On September 14, 2020, Carmelo Anthony presented his Propel SS21 collection “A Black Future”, the debut collection from his STAYME70 Propel program.  For the collection, Anthony selected seven Black designers and design groups for the inaugural class of Propel SS21 in an effort to use his platform to spotlight Black creatives. “I’ve been designing with the Jordan brand for over 10 years. So now it’s time for me to step outside the box and be creative and really figure out what works for me,” Anthony told ESSENCE.

The contributing designers consisted of Barriers Worldwide, DIEM, The Brooklyn Circus, Demestik, Ghetto Gastro, TIER, and Shakira Jovanni, all sharing a commonality to shift the culture and envision the future of the Black movement through fashion.

The 3-D virtual runway show live-streamed via Anthony’s STAYME70 website and CFDA 360’s runway, commencing with a short film of the creative process for the show and featuring Anthony and all of the designers. Anthony poses the question “What is the future? What is the future for us”, noting that we as Black curators are the culture and the creators of cool. 

Throughout the film the shots pan in and out of designers and historical film of Black movements as they speak on their “why” and how significant Black people and Black culture are over a heart-pounding beat. “The challenge in being Black is you’re always Black in relation to white culture or mainstream or whatever that is,” says Ouigi Theodore, the creative director, cultural connector, and lead curator of The Brooklyn Circus. The designers further acknowledge how much is taken from Black people and Black culture and that this movement is not just a moment in time, but is forever.

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The 3-D renderings emerge upon an opaque background featuring garments designed by each collective. Each of the hoodies, long-sleeve t-shirts, and crewneck sweatshirts focuses on the future of blackness through the lens of the designers, blaring words like “revolt”, “revolution is not a one-time thing”, “strength”, and “established”, amongst others. The imagery highlights different aspects of the Black movement and culture, showcasing themes like knowing thyself, freedom, Black currency, growth, strength, and calmness. “From a creative standpoint I wanted these designers to come together and design what we think our Black Future looks like,” concluded Anthony.

The collection is now available at StayMe70.com.

Interview completed by Nandi Howard