Jidenna brought the vibes and a word to the the the inaugural ESSENCE Best in Black Fashion Awards in New York City.
The Nigerian-American entertainer turned the energy up to the max as he hit the stage mid-way through the evening perform two cuts from his new album, 85 To Africa. Dressed head-to-toe in African designers, Jidenna also made it a point to deliver a clear message to his Hollywood peers about the importance of using their influential platforms as style icons to advocate for Black fashion designers. In addition to calling for more Black celebrities to wear Black designers on the red carpet more frequently, he also challenged the designers to be more intentional about manufacturing their lines in Africa.
“For the designers in this building, at one point—at some point–in this generation, we also have to manufacture our clothes in Africa,” he said. “It’s not going to happen in the U.S., more than likely; it’s a service-based economy. If it does, great, and if it is manufactured here, make sure it’s at a Black textile spot, but those really don’t exist. And in Africa, they are lacking. So this is what my hope is for all of us in this room that we can make that pact moving forward for future generations. So that when [we] walk that red carpet, we know that we own it from head, to toe.”
In a room filled with both those who have paved the way for Black excellence in fashion like Pat Cleveland and Bethann Hardison, to those who are carrying the torch while blazing trails of their own like Fe Noel and Zerina Akers, Jidenna’s words perfectly summed up the purpose behind the iconic evening.