Of Another Fashion

An alternative archive of the not-quite-hidden but too often ignored fashion histories of U.S. women of color

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This is a photo of my mother in 1987 as a college student in Kiev. A global nomad, she grew up in Nepal, lived in Russia and other parts of Europe before settling down and raising a family in the U.S. (where she moved in 1989). Her unique style has always involved clothing and accesories she collected from traveling.

In this picture, she is wearing a thick handwoven sweater from Nepal, the kind sold by locals for the Himalayan climate, but it definitely served its purpose in the Russian winter! The shoes are from Berlin, the red cotton scarf is Tibetan, and the pants are also from Nepal. As a college student with a tight budget, she managed to be resourceful and fashionable at once, adapting cheap items she could buy back home for western styles (i.e. the classic tight pants/baggy sweater 80s trend in this picture). Her style has always been unique yet comfortable and practical, as you can see with this outfit.

Submitted by Rebecca John (Ithaca, NY).

This woman - displaying swagger before it became a trendy term! - is a model in a fashion show at the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) in Tallahassee (ca 1985).

Credit: State Library and Archives of Florida; The Deborah Thomas Collection

This is a photo of my mother, Bonnie Sterritt, in the summer of 1981.  Born in Burma, and then raised in England, she moved to America with my father a year or two before this photo was taken at an outdoor wedding reception in Aiken, South Carolina.  I love my fashionable brown mother, unable to hide her feelings about the Budweiser in her hand.

Submitted by Merrill Sterritt (Brooklyn, NY).

A short clip of the San Diego History Center’s latest exhibition, "Portrait of a Proud Community: Norman Baynard’s Logan Heights, 1939-1985." It’s an amazing photo exhibition of a Black community in San Diego, California that’s being co-created with the public. Sound familiar?

Elizabeth Fabro Afroilan at dinner on the cruise ship SS Azure Seas in a tiara and frock, 1983.

Many thanks to Valerie Afroilan for sharing this photo of her beautiful mom.

This is one of my favorite photographs from Margaret Wood’s Native American Fashion: Modern Adaptations of Traditional Designs (Van Nostrand Reinhold Company, 1981). Here, the model is wearing a modern adaptation of a 19th century Navajo “Bil” or “Tilma” dress traditionally made of woven wool material.

Elizabeth Fabro Afroilan, the gorgeous mother of our very own research assistant for this project Valerie Afroilan, on a cruise aboard the SS Ocean Independence in 1980.