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Are These Guys “Pushing The Boundaries Of Black Style?”

Submitted by on August 19, 2011 – 5:21 pmOne Comment

The New York Times posted an article this week titled “Pushing The Boundaries of Black Style,” where they interviewed fashionisto bloggers Travis Gumbs and Joshua Kissi (of Streetetiquette.com) about the shift in fashion amongst African-Americans. Here is an excerpt:

“There’s more than one cool now for black people,” Mr. Gumbs said on a recent Tuesday at the Bergen Street studio, wearing a slight wisp of a goatee and dark glasses that sharpened his round face. “When we were growing up, it was just one kind of cool.”

That was hip-hop, with its hegemonic style. But the men of Street Etiquette and their peers practice a deliberate elision of hip-hop style (except in the site’s early days, when the two were still shaking free of their Air Jordans). They even eschew the prim eccentricity of an Andre 3000, or the cosmopolitan flamboyance of Kanye West.

Instead, this generation emphasizes the basics: great fabrics, aggressive tailoring, thoughtful accessorizing. It’s a return to style as a source of dignity, a theme that has run through generations of black American style, from Reconstruction to the Harlem Renaissance to the civil rights era to the mixed messages of the hip-hop era.

“I used to wear size 42 jeans,” Mr. Kissi said. “Coming from that to a tie and shirt, people perceive you in a whole different way.”

Fonzworth Bentley, hip-hop dandy, motivational speaker and author of “Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead,” echoed that sentiment in recalling his efforts to get Sean Combs into more-elegant clothing: “He had to walk with his back different,” Mr. Bentley said. “He had to talk different. To bring class to hip-hop, that was the specific singular goal I had.”


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