Why Black Men Tend To Be Fashion Kings

By NPR Staff

December 31, 2012

For many, style is much deeper than articles of clothing; it's a statement of identity. Black men have a unique relationship with fashion, one that can be traced all the way back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

Monica L. Miller, the author of Slaves to Fashion: Black Dandyism and the Styling of Black Diasporic Identity, spoke with Tell Me More's Michel Martin about the past, present and future of black men's fashion.

Miller, an associate professor of English at Barnard College, explains that African-American men have used style as a way to challenge stereotypes about who they are. "Sometimes the well-dressed black man coming down the street is asking you to look and think."

Victor Holliday, associate producer of on-air fundraising at NPR and one of the resident kings of style, tells Martin that he learned about the importance of fashion at an early age. "When I was 5 years old, I knew exactly how I was going to look," he says. "And that was the year I got my first trench coat and my top hat."

Holliday's style icon is his father, who taught him that the main object of dressing up is winning respect. "Because as you present yourself seriously, people tend to take you seriously."

Holliday is one of the men featured in Tell Me More's Kings of Style slideshow.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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