On September 15, Miko Underwood presented her Oak & Acorn—Only for the Rebelles 2021 season-less collection, Red, White and Indigo, the untold history of American denim. The collection paints a vivid picture through its exploration of denim as a cultural, social and political icon in American history.
The showcase opened to a stark blue sky and mountain view with audio playing from the late and legendary actor Chadwick Boseman’s 2018 Howard University commencement speech: “Purpose is an essential element of you. It is the reason you are on the planet at this particular time in history. Your very existence is wrapped up in the things you are here to fulfill. Remember the struggles along the way are only meant to shape you for your purpose. God says in Jeremiah I know the plans I have for you. Plans to prosper you and not harm you plans to give you hope and a future.”
The show took viewers down a timeline highlighting happenings in American history that are Black history—slavery (titled negro cloth), incarceration, sharecroppers, WWII women in shipyards and the aircraft industry, labor rights and civil rights. Each time period was accompanied by two or more looks that were inspired by looks from historical images. The collection featured functional yet fashionable garments, including harem pants, quilted pants and jackets, reverse denim jumpsuits, reconstructed hats, overalls, cinched trousers, head wraps, industrial gloves and short-sleeve shirts—all made with handwoven and hand-dyed indigo from West Africa, deadstock denim, hemp and recycled fibers. Select pieces in the collection displayed the words “rebelles,” “born free” and “free.”
In addition to the photos used to show the inspiration for each garment was video from protests and marches past and present. In those clips, phrases like “love Black lives like you love Black culture,” “we’re not trying to start a race war, we’re trying to end one” and “defend Black womanhood” were focal points.
At the commencement of the show, bold-colored sweatsuits were presented with the aforementioned words, as well as “sustainable,” “evolve,” “rebelle reborn,” and “manifest creation” as the all the models posed and gathered around Underwood.
Underwood’s goal with this collection is to unify and empower while prioritizing sustainability, function and purpose while paying homage to Black indigenous Americans and Africans for their contribution—past, present and future.
The collection will launch on Thursday, October 1, at 12 a.m. EDT.