Preview: Black (Power) Fashion
Black Lives Matter is strongly impacting the world. This movement has worked its way into the fashion industry and into runway collections and advertising. Fashion is one of the greatest ways of expression with trends guiding the way, and trends from the black community are making a huge reawakening. I spoke with James Sanders, fashion editor and celebrity stylist, about his upcoming panel, Black (Power) Fashion, more about him and his profession, and what attendees can expect from the panel.
Tell us a little about yourself and the work that you do.
“James & Co. is a freelance business that I operate under, but really, I am a fashion editor and celebrity stylist. My work consistently appears in Vogue Magazine, Glamour, GQ, and I’m also a regular contributor to the Huffington Post in New York. I’ve styled and will be styling a bunch of celebrities here and there, mostly in T.V. and film and, actually, later today I have a fitting for the Grammy Awards and will sometimes fit celebrities for the red carpet and also to the Grammy parties that will be taken place during Grammy week which kicks off in a few days, but primarily I mostly do fashion writing and styling.”
What sparked your interest in the field of fashion and your panel topic?
“I am African American, of course, I am black and I think it has given me a fresh perspective or, not even fresh, just a different perspective where fashion is concerned. When I’m sent to review Paris, Milan, and London Fashion week, I’m not only coming with the fashion perspective of a fashion editor but I’m coming with perspective of an African American as well, so it allows me to view trends for what they are, which is high fashion but also with a different kind of history.”
“So, I’ve started to put together a program for SXSW, it’s called Black (Power) Fashion, and the program focuses primarily on how blackness is being used in fashion media and the fashion industry. When I say being used, I don’t mean necessarily in a negative way but I also don’t necessarily mean in a positive way either. Without giving too much away, this is what we’ll essentially be exploring during the program at SXSW. What it’s going to do and how it’s going to function is that it’s going to provide a basis for discussion on how black people and black pioneers in fashion are kind of having a renaissance moment and how that’s being advertised and how that’s being projected in fashion media and in fashion advertising.”
What should the audience expect to hear at the panel?
“We’re going to be talking about trends from designers, advertising campaigns, what’s been going on with Black Lives Matter and the Black Power Movement and how it can become relevant in fashion. A year ago, some protesters for Black Lives Matter came and they basically crashed New York Fashion Week right outside the venue that it was taking place. I wrote about it, at least for those magazines, but what I found was that it was popping up in other media because it had become news. Black Lives Matter in fashion had become news and the fashion press was writing about it and covering it and photographing it and that’s never happened before, so that’s what we’re going to discuss. We’re going to discuss how events and how elections have all played a part in how blackness is being viewed today through the lens of fashion.”
What are you most excited about for the conference?
“I think I’m most excited to see the different people. I’ve never really been to an event like SXSW. It’s all very exciting for me, but I think, for me, the most exciting thing is that I heard Lee Daniels, the creator of Empire, is going to be one of the keynote speakers and I’m obsessed with his work. So, I’m really excited about that because I admire him and his work.”
What do you hope would be the greatest take away people who attend the panel will have?
“I want people to walk away with a little bit more of an understanding about how fashion functions, the fact that fashion is trend driven and that that means the fashion industry is going to militate messages their own way while at the same time choose what’s going on in society and culture, and, in this instance, African Americans appropriation and culture. So, I want them to walk away feeling like they learned something but also that they now have something to talk about that hasn’t been talked about before.”
When and Where:
Monday, March 13
12:30 – 1:30 p.m.
JW Marriott – Salon 3-4 / 110 E. 2nd St.
Find out more: Black (Power) Fashion