Collective Conversations About the African American Contribution to the Footwear Industry


Some might say its long overdue. Some might say its about time. And others are anxious, like me, to have a seat at this table. 

The African American Experience has always encompassed a view through the looking glass of our everyday lives. How we adapt to our surroundings in style, albeit harsh living environments or the ever-touchy subject of diversity in the workplace. Spending power, inventions, and influence, we create a powerful impact.

I am looking forward to this event because there will be that question:

“how come there are so few African Americans in fashion?”

And to that I would love to answer:

 – we have always been here.

Every Jordan that made the cut, got our stamp of approval. Every Polo by Ralph Lauren collection from 1992 – 2001 had our “ok” to proceed to Macy’s merch plan. Every time Timberland reviewed the end-of-year results, their eyes were on the performance at Jimmy Jazz, Modell’s or other inner-city shoe stores. Every time the fashion category “urban” could not be replaced by any other word – that was but a small representation of the African American contribution to fashion and footwear. 

This forum will be a celebration of the African American contribution to the footwear industry will be held at the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, DC. The event is in partnership with D’Waayne Edwards of PENSOLE Footwear Academy and the FDRA.

The date is set for February 20, 2019. I hope that this will be the first inaugural collective conversation for many years to come as it is an important milestone in our participation in this industry. Last-Report will be there with a full schedule to keep you abreast of the daily happenings and updates pre and post.

For more information please contact:

Tanita Gray

Editor In-Chief, Publisher and Founder of Tanita S. Gray is a footwear, accessory and apparel designer/developer by day - writer and content architect by night. With over 16 years experience in the fashion industry, you can find her teaching, talking about the benefits of CBD, drawing thumbnails, writing in her journal, giving her husband & children enormous hugs or eating french fries.

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