The past two years have been an especially tumultuous time for race relations in America. This is particularly true for the relationship between police and the black community, but is also evident in other areas such as TV, education, and fashion. Faced with the widespread, blatant mistreatment and killings of people of color (often without any repercussions for the aggressor), many people around the world have been moved to take a stand. Some write, some organize protests, and some take a knee.
Shayla, of Random And Chic, chose fashion.
At an event where your outfit speaks louder than words, the stylist and self-described activist made sure her clothes were heard loud and clear at New York Fashion Week, currently in progress. She, her sister, and two of her friends became the symbol of being fly, woke, and fearless when they donned outfits with various messages addressing injustices in the black community in America. There was a jacket paying homage to victims of police brutality and racism, such as Sandra Bland and Trayvon Martin; handbags with the phrase “As if y’all care about brown issues;” and even a sequined blazer that took a page out of Kanye’s book to call out Vogue Magazine: “Vogue doesn’t care about black issues.” Other accessories gave a shoutout to one of the few designers who have openly addressed the lack of black representation in fashion and made moves to address it: “Zac Posen <3’s Black Lives.”
I was so blown away, impressed, and inspired by their fearless passion to stand for what they believe in, so I reached out to Shayla to ask her some questions about what inspired her to #SlayForAchange.
What inspired you and your friends to use fashion to address social issues affecting the black community?
S: The idea first came about after the death of Sandra Bland last year. I have always felt like fashion is my voice, and that my way of expressing the emotions I felt and the outrage could be through my clothes. I also felt like there is strength in numbers so I called up my sister and two friends to get involved as well.
It was pretty bold (and awesome) to call out the fashion industry’s disregard for many black issues, while at fashion’s biggest event of the year, Fashion Week. What is your opinion about the fashion industry?
S: I always say, I love the fashion artistry but not the industry. My biggest issue is the silence I feel from the industry when it comes to black issues.
How have the deaths of black people at the hands of police officers affected you as a blogger and activist?
S: The deaths of black people at the hands of cops have affected me tremendously. I’m still grieving them. But as a creative individual, the pain and frustration allowed me to create something so beautiful. I am working on a documentary called Fashion Weak, and it follows our journey during fashion week. It also addresses a lot of the issues of race as it pertains to fashion. I want to keep moving this message along!
What advice do you have for other people who want to make statement about the injustices in the black community, but aren’t sure how?
S: My advice is to do it! You can’t wait for a “movement.” You have to become a movement. And even if it just touches one person, then your job is done.
*All photos credited to Shayla’s Instagram account.