To start, over the next eight months I’ll be in the midst of completing my Master’s Research Project which I’ve titled “Fitting In: Black Style in the Blogosphere.” Maybe it’s because I’ve typed and read that title so many times but I’m not sure I like it anymore. Anyway…
The following is the introduction of my Master’s Research Project Proposal and I think it explains my topic and overarching research question pretty well:
“The rise of the fashion blog, beginning in early 21st century, signaled a drastic shift in the modes in which individuals participated, experienced and viewed fashion (Rocamora, 407). The topic of this Master’s Research Project (MRP) is notions of blackness as expressed through representation in fashion-related imagery. This creative project will examine how social media and online media publications such as “street style”, “style diary” and “fashion” blogs, have been instrumental in shaping and voicing contemporary expressions of blackness as it is related to fashion. The purpose of this creative research project is to investigate how and why these blogs have allowed for a wide array of emerging and established fashion figures, ranging from stylists, writers, designers, models among others, to redefine sartorial representations of black identity. Whether intentional or not, blogs of this nature put forth an ethos that challenges the predominant narratives of blackness that exist in fashion, most notably the black subject as the Other or as non-existent. The overarching research question is the following:
Why do “street style”, “style diary” and “fashion” blogs created by individuals of African descent bring forth contemporary notions of blackness that subvert the predominant representations of the black subject in fashion-related imagery?
By answering this larger question, this project will determine how blackness and in turn post-blackness is exhibited in these blogs, how these blogs and their respective bloggers are situated within the mainstream fashion discourse, and whether or not they signal the “democratization” of fashion. Arguably, these blogs are a means by which individuals of African descent have reclaimed black identity and are indicative of the advancement of “black style.”
The term “black style” is nuanced and monolithic but as Carol Tulloch explains it can be broadly defined as “… the dress culture of people of African descent” (Tulloch, 11). A vast array of research has been conducted on this topic. Fashion theorists and writers like Tulloch, Gwendolyn O’Neal, Joanne B. Eicher and Van Dyk Lewis have written extensively about the convergence of blackness and fashion. This convergence has yet to be considered within the context of the blogosphere and the widespread popularity of social media and online media publications in the 21st century.
Topics in relation to “fashion-themed” blogs (Pham, 11) are an emerging area of research in the field of fashion with limited academic scholarship. My assertion is that the contextual translations of black style into the blogosphere, which is exemplified by the blogs (and bloggers) that are subjects of my research, signal the progression of this discourse. My MRP will articulate that these blogs are an intersection for the (re)identification of the black subject and visualizations of black style.”
 Can also be referred to as “black fashion.”
As I briefly explained in the “About me and on black style” page, I will be creating and curating an online exhibition that showcases black style in the blogosphere. To begin, I will be conducting case studies on six blogs that exemplify new representations of black identity in fashion and signal the progression of black style. I hope to conduct interviews with each of the bloggers. Content for the exhibition will come three sources; the first being the interview responses. These responses will be disseminated throughout the online exhibition. Secondly, I will be conducting visual analyses of images found on each on the blogs and I’ll will ask that the bloggers produce images to be used solely for this exhibition. Lastly, I will be contributing original street style photographs of black style in Canada. These images will originate from locations that are densely populated and have high concentrations of individuals of African decent. These will include the Greater Toronto Area and Montrèal, Québec.
on black style is meant to be a creative process journal/blog for this project. I’m not sure what the end result will be but I hope to include (almost) every part of my research journey. I’ve set up a Twitter account which will basically tweet posts from this blog for now. You can follow me on my personal Twitter as well. I’ve chosen to present my creative process journal in the form of a blog because of the nature of my subject matter for this project as a whole. In other words, since I am researching fashion blogging I decided to blog myself. This will allow me to engage with the medium I am examining directly and to further understand the process a blogger might go through to put together their blog.
Rocamora, Agnès. “Personal Fashion Blogs: Screens and Mirrors in Digital Self Portraits.” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 15:4 (2011) 407-424. Print.
Pham, Minh-Ha T. “Blog Ambition: Fashion, Feelings, and the Political Economy of the Digital Raced Body” Camera Obscura: Feminism, Culture, and Media Studies. 26.1 (2011): 1 – 37. Print.
Tulloch, Carol ed., Black Style. London UK: V&A Publications. 2004. Print
Tulloch, Carol. “Style-Fashion-Dress: From Black to Post-Black” Fashion Theory: The Journal of Dress, Body and Culture. 14.3 (2010): 273-304. Print.