wearing today. Now a fashion legend, and revered by the hip-hop community, he tells the remarkable story of his childhood, detailing his rise to fame. Day’s memoir is an inspiring read for aspiring black creatives who struggle to find approval within the fashion industry.
  1. Dandy Lion: The Black Dandy and Street Style
As author Shantrelle P. Lewis says it, mainstream fashion in recent years has been invaded by ‘high styled rebels’. The modern ‘dandy’ archetype is a style which combines suits that pop with loud colors and dazzling patterns. In this book, Shantrelle P outlines the influences of Black dandyism on today’s fashion, drawing its timeline as far back as England’s slave culture. Dandy Lion celebrates individual dandy personalities presenting contemporary photographs of this black style subculture’s electrifying colors and vibrant colors in bold poses.
  1. The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion
In this richly illustrated book, author, curator and fashion critic Antwaun Sargent addresses the radical transformation taking place in fashion and art today. This book discusses the role of the Black body in the world’s creative marketplace today. The New Black Vanguard profiles 15 Black photographers; such as Tyler Mitchell, the first Black Photographer hired to shoot a cover story or American Vogue; deeply examining the diverse methods with which they constructed the modern-day Black image in fashion around the world.
  1. Kwame Brathwaite: Black Is Beautiful
Kwame Brathwaite is a documentary photojournalist who popularized the political slogan ‘Black is Beautiful’ with his innovative work in the late 1950s and all through the 1960s. Now late, this monograph is the first ever dedicated to Brathwaite’s incredible career. It tells the story of the second Harlem Renaissance inspired by the writings of activist and Black Nationalist Marcus Garvey. This book shows behind the scenes images of Grandassa Models, Brathwaites’s 1962 modelling agency for black women; detailing his entire life and work.
  1. The Birth of Cool: Style Narratives of the African Diaspora
In the twentieth century, black style was, perhaps for the first time, recognized for its influence on the fashion scene. This was the start of black culture and fashion being deemed ‘cool’. The Birth of Cool investigates the role of dress in the creation and assertion of black identity. It identifies the effects of a diaspora experience, as far back as the late nineteenth century, on the establishment of the Black self-image today. This book presents photographs, paintings, films, homemade fashion excerpts; published and unpublished biographies and letters from Britain, Jamaica, and South Africa in an attempt to understand how personal style reflects issues of racial and cultural differences.
  1. How to Slay: Inspiration from the Queens and Kings of Black Style
How to Slay offers a lavishly illustrated overview of African American style through the twentieth century. This book takes the reader on an ‘an inspirational journey through black fashion in America from the twentieth century to the present, featuring the most celebrated icons of Black style and fashion. It reveals images of style of some of the most celebrated icons in the past 35 years of Black fashion history including celebrities like Rihanna and Kanye West.
  1. Africa Rising: Fashion, Design and Lifestyle from Africa
Today, African fashion is fast becoming the epitome of colorful, unconventional, fresh, elegant and self-confident styles. Africa Rising profiles the work of young creatives from the world’s biggest continent. Africa in general is becoming a creative scene, worthy of worldwide attention and this book reveals this development in a new light, illuminating Africa’s dynamic design and fashion. This book is a compelling display of Africa’s talented pioneers and their outstanding projects.
  1. Walking with the Muses: A Memoir
Written by fashion model Pat Cleveland, Walking with the Muses is a memoir detailing the international adventures of one of the first Black supermodels during the 60s and 70s. The book teleports readers back in time, taking you through fifty years of fashion; ‘cutting across the Civil Rights Movement, the disco era’s decadence and the grandeur of Hollywood’s late 70s renaissance’. With descriptions of runways of New York, Paris, Milan and Tokyo, Walking with the Muses is Pat Cleveland’s life story as a pioneering black model.
  1. The Rihanna Book by Rihanna
This book is a must-read for fans of Rihanna, one of pop culture’s style mavens. The Rihanna Book invites you into Rihanna’s world through a stunning visual autobiography. From her Barbados childhood to her famed worldwide tours; from iconic fashion moments to private time with friends and family, this book immerses the reader into Rihanna’s life as an artist, performer, designer and entrepreneur. Many images in this book have never been published outside of this book!

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