“See the Alexander Wang T-Shirts You Can’t Buy Anywhere” the headline read.
Out of curiosity, I clicked the link. Instead of finding some mystical T-Shirt made of rare fabric and hand sewn by Black Jesus, I found something more regular. Very regular. I was shocked to find that the T-Shirts we “can’t buy anywhere,” I had bought and worn back in high school. Something told me that a zillion other Black people in the last 30 years had too.
Here it is, ladies and gentleman. Lo and behold.
— The Cut (@TheCut) September 12, 2016
An airbushed tee. Hand crafted by Alexander Wang himself. Stunning, aren’t they? Incredible! Unparalleled! Never been done before!
As you can see, this title is incredibly misleading. And like most major outlets who cater to a predominately white audience, they’ve managed to whitewash the origins of popular art and fashion trends-this time it’s graffiti art and airbrush design.
The first modern graffiti writer is widely considered to be Cornbread, a high school student from Philly, who started tagging city walls in 1967 to get the attention of a girl he was crushin’ on. But it wasn’t until the 1980s that galleries began to showcase graffiti as artwork. Meet Cornbread.
Cut to the “Shirt Kings”-the Pioneers of Hip Hop Fashion. Edwin “Phade” Sacasa, Rafael “Kasheme” Avery, and Clyde “Nike” Harewood, three New York artists, are who we have to thank for the airbrush/graffiti shirt trend.
Peaking in the late 80’s, the team soon became the go-to guys for dopeness. Customizing shirts, and often adding designer logos to their artwork, the trio made people in the hood feel like a million bucks, even if the logos were airbrushed on.
My problem with The Cut’s post is the same problem I have with magazines like Cosmo and Vogue, who often celebrate white women with cornrows, and Timberland boots as “the newest trend,” while at the same time disregarding Black people in the editor’s room. It’s the complete lack of respect, the complete lack of homage being paid to the creators of the very things that they detest in or on Black people, and love on women like Kylie Jenner.
And we just ain’t buyin’ it. Literally.