CHAPTER 9. BLACK TO THE BEGINNING
by Jeremy Danté
the bones that built this site are black. america, as i know it- is black. art is black. beauty, is black. and while many variations exist as means of texturizing contrast between light and dark- the beginning is now and will forever be black. inspired, single handedly by the editorial shoot of steven meisel featuring sessilee lopez, this site was born. that issue, the 2008 all black edition of italian vogue is the best selling issue of vogue, of all time. the only issue in the publishing history of conde nast to go to re-print. affectionately, i was drawn to sessilee. cosmically, i was drawn to her. it was as if the energy was elevated into the universe, leading me into a new level of life that i had never anticipated beforehand. living in my home of the bay area, within the northern calfornia region, just outside of san francisco- it was me, my laptop and a vision.
steadily, i began to understand, study and analyze the fashion industry. having already been previously engaged in musical media for many more years prior; the internet was affecting the influence of music and the concept of visual sounds was running rampant. i seen this. looking for something new, something that drives information and bridges the gap- i started to write about fashion. understanding that there was no go-to source for ‘black fashion’, for lack of better articulation, in the digital blogosphere at that time. i didn’t so much like the idea of segregation that lived in the concept and titling of ‘black fashion’ either. so, i started to craft the content with a focus on ethnic models, shit- the only fashion we knew was from rap lyrics. we seen kim and foxy rocking chanel, we seen mary donning fendi sunglasses and noticed the versace shirts on the backs of tupac shakur and later, B.I.G. as i started to build into this direction, the narrative grew, my voice amplified- the response started to grow and quickly. the international audience responded in no time at all, many industry heads started to tap into it. because of my ‘fashion from concentrate’ direction- many thought i lived in new york city. my network continued to grow in that region, and the work was done off-site.
many of the models i profiled became friends of the site, and from editorial fashion spreads to runway review, jeremydanté.com became a vital source of fashion media, with a cultured and ethnic voice. there was no need to call it black fashion, or to highlight things in an ostentatious way- i just did it. spoke about it, represented it. i spoke on the dimension in which i know style. i highlighted issues, and praised the moments of glory that uplift our culture. and that is what i’ve been doing since then. with the issues of police brutality crashing into headlines, daily- we must understand that the misrepresentation of our people is nothing new. during the journey of this site, i have taken every opportunity to uplift and re-appropriate in as many ways as i could. maintaining a luxury appeal, i wanted us to be able to have a space where we would be credited for our immeasurable influence of beauty and regality.
merging aspects of music into the fashion dialogue, i was able to get the attention of kanye west and MTV, a blessing of visibility, as much of the work done here is for culture and those outlets. high-end hip-hop, as kanye describes, was the perfect description of the content. initially, i thought i would be a silent partner, contributing only dialogue in a lonely web space for myself. but others joined the conversation in over 137 countries around the world. when i finally relocated to new york city, after going back and fourth with my choice to do so, over a six year period- my goal was to enter into the industry with the same tenacity and purified power of understanding that, yes, we are under represented. upon my relocation, after being unhappy with my job at a small fashion directory company, i called sessilee. i told her that i needed to get out. she said, “i can make a call” – and she did. while much of my segue into the industry was stressful- i would not change any of the experience. i think that many aspects of change and growth are found in struggle. i knew who i was before i got to new york city, i’ve said that many times and will always remind you.
so, to be met with unfavorable or challenged circumstance- boo, i’ve been there, i’ve done that. no struggle will knock the course- it will only lead to more enlightened psychological frame work. and let’s be clear- i am never one to lead with misinformation, lack of truth or fear- ever. i am very grateful for all opportunities i have come across and had the blessing to be a part of. while i recognize that all things are temporary, my mission remains intact. this chapter, dedicated to the work for culture i have done on this site, is a reminder of where we’ve been together. a checkpoint; we are not done- there is more work to be done. further barriers are left unbroken. we are culture. there is no barrier strong enough to block our light, or lock into our destiny as purely and effortlessly as we will and do, each and every day.
we define the beauty in which we derive, because we’ve lived it. we are that beauty, and represented in that is no need for promotion within our own community. it’s the world that exists outside of us that seems to forget. but someone elses inability to properly value us is not an actual indication of said value. here, black culture and most ethnic beauty is and will always be celebrated. here, we have remained committed to bridging the gap of underrepresentation in media, and have pushed the boundaries of those limitations to create a new era for ourselves. that work, will never stop. and even when we achieve those goals- let us remember, that is when the real work begins. because to become a legend is step one, and to maintain that is a whole other ball game, thus the lifetime of dedication called upon us to carry out that work. while many may look past the media-hybrid social work we are doing- these aspects of media are still intended to represent the people, the world around us. and our beauty, our culture will never be ignored. as long as we continue to address it, and represent it thoroughly, we won’t be deterred. to be beautiful is an inner quality, to approach all things purely and resourcefully, articulately- are skills. let’s continue to do that work and represent the beauty we’ve always known, each and everyday, with each other and to inform those unaware.
dedicated to the many models, editors and writers
who actively represent our culture each and everyday,
in the world of fashion, and in all areas of media