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FIT’s Elena Romero and Elizabeth Way celebrate 50 years of hip-hop fashion

Elena Romero and Elizabeth Way join Washington Post Live on Thursday, March 16. (Video: The Washington Post)

The Museum at the Fashion Institute of Technology is examining the evolution of hip-hop style with its latest exhibit, “Fresh, Fly, and Fabulous.” Co-curators Elena Romero and Elizabeth Way join Washington Post Live to discuss how hip-hop and fashion gave rise to new forms of creative expression for Black and Brown youth.

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“I covered this market really at the point where we saw it transition from being a mom-and-pop regional specialty store business to being a department store and international business worldwide. We were able to see that by 2002 this had become a $58 billion-dollar industry, and so the industry overall has quite a benefit from it. Having celebrities move from just endorsers to actually creating their own lines.” – Elena Romero (Video: Washington Post Live)
“Rap music has always been about kind of documenting what’s happening at the moment, and the clothes reflect that as well. So, it’s the creativity of Black and Brown communities who mainstream society is doing their best at this time, some might argue still doing their best, to make them seem invisible. So through their style, through their art, they’re making themselves visible.” – Elizabeth Way (Video: Washington Post Live)
“A lot of it is about being noticed. This idea of ‘Sunday best,’ or being ‘so fresh and so clean,’ the idea of being made sure to be respected. In many ways, the way we dress is how people identify what tribe we belong to, and if we’re accepted in one particular space or another.” – Elena Romero (Video: Washington Post Live)
“Appropriating hip-hop style, it really started to take off in the 1990s when hip-hop became mainstream, when hip-hop was popular culture, especially for youth… What’s important for us, for Elena and I, is that we show where these trends came from. We want to honor the designers, the kids, all of this creative energy.” – Elizabeth Way (Video: Washington Post Live)

Elena Romero

Assistant Chairperson, Marketing Communications, FIT

Elizabeth Way

Associate Curator of Costume, The Museum at FIT