As I celebrate and revere Black creativity and genius this month, I send my love and healing energy to the family, friends and loved ones of Dr. Antoinette “Bonnie” Candia-Bailey. To all Black women–identified folx who are struggling to find their rainbow: You are more than enough.
Let me ask you, dear reader. When I say the word “fashion,” what comes to mind? France? Supermodels who are super skinny stomping on a super runway? Couture? Let me tell you what instantly comes to my mind. I think of neon-pink tights emerging from worn jean shorts and equally neon-colored tops. I think of bright fingernails and even brighter lipstick. I think of bantu knots, with long box braids, sometimes in multiple colors, emerging from their round tops. Blackness. That’s what it comes down to. Black people, most notably womxn and girls, driving culture, trends, fashion.
How fortuitous, then, that we at Austin Woman are celebrating the world of fashion in the same month that we revere Blackness. Everything I just described was historically tied to negative connotations of what it means to be Black. Words like “ratchet,” “ghetto” or “hood rat” all sprang forth in conversations about us, whether on talk shows, debates or cut eyes and harsh whispers. Unsurprisingly, these same trends we were mocked for have become staples of TikTok how-tos and mainstream “discoveries.” In this issue, we’re redirecting the conversation back to the originators, the innovators, the trendsetters. We are using this issue to give love and flowers to Black and Brown creatives in the ever-expansive fashion space.
Our cover woman, Nina Means, has made a life from helping those who are oftentimes underserved, opening up opportunities for designers who need and deserve access that they might otherwise not have. As the director of Austin Community College’s Fashion Incubator, she’s championed designers from all walks of life, while also making space for a variety of people within the industry to shine within their own passions. We get a chance to introduce a few of those women-identified creatives—Carolyn Nash, Amenta Cutliff and Lisa Husberg—whose designs have truly expanded the conversation around fashion in Austin. But remember, this is an industry that thrives on innovation, and thrives even more on the sensibilities of the current generation. We take it to UT Austin’s campus to see what Gen Z are into this winter.
Austin Woman’s February issue allows you, dear readers, an opportunity to celebrate the brilliance of Black and Brown culture through the lens of fashion. We also invite you to celebrate local innovation with our inaugural fashion show, in collaboration with ACC’s Fashion Incubator, on Tuesday, Feb. 13 at Austin PBS, KLRU-TV. Join us for an unforgettable runway show, networking and connection.