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Dear British GQ: You Have To Give Credit When Credit is Due... Rings & "Things"

Let’s face it, sometimes even our favs get it wrong.

Enter British GQ. On Friday, a tweet by the UK men's fashion publication began to circulate with the headline, “Thanks to Harry Styles, Wearing Multiple Rings is Now a Thing,” and after reading this one-liner, I’m sure you can easily pinpoint the problematic punchline.

https://twitter.com/BritishGQ/status/903935787821146112

In 100-words-or-less, the writer shares his quandary in deciding who exactly to give credit to for this “new found” trend: Harry Style, Liberace, or Gucci creative director, Alessandro Michele. In his search to declare the originator, he came to the conclusion that no matter which of these individuals he decided, this trend is indeed “a thing.”

Allow me to be as gentle as possible in saying this because if we let the record show, I’m the first to provide everyone with the benefit of the doubt: this particular sector of GQ responsible for publishing the article is British. And to a very small, yet certain extent, you can’t exactly knock them for being in their bubble of ignorance when it comes to identifying the root of this particular style (I’ll get to that in a second); but on the flip side, a quick Google search could have easily solved this.

The oversight made by this publication is yet another case of a fashion trend wrongly sited. In just the 2 minutes it took me to spot the error in the article, I could think of five men of color who could be given some type of credit for bringing this trend to light; first and foremost being:

Shabba Ranks: ultra-dapper, Jamaican dancehall artist responsible for giving us wind-worthy dance tings like, “Mr. Loverman.”

 

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Darondo: Funk, Soul and Afro-Beats artist; lover.

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Luka Sabbat: model, young creative, and style God extraordinaire.

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Trinidad James: ...remember him?

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and…

Mark Anthony Green: GQ Magazine’s very own resident Style Guy, editor, and artist of himself.

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You see, whenever these types of slip-ups occur, the opportunity for people of color, particularly Black folk, to receive the overdue credit that they deserve for their creative genius is lost in the wind.

Where do you all really think these brands get their inspiration from?

Oh, Aley, why does it always have to be about race?? Honestly, that’s not for me to answer because neither I nor my ancestors are responsible for creating this structural concept or the system in which we all currently operate under; in other words: don’t shoot the messenger. But to that inquiry, I’ll be gracious enough to propose the following: cultural appropriation and Columbus Syndrome.

*No! Not those terms again!!*

These days, the two have become one in the same: the false claim of pre-existing, occupied land and goods that settlers, now Smith College grads from Danbury, Connecticut,who reconstruct and wipe out an entire community of people, leaving those that were previously inhabiting the area, down, out and destitute. Think of Gucci’s recent Dapper Dan debacle, but make it Bed-Stuy: you “stumble” upon something that has already been lived in, experienced, and known by a minority/disenfranchised group of people but once Chad Miller takes 4 subway stops too far on his way to Williamsburg, his primal instinct is to claim the land he's discovered as his own, and spread the news to his fellow privileged associates.

To say the least, it’s frustrating.

If you’re reading this and happen to not fill in the “Black-African American” box on a job application, I could see why you may experience some difficulty seeing the issue here. But think about it: after being stolen from your native land, undergoing centuries of conditioning to eraser all traces of your culture, heritage, and language to learn someone else’s, and then take another century to cultivate your own culture, style, and vernacular, only to have the same group that erased yours turn around and appropriate/commodify the one you work so diligently to develop... I mean, you wouldn’t be somewhat irritated? Exhausted even?

Black and Brown pimps, rappers and glorified drug dealers... have all rocked this “thing” for decades as a form of self-expression, clout and the display of social status.

Black and Brown pimps, rappers and glorified drug dealers, from Harlem to Puerto Rico, have all rocked this “thing” for decades as a form of self-expression, clout and the display of social status. The only difference between them and the ex-boy brand member crowned as the pioneer is that one is deemed as ghetto, gaudy and a threat to the safety of those around him and the other? Well, he just gets praised in fashion magazines for being “trendy.”

In fashion, there is a space for cultural exchange, but the primary objective of an exchange is to give something and receive something back. If one side just takes and never gives in return, that’s where we cross into theft.

And if history has taught us anything, that never ends well.


Before you go: What are your thoughts on today's topic? Can you name any other men of color who could be accredited for this style? Sound off in the comments below, I want to hear your take!

Peace, peace, peace,

Aley Arion 

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