for afropunk festival-goers, style is powerfully political

August 27, 2017
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Over the years, AFROPUNK has been celebrated for providing a platform for self-expression. Whether in Paris, London, Brooklyn, Atlanta or Johannesburg, you can expect attendees to show up in the most eye-catching looks, each one more extravagant than the last.

But this isn’t just some makeshift fashion show. These are people from marginalized communities—across and outside the gender spectrum, of all sizes and shades of Black and Brown—who are asserting their right to be safe in this space, when there is often no safety elsewhere.

Behind many of these seemingly over-the-top looks are unheard voices demanding the ear of the world.

We worked with photographer Camila Falquez to capture the most important style statements from Saturday, and spoke to the wearers about why the message behind their look was so necessary:

“I am a Muslim woman and I wear hijab. As such, there are ideas about who I am and the way that I dress, so I felt it necessary to express myself through this piece as a way to portray what I feel inside about those ideas.”

*(Patch by @sabdelhamid)

“I consider how I look something that comes naturally, but I carry around the honor of being a Black person, and self-expression was deemed illegal for our ancestors, so I think even naturally expressing ourselves as Black people is a radical act. So many times the dress Black people have developed is outlawed or deemed as a signifier that we are dangerous or aren’t welcome in certain places, so it’s important that we express ourselves despite that.

I’ve engaged with pressures from the gender binary my whole life. I’ve always been on the androgynous side and I didn’t know it had a name, but I always felt like I wasn’t comfortable looking how I was brought up to look. Society definitely puts these pressures so that people who are scared of difference are never made uncomfortable. Especially as a female-assigned person, a lot of how we look is supposed to be monitored so that we fit within an oppressive patriarchy, so I think it’s important that we say, ‘fuck that.’”

“I chose to wear army fatigue as a symbol of resistance. Not just in a violent sort of way, but in every social setting—resisting social programming that we are susceptible to while we are younger. Genuinely approaching people when we are taught to be closed off. It’s a symbol of being free and claiming the world as yours.”

“I saw Frank Ocean wear this from The Green Box Shop at the Panarama concert and the woman behind it creates so many social justice type shirts. This one resonated with me because I go to school in a mostly white place and this shirt helps me spark discussion but also shows people who aren’t on the talkative side to show some sort of resistence. Because even if you don’t know what it means to be transphobic, this opens up the opportunity to ask questions.”

“I dress like this every weekend. I’m a raver, that’s how we dress. I’ve been doing this about 12 years, because the rave scene was a scene that I immediately connected to. It is important for me to dress this way because it’s who I am, outside of going to work.”

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