Anna Birk, Executive Editor
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Cierra Boyd was one of the founders of The Scene magazine at Ohio University. Today, that magazine has become the first mass-print fashion magazine on campus and is known as VARIANT. Boyd has gone on to create a sustainable fashion brand with nearly 50,000 followers on Instagram. She has styled celebrities such as Cardi B and been featured on HBO’s show, The Hype. Her fashion brand boasts creativity by creating corsets, dresses and other designs out of tennis shoes.
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Rodman was pivotal for his time with his outfits often gaining more hype than his basketball career, even though he is one of the most successful rebounders in the NBA. He gained traction as a style icon because of his rainbow colored hair, tattooed and pierced body and fashion sense. Rodman was often sporting looks that hadn’t been seen before in the 1990s, let alone for pro-basketball players.
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Nina Chanel Abney
VARIANT wants to draw attention to Abney’s recent body of work entitled Big Butch Synergy and Big Butch Energy. The art celebrates expressions of Black masculine women and those who resist normative gender roles. She explores race, gender, pop culture, homophobia and politics in her work. Abney will debut the artwork as large-scale paintings that all teem with her.
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Symone was the season 13 winner of the show RuPaul’s Drag Race. She proves that Black identity, glamor and charisma can fit unapologetically in one package. Symone has also broken into the fashion world by breaking gender norms, making a career for herself that extends far beyond drag race.
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Tyler, the Creator
Tyler, the Creator is one of the most successful rappers and singers of our generation. Tyler, the Creator is a genre bending artist and advocates for other artists who push the genre binary: he sees that rap deserves to be celebrated outside of its perceived limit. He draws awareness to the fact that many awards shows often snub Black artists by putting their work into only rap and R&B categories, though they may better fit elsewhere. His albums feature incredible storytelling with instrumental and synthesized influences.
No matter what they create, their creations will not receive the same amount of coverage or representation that they deserve.
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Jerry Lorenzo, creator of the brand, Fear of God, creates and showcases streetwear in a new light. The brand offers timeless, luxury, and staple items. The brand often features Black models. Lorenzo has styled other artists such as Justin Bieber. Fear of God and the sister company, Essentials, cater to those with darker complexions to highlight a broad range of skin tones.
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Kerby Raymond was the first Black American designer to show during Paris Couture week. Raymond’s brand, Pyer Moss, offers vibrantly colored fabrics with beautifully crafted textile designs. The brand, founded in 2013, was designed to showcase activism and Black heritage.
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Ri Turner and Sunset Tim
Ri Turner is the voice behind the For the Healthy Hoes podcast. The podcast talks about spirituality and the pressures that society places on us in different aspects of life. The podcast emphasizes individuality, taking life slow and figuring things out for yourself. Listen to the podcast here.
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Monet McMichael is a breath of fresh air to those of us online and on TikTok. Her content on TikTok ranges from “Get Ready With Me,” to taking us into her waxing routine, to going to the gym with her parents. McMichael offers a real look into a young 20-something’s life and makes those on the other side of the camera feel welcome. McMichael is Puerto Rican and Black and Her content is loved because she helps to provide Black girls and women with another role model who’s also seen as someone who’s still “normal.”
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Jackie Aina is a content creator and beauty influencer. Aina offers a very real look into her lifestyle by offering business advice and life advice. She teaches women that luxury isn’t out of the realm of possibility, and that luxury looks different for everyone. Aina shows that Black excellence doesn’t need to be a big production but that it can be found in little things too; Black excellence is everywhere. She talks about self care and how important it is to value yourself (and occasionally splurge on yourself too).
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Ashlee Haze is one of the most prolific poets of our generation. She has earned the title “Big 30” because she gets a perfect 30 score nearly every time she competes in a poetry slam. Her poetry often focuses on Black representation in the media and you can find VARIANT’s favorite poem here: Ashlee Haze – For Colored Girls (The Missy Elliott Poem)
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Jade Fox is a YouTuber that focuses on styling for androgynous or masc presenting people. She has worked with Calvin Klein and Netflix to SquareSpace and Bumble and sparks conversations about activism and being Black. Fox also sparks conversations about intersectionality by being a Black, queer creative and looks at queerness in fashion. One of VARIANT’s favorite videos of Fox’s is: How to Minimize Your Chest Size Instantly // NO Sports Bras!
Afrofuturism is a cultural aesthetic, a philosophy of science and history, and these figures embody the beauty of being Black and the cultural significance of Afrofuturism. While Black History Month is coming to a close, it’s important to celebrate Black culture throughout the year and support Black owned businesses and creatives.