During the first panel to kick off ESSENCE Fashion House, founder of the beloved T.a. boutique, Telsha Anderson, along with stylist and Aliette founder, Jason Rembert joined influential fashion journalist Marjon Carlos for a discussion around Black luxury. On the surface, luxury within the fashion industry is often synonymous with glamour and expensive price tags, but this unique meeting of the minds broke down the current definition and how perspective plays a part in creating different displays of luxury.
Telsha Anderson opened her retail store in NYC last summer and since then, the beautifully curated shop has become a go-to place for the city’s coolest crowd. Within the store, you’ll find rare brands that aren’t carried in any other retailer, along with aesthetics galore. Telsha’s keen eye and skillset for curating unique assortments of designs, the store is carving its’ own lane for a new kind of luxury. “Luxury is an outlook,” Anderson said during the panel. “It can be a shirt with the whole back out, or a turtle neck that has an extra layer.”
The panel’s conversation also reinforced the notion that our perspectives and our personal interpretations are what truly define what luxury means to us. Within traditionally white-dominated spaces, luxury may often look one way, but that doesn’t mean it’s the only— that’s just the system at work. For decades, Black and brown communities have proudly embraced and set the trend of elevated, luxurious style; whether dripped in gold accessories, dressed in extravagant head wraps, or using afrocentric art to accentuate our homes. The industry’s system deemed our luxuries as ‘urban’ to downplay and disassociate them from what they sold as luxury. But, with today’s trendsetters no longer seeking validation from white institutions or white platforms as the lone gateway to elevation. “Luxury was more about clout,” Jason noted. “But now, it’s defined by the autonomy of your brand and the stories you are telling.”
The panelists also weighed in on the importance of recognizing that as the industry plays catch up, Black professionals are building their own tables to show that there is luxury within our own community. “Black luxury is not a new thing,” Carlos noted. “We’re true to this, not new to this.”
Later on in the conversation, Rembert reflected on his job as a stylist and how he has no problem going the extra mile for young designers that may not have the funds yet. He also emphasized the importance of not being the only one at the table and encouraged the Black creatives in fashion to celebrate each other more often. “If my friend posted some fire styling, I’m reposting it,” he continued. “If another friend designed something crazy or won an award, I’m reposting it. Your win is our win.”
Aside from the physical elements of luxury, this panel made it clear that there are also non-physical elements that can be defined as luxury – unity, community, support, and selflessness. It is the collective vision and interest that makes something luxurious. Check out a clip from the pane in the video above and be sure to tune in to ESSENCE Fashion House tonight at 7PM EST on ESSENCE Studios to see the full conversation and so much more.