Wakanda Forever: Mud Cloth

Photos by Rayvon Pollard

Photos by Rayvon Pollard

Like I'd mentioned a few weeks ago, everything is cyclical and we're right back in the 90s. I love it! Whenever the infamous question is asked, "If you could travel back in time to any era, what would it be?" because there are so few options for people of color that were actually safe and enjoyable times, my answer most times is being an adult in the 90s without the gang violence. My dream has come true. We're in a Black Renaissance that feels so much like it did when I was a kid growing up in the 90s. There's a resurgence of Black television shows and movies (including my own and ones starring my friends). Entrepreneurship and being a self starter is at all time high. We're seeing designers like Carl Jones and collections like Cross Colours back at retail with a fresh perspective while still keeping in mind its aesthetic and roots in color and messaging. 

One of the things I absolutely loved during my childhood and was largely responsible for shaping the way I see myself in a world that otherwise sees me as dangerous, lazy and threatening, is those positive messages of Black pride that were continuously reinforced in various ways. Clothing being one of them. I attended elementary schools that regularly encouraged us to wear Kente and other Afrocentric attire. I had a matching set of suspenders and a kufi that I wore just about every week to express my own pride. 

"For the past year, I've been playing with mud cloth, using the pieces for apparel - mainly ponchos and open coats.  I wanted something rustic, creative and durable enough to be worn daily.  And unique enough to squeal quietly to myself as I throw it on and go.  Turns out, the weight, thickness and texture of mud cloth is perfect for outerwear.  No, it's not suitable for rain, snow or below 65-degree weather but what's great about that is, none of those things apply to me or the rest of us fine, funky L.A. residents."

Photos by Theo Macabeo

Photos by Theo Macabeo

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With the anticipation and release of Black Panther, we're seeing the same! If you're like me, you and your people were meticulously planning your Afro-Futuristic looks for opening night that would surely make Ruth Carter's chest swell with pride.  

I'd been thinking about what I was going to wear myself for months. The original plan was to do a look similar to T'Challa's suit and silk scarf combo that he wore when addressing the U.N., but because of the weight I'd gained over the past year, I wasn't able to fit any of my suits. 

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So, one day I was scrolling through Instagram like we all do and saw that friend Natalie Harris of The Tiny Closet had done an entire collection of beautiful mud cloth ponchos. Because she's a womenswear design who hand makes all of her pieces, I hesitated, but decided to DM her on a whim and asked if she'd be open to doing a custom mens mud cloth jacket for me. She was more than happy to do so and got started immediately! Needless to say, I'm SO happy with the results. I wore it opening night at one of the Black theater buy outs that my friend Ashley organized and got compliments on it the entire night. The piece is just as functional as it is stylist. It's warm and provides complete coverage on cool nights here in LA. It's also extremely comfortable. 

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