You’re never fully dressed without a smile, a mask ... and maybe another mask, just in case. But now that we are starting to emerge from our home offices, shed the sweatpants and venture back to the streets, you might be asking yourself: What should I wear? Is tie-dye still cool? Can I still wear high-rise jeans? Welcome to the great reopening, which will have you second-guessing your outfit like you’re back in middle school. But never fear, OZY is here to introduce the Black rising stars in the world of fashion, help you foresee future industry trends, show what you need to up your game for the fall and the global trends in a glamorous but sometimes grubby industry.
Isabelle Lee and Liam Jamieson, OZY Reporters
Black rising star fashion designers
1. Tadiwa Mashiri
Africans are used to being sold dreams. Mashiri, a 24-year-old from Zimbabwe, is trying to offer up a dose of creative reality to his country and the continent through Soul’d Dreams, a brand he started with his co-founders four years ago with a name that references those dashed promises. Mashiri tells OZY Soul’d Dreams’ work can be described as “Unisex street fashion with their inspiration stemming from the marriage of African history, fashion, art and postmodern culture.” But there’s a strong social ethos behind the brand, which holds an annual blanket drive where profits are used to buy blankets for families in need in Zimbabwe. To Mashiri, fashion’s about more than appearances. “Even though design can be seen sometimes as being purely aesthetic, the functionality of it sometimes is more important than we give it credit for,” he says.
2. Dapper Dan
In 1989, Olympic sprinter Diane Dixon was photographed wearing a puff-sleeve, fur-lined jacket featuring the iconic Louis Vuitton pattern. Then in 2017, Gucci created its own rendition of the jacket but did not credit the original designer — Harlem’s Dapper Dan. The incident sparked controversy but ended up spotlighting Dan’s incredible career as a pioneer of hip-hop fashion. He was forced out of business in the ’90s after being sued for using luxury brands in his designs, and admittedly, beating them at their own game. Since being called out, Gucci has put money behind Dapper Dan’s atelier. Given his history, we’d say that an apology is also a smart investment.
3. Yvonne Jewnell and Tandra Birkett
This powerhouse mother-daughter duo is the driver of Harlem Fashion Week. Yvonne is a designer herself and attended Parsons School of Design. Her mother, Tandra, is a New York University-educated history teacher. So it isn’t surprising that their work bears the stamp of delicious design married with a sense of history. The fashion week is aimed at showcasing global designers of color and giving Harlem its day in the sun as an international nexus of fashion. It highlights trends that originated in communities of color — especially in Harlem. It’s a counterforce to cultural appropriation that designers and sponsors have flocked to in droves.
4. Letesha Renee
The designer behind Chicago’s unisex, streetwear-inspired Eugene Taylor Brand is much, much more than a fashion entrepreneur on the rise. Once a victim of abuse, she started writing essays to help heal from the trauma. Upon realizing how powerful the experience was, she founded Safe House, a collaborative space for survivors to come together and share their stories. Renee joins them, reading her essays in front of other women. The self-described tomboy’s collections have been dedicated to icons like Diana Ross, but the brand itself is an ode to Renee’s grandmother — her middle and last names were Eugene and Taylor — who taught her how to sew.
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By nature, fashion is an evolving industry with new styles, designs and trends emerging every day. But for much of its history, it’s been shrouded in exclusivity, barring those with darker skin complexions and curvier body shapes. This time, Rihanna hopes to leave no one behind. The singer’s Savage x Fenty lingerie line shuns the picture-perfect sentiments of brands like Victoria’s Secret, promoting inclusivity by featuring underwear for people of all skin tones and body types. What’s more, as people of color consistently struggle to find makeup that matches their skin, Rihanna also founded Fenty Beauty, a makeup brand that features a wide range of products to match skin tones of all kinds. While social media campaigns like #savagesummer continue to bring on the heat, keep an eye out for new drops from Rihanna’s brands this fall.
For decades, Harlem has been an epicenter of Black culture. Yet until recently, Black designers had few avenues to gain broader recognition. Memphis-born Brandice Daniel has been on a mission to change that since 2007, when she founded Harlem’s Fashion Row, stirring up the industry years before diversity and inclusivity initiatives were at the forefront of the fashion world’s radar. HFR serves as a platform for designers of color by hosting fashion shows, including some that are part of New York Fashion Week, which takes place in September. It also organizes exhibitions and summits that help small designers of color promote their work and build vital industry connections. The company’s trailblazing work has garnered significant community support, including a collaboration with Nike and LeBron James in 2018.
4. The Disruption of the Traveling Pants
Though most clothing tags list the country that the article was made in, that doesn’t tell the whole story. From sourcing the raw materials to shipping the product to a home or store, most clothes take a journey around the world, reliant on a network of supply chains for all of the pieces to come together. But the pandemic caused a significant disruption in these supply chains, from retailers canceling orders to changes in consumer habits. The brunt of the impact, though, has fallen on fast fashion’s garment workers, many of whom have gone without wages amid the pandemic. As the world slowly opens up and supply chains crank back up, is the time right for fast-fashion reform so that workers’ rights are protected?
The flowers are blooming and the world is reopened, so you’ll want to make sure you enjoy the season in style. We have just the thing: our favorite sneakers from Cariuma. These colorful kicks are crazy-comfy and sustainably made. Get an OZY-exclusive $15 off with code OZY15 to step out in style this spring.
Nothing is more essential than a shoe that goes with everything. Nude heels are perfect for that purpose and are a staple for the office or a night out. But, not every brand makes nude heels in every shade of nude. The lack of shade diversity impacts everything from Band-Aids to bras to ballet shoes. So, designer Salone Monet decided that she would make nude heels for every woman after working on a department store floor in D.C. Enter her New York-based eponymous brand, Salone Monet. It offers six shades of nude heels, making it an industry standout. The brand was endorsed and worn by Beyoncé for its commitment to inclusivity.
2. Banging Bag
If you are headed back to the office or are frantically running through airports again, you need a bag that works for you … and ideally, one that will last a long time. Materials like leather are ideal for longevity and the cool factor. Look no further than Made Leather Co. Lenise Williams founded the company after visiting leather tanneries in Morocco. All the leather for the bags is sourced from artisans in the “land of colors, ” so you can feel good about where your bag comes from and who your purchase is supporting. It’s time to make going back to the office fun, unique and sustainable.
3. Skateboarding’s in
Not ready to brave the subway or public buses just yet? Have you considered a skateboard as a means of transportation for 2021? Maybe you learned to skateboard during the lockdown as a hobby, or perhaps you envy how cool skateboarders look whizzing by you. If you live in New York, you might have noticed more and more skaters taking to the streets. One NYC resident described skating through the empty streets as “flying.” If you’re looking for a board, you should try Proper Gnar. Black skater Latosha Stone started the brand in 2013, and her boards have even been on TV: They were featured in HBO’s Betty.
4. Good for the Planet and You
Seattle-based designer Valerie Madison uses recycled diamonds and metals to make her jewelry guilt-free and stunning. Making jewelry sustainably and ethically is no easy feat, so it helps to have a degree in environmental science from the University of Washington. One of the largest gold mines in the world lies in Utah, and the mining has caused such a large crater that it is visible from space. But eco-friendly jewelry is increasingly an area of focus for designers. By using recycled metals and gemstones, Madison is at the cutting edge of this sparkling revolution.
stylin’ around the world
1. Cool Weganool
Nature often has the best answers. Amid calls for green products and fabrics in the pollution-heavy fashion industry, Indian fashion entrepreneur Gowri Shankar found an eco-friendly and vegan alternative to wool in the form of a wasteland shrub that grows throughout much of South and Southeast Asia. Coined “Weganool, ” the plant’s fibers can be extracted without chemicals and it can be grown in soil with high salinity and little water — plus the liquid leftovers can be made into insect repellent. European firms are already embracing it. Could America be next?
Step aside, Milan. Amid a sea of white kandura robes worn by men and dark abaya cloaks worn by women, desert city Dubai is becoming an emerging capital of fashion. International, modern and wealthy, the Emirati city has the tools for success, headquartering Vogue Arabia, boasting gargantuan, luxury shopping centers and even featuring a design district dedicated to hosting galleries and studios for high-end brands like Christian Dior and Burberry. But can the oil-dependent city compete with the culture-rich fashion hubs of New York, Paris and London?
Reminiscent of Victorian and Edwardian aesthetics, founded in Japan and now spreading around the globe? Welcome to Lolita fashion. Popularized through the ever-booming anime and manga industries, the knee-high socks, pastel ruffled skirts and frilly flower-laced bonnets of Lolita “makes me feel feminine, creative and unique,” American Lolita fan Ashlyn Smith tells OZY. And with its global spotlight booming thanks to Lolita conventions, annual “Lolita Days” and appearances on the New York Fashion Week catwalk, the Lolita industry is bursting at the seams, bringing in more opportunities for its designers to rake in the big bucks.
“Made in Vietnam” is taking on a new meaning. Once synonymous with the export of fast fashion, Vietnam is now giving birth to a generation of homegrown fashion designers. They’re starting to make waves globally, such as Do Manh Cuong, who has worked with brands including Christian Dior and Dominique Sirop, and Nguyen Cong Tri, whose daring ’fits have cloaked A-listers like Rihanna and Katy Perry. And other designers might soon follow. Just over a decade ago, there were a mere four fashion education institutions in the country. Today? There are over 15 schools in Ho Chi Minh City alone. Count the country in for the future of fashion and glam.
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Good morning! From floods in China and Europe to forest fires in California and Oregon, climate change is sending us near-daily reminders of its force. Yet the fight against global warming is often pitched as opposing economic development. Today you’ll meet a Nigerian economist with the credentials and authority to finally build the economy and our defense against climate change. Read about China’s classroom diplomacy and bizarre private islands before traveling to Mt. Fuji while lying in your bed. Read to the end for this week’s spot the difference contest.
The CDC’s fresh guidance asking fully vaccinated people to also wear masks indoors in places with high COVID-19 rates is rooted in growing concerns that even those who’ve received their shots could carry the virus at the same levels as those who’ve not been inoculated. That would make them dangerous transmitters, but independent experts are asking to see the data that has led the agency to this new — and worrying — conclusion. Meanwhile, the Pan American Health Organization has warned that Argentina, Colombia, Cuba, Ecuador and Paraguay continue to have some of the world’s highest death rates from the pandemic. Will you continue wearing masks indoors if fully vaccinated? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: WaPo, CNBC, Al Jazeera)
2. Building Bridges
A major $550 billion infrastructure deal passed a critical test in the U.S. Senate on Wednesday, with 17 Republicans backing it, marking a win for President Joe Biden’s attempts at building bipartisan alliances to get key plans approved by Congress. The infrastructure package still needs a final go-ahead in both the Senate and the House of Representatives. (Sources: NYT, NBC)
3. Tunis Takeover
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied has dismissed prosecutors and judges, assuming judicial powers days after suspending the country’s parliament and removing the prime minister from office, deepening global concerns over the loss of democratic gains the North African nation has made since the Arab Spring. (Source: Guardian)
Caeleb Dressel, America’s biggest swimming star, won his first individual gold and set an Olympic record in the 100 meter freestyle this morning, soon after teammate Bobby Finke recorded a surprise win in the first ever 800 meter men’s freestyle event at the Games. But in the 4x200 meter women’s relay, China triumphed with a world record despite a final-leg surge from Team USA’s Katie Ledecky. America leads the overall medals tally, followed by China and the Russian Olympic Committee team.
Let your taste buds travel to new destinations from the comfort of your couch! Taste delicious wines from the world’s best wine regions — all handpicked by Bright Cellars’ in-house sommeliers and delivered straight to your doorstep. Passport not required.
For decades, economies have sought faster GDP growth as their central performance metric. Raworth believes it’s time to pivot to an opposite belief: Slower economic growth and even stagnation are signs of success, and are necessary to fight climate change. Instead of ceaseless growth, she’s arguing for the “doughnut model”: a paradigm that advocates for an economy that stays within twin circles, the inner one representing our minimum needs and the outer one our environmental limits. Read more on OZY.
2. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala
In March, Nigeria’s former finance minister became the first African head of the World Trade Organization. And from that powerful perch, she’s trying to make the climate central to global trade considerations, including through a carbon tax on imports designed in a way that it doesn’t contradict the principles of free trade. This isn’t new ground for her: She’s served as co-chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate — a leading group of government and private sector leaders that advocate for economic policy that keeps the environment at its center. Now she’s in a position to actually make that difference.
One of the first notable Asian American women of prominence on the American stage, Margaret Cho inspired a generation of performers like Awkwafina and Ali Wong. Today, the comedian joins Carlos to speak openly about the struggles she experienced in her rise to fame, from assault to addiction to finding her identity. Watch today.
CHINA’S CLASSROOM DIPLOMACY
Big infrastructure projects and military threats aren’t Beijing’s only tools in expanding itsglobal influence. Increasingly, education is a key pillar of its strategy.
Setting up entire university campuses isn’t always the most efficient cultural diplomacy tool. Across Africa and Latin America, China has set up dozens of Confucius Institutes that are embedded within local universities and expose students to Chinese culture while teaching Mandarin. Critics accuse China of using these institutes to shape local perceptions about the country.
Did Oracle founder Larry Ellison see the future when he purchased 98 percent of this Hawaiian paradise for $300 million in 2012 ? Ellison built the island into a high-end wellness retreat, complete with an airline that ferries people from Oahu. Now he has moved to Lanai himself amid the pandemic, working over Zoom.
Madonna wanted it, as did Bill Gates and Giorgio Armani. But the Greek island that was once owned by tycoon Aristotle Onassis (it’s where he married Jackie Kennedy) now belongs to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the daughter of Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolovlev. It’s price tag? A cool $150 million.
What do you do when you face rape charges but your wealthy followers believe you’re their guide to God? You anoint yourself ruler of a remote island. Controversial Indian godman Nithyananda, accused of raping disciples, owns an island off the coast of Ecuador, where he claims he’s establishing a “Hindu nation” with e-embassies and now, flights to other parts of the world.
Sure you can’t travel to Tokyo for the Olympics, but you can visit some of the city’s greatest landmarks as you soak in the Games … from the comfort of your couch.
Technically, the peak that’s a visual metaphor for Japan sits some 85 miles outside Tokyo. But you can daydream your way up from wherever you are, with stunning live views of the mountain from myriad directions through this network of cameras.
3. Tokyo National Museum
And if you’re more the indoors type, how about a 360 degree tour of this majestic museum, with its offerings of rare antiques and art spanning centuries? Get ready to unpack the history and mystery of Japan.
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Can you identify the four differences between the two images above? Check here for last week’s answers and winners.
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Bold start. Smooth finish. The newsletter that interesting people love.
Happy Tuesday! If mighty America couldn’t defeat the Taliban, do Afghans stand a chance against the rampaging group? As the U.S. completes its pullout from Afghanistan, meet a woman who has defied the Taliban for a quarter of a century. Learn about the new regional currencies looking to emulate the euro. As the Olympic Games throw up champions barely in their teens, read about the mystery kid who might be the youngest gold medalist ever. And check out some of 2021’s best rock music — coming to you from the deserts of Niger.
That’s what America’s biggest city and state have decided. New York City announced mandatory COVID-19 vaccinations or weekly testing for all government workers while California declared a similar requirement for state employees and health care staff. Federal Veterans Affairs medical workers must get inoculated. Meanwhile, a new study suggests the U.S. might have undercounted its COVID-19 cases — already the highest in the world — by up to 60%. Do you agree with vaccine mandates? Vote here or on Twitter. (Sources: NPR, NYT, Boston Globe)
2. Money Musk
Elon Musk-founded electric car manufacturer Tesla has registered record profits of $1.1 billion in the last quarter, defying supply chain challenges that have forced other companies to hit the brakes. (Sources: WSJ, FT)
3. Curfew or Coup?
Tunisian President Kais Saied has imposed a nationwide month-long curfew and a ban on public gatherings a day after dismissing the prime minister and parliament, strengthening worries that he’s staging a coup in one of the Arab world’s rare functioning democracies. Saied has rejected allegations of a takeover. The ousted government’s mishandling of the pandemic has sparked massive street protests in recent weeks. (Sources: Guardian, Bloomberg)
Gold is great. Love is priceless. Argentine fencer Maria Belen Perez Maurice lost in the competition yesterday, but was surprised with an on-camera proposal from her coach during a post-game interview. Perez said yes.
OZY is all about investigating the next trends and ideas to watch out for. Discerning wine drinkers are eschewing the crowded grocery store or pricey specialty shops for a more personalized experience — take Bright Cellars’ easy 7-question taste quiz and get matched with wines chosen for your unique taste palate. The future of wine is streamlined, tailored and convenient.
The “butcher of Kabul” pounded the Afghan capital with missiles during the 1990s when warring militias were trying to grab control of the country after the fall of its Soviet-backed regime. Three decades later, the 71-year-old Islamist militia leader is back after years in exile, pitching himself as a senior statesman who is at the center of negotiations involving the Taliban and Afghanistan’s government. Could this former Taliban ally emerge as an unlikely consensus candidate to lead the nation after America’s withdrawal … and will the people of Kabul forgive him?
2. Rashid Khan
As a child, he had to flee his country and seek refuge in Pakistan. Now he’s back home, and the heartbeat of Afghanistan’s stunning rise as a cricketing nation. Khan had initially dreamed of becoming a doctor. But perhaps he was always destined for a career in cricket, as the sixth of 11 brothers — a perfect number for a cricket team. And not just any cricketing career: Today he’s a top-ranked bowler and is sought after by leagues the world over. And he’s just 22.
3. Shukria Barakzai
She was once thrashed on the streets of Kabul by the Taliban for not having a man accompanying her. Since then, the pioneering journalist has run a female-focused weekly magazine, helped draft the post-Taliban Afghan constitution and has served in the country’s parliament. Today she’s trying to carve out space for women’s concerns as her nation lurches toward an uncertain future. She feels betrayed by America’s sudden withdrawal but doesn’t think armed civilian militias are the answer to the Taliban, even though its members tried to assassinate Barakzai. But the vocal feminist, who ran a clandestine school for girls when the Taliban were in power, knows the art of survival. More than two decades later, she once again stands in their way.
TODAY ON ‘THE CARLOS WATSON SHOW’
The star of Percy Jackson, Baywatch and TrueDetective drops by. Alexandra Daddario — who’s also starring in modern-day Romeo and Juliet story Die in a Gunfight, which was recently released — tells how having two lawyers for parents and a former congressman for a grandfather is a part of her recipe for success. Watch later today.
THE NEXT EURO?
Brexit might have dulled the glitter of the European Union. But the euro, its currency, continues to inspire other regional equivalents.
1. West Africa
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has mulled a single currency for the better part of two decades. Now it has a new roadmap to bring that vision to reality by 2027. The eco, as the currency would be called, would be shared by the bloc’s 15 nations. That’s if they can avoid the infighting that’s delayed past efforts at building a more integrated economy.
Like most of the world, Asia primarily trades in dollars. And that leaves the world’s most populous continent, with three of its largest economies — China, Japan and India — vulnerable to economic shocks in America. That’s why some experts are arguing for a common Asian trading currency while a team of Japanese economists has proposed a pan-Asiatic digital currency.
Could the two South American giants come together to launch a common currency? It’s an idea that has been debated by previous presidents — and then discarded. But in 2019, Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro revived the proposal, discussing it with his then Argentine counterpart Mauricio Macri. The idea of a shared currency called the peso real drew swift criticism and mockery, especially since both nations have a history of inflation. But don’t forget: The euro once seemed impossible too.
LUCKY 13: YOUNGEST OLYMPIC CHAMPIONS
Like 13-year-old Momiji Nishiya of Japan, who won the women’s skateboarding gold yesterday, age was just a number for these teenage superstars — some of the youngest Olympic champions in the history of the Games.
So what if you haven’t traveled in a year. Listen to the latest album from Tuareg rockstar Mdou Moctar and you’ll instantly be transported to the deserts of Niger, his homeland, relishing his silky voice, stunning guitar and a mix of romantic songs and tense numbers about imperialism and women’s rights. Listen.
Reggaeton rhythms seamlessly laced with sensual notes mark the bold new album from Colombian singer Karol G. The world’s most popular female Latina singer injects the sounds of bossa nova and bachata into her already rich arsenal for this album. The result is pure gold.
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