From left to right: Cameron Shaw, Candace Reels, Shavonne C., Kadeem Pilgrim.                   Photo credit: Betti Halsell

Fashion is a visually stimulated message; materials woven together and enhanced by the host who wishes to speak without words. Style of dress is used to typically represent status, politics, and generational views. Each era shedding and gaining beliefs, showing the dawn of a new mindset through a new hemline, and wearing their modern fabrication of the truth. Fashion Without Prejudice was a successful conference held at the California African American Museum in honor of the Cross Colour exhibit. It carefully explored today’s story of the armor worn to combat gender and racial discrimination. On Thursday, January 30, charismatic leaders in intersectional feminism, technology, music, and fashion activism came together to discuss the wind of change that they project in their style and design. The panelist Candace Reels, Shavonne C., and Kadeem Pilgrim all shared their prevailing ideology on how fashion used to declare equality and social justice within this day and age.

California African American Museum honored the iconic fashion brand Cross Colours with a full exhibit, “Cross Colours: Black Fashion in the 20th Century.” It will be available for showing until August 23, 2020. The spacious visual walkthrough adequately depicts the history and influence Cross Colours developed in the early 1990s. Cross Colours used their Afrocentric boldness to create a social wave that carried out the direct message of “Clothing without Prejudice.” They were pioneers in socially conscious fashion, Cross Colours radiated a different awareness than any other fashion brand that was around. They designed a platform for clothes to speak louder than the person wearing them.

On Thursday, January 30, Cameron Shaw, the deputy director and chief curator at C.A.A.M, led a discussion on the power of the fashion aesthetic in today’s social environment. The panelist chosen contributed their creative works that brought social change much like the Cross Colour brand. Starting with Reels, who spoke on the topic of intersectional feminism and ways of expression through vibrant color and statement tee-shirts. Reels created the Female Collective, which is a platform to “help women come together, tell their unique stories and feel empowered to tackle the missions that matter most to them.” She lives in bold color and looks to bring change in the same hues. With her boldly remarked tee shirts, she started multiple movements behind shirts statements like “Feminist Fight Club” and “Pussy Grabs back.” That shirt raised over 10,000 dollars for the charity non-profit, RAINN.

The following panelist who spoke was Shavonne C., a major player in the tech world with an unapologetic style and straightforward narrative. Standing out for pioneering roles as a Black woman holding superior titles in the tech world, she founded Magic in her Melanin. With this platform, she looks to open a space for other women of color to be represented in male-dominated careers such as technology; Shavonne wants to grow better representation within the tech world to reflect genuine equality in superior roles. At the event, she spoke authentically about her journey.  It is to “Have a seat at the table” where they are making decisions about what we buy as consumers. The Mission for Magic in her Melanin is to “focus on elevating the stories of women of color and to bridge the gap between creatives of color in the tech industry.”

Shavonne C. at Cross Colours Exhibit. Photo Credit: Betti Halsell

Shavonne expressed embracing every part of the Black woman and looks to uphold the natural aesthetic no matter what domain or environment she’s in. As a versatile creative, she honors Black culture and heritage through her music as well. With songs like “4c” and “SITH” she uses the everyday culture aesthetic of African American culture in the music videos. Showcasing the class and elegance black people carry daily.

Lastly, the floor opened to Pilgrim, the brand marketing manager for Cross Colours. He oversees creative projects for Cross Colours that strengthens the harmonious voice of social awareness and fashion. One project that he opened about is the collaboration of Cross Colours and support for Black colleges. He shared that African American colleges are heavily underfunded. Unequal national funding to HBCUs has been historically prominent for decades. He shared that multiple Black universities fail to receive the required grants for research and general operation. Cross Colours has responded promptly to that call for action with Pilgrim’s guided hand to build collections that will support and encourage more resources for African American colleges.

Kadeem Pilgrim at the Cross Colours Exhibit. Photo Credit: Betti Halsell

After each panelist shared their impact on social awareness through apparel and style, the floor opened to the audience for questions and answers. Through this presentation, fashion attained an increased significance. What is typically worn can accurately express social unity and generational breakthroughs. These panelists have shown a movement in Fashion. This conference at the California African American Museum honored the Cross Colour exhibit. It showcased the nourishment of the silent voice found in style and apparel. It explored the impact of modern armor. Leaders in multiple realms and walks of life are using clothing and unapologetic narratives to communicate the wave of change needed to advance as a society. The panelists all shared their continuous narrative to inspire those who wish to wear their belief for effective change on their sleeve.