May 22, 2023


Community Closet: A Celebration of Black Fashion 

Recent graduate, Sydney Reede, utilized her final semester at Duke to showcase her passion for the impact fashion has on society by creating and producing Community Closet, a celebration of fashion as a form of power and tool of resistance for Black people. Inspired by the publication Black Fashion Fair, Sydney began the project by creating a fashion magazine intended to “push for the success and discovery of up-and-coming Black-owned brands.” Sydney collaborated with the brands to include their clothing in the magazine, recruited models, styled photo shoots, and designed and created the magazine itself. 

Sydney was encouraged by her advisors to take Community Closet a step further, and organized a fashion show featuring fifteen Black-owned brands and local student designs. She coordinated the entire show herself from reserving the space and equipment for the show, to holding a model call and coordinating model selections with the brands, to organizing and running the rehearsals with the models and emcees.

Community Closet culminated into a two-day event including an exhibit and reception featuring the magazine on April 19, and a fashion show at the Bryan Center Plaza on April 20. Both the reception and fashion show were well attended by the Duke and greater Durham community. “It truly felt like a community event and showed how fashion can bring people together,” Sydney reflected. 

Sydney shared that projects like Community Closet are important to show how Black fashion has evolved throughout history in response to Black experiences: “Fashion gives Black people the opportunity to assert our presence in life and reclaim our agency and freedom through clothing.”

Post-graduation, Sydney hopes to expand upon her experience creating Community Closet as she embarks on an internship with Sandrine Charles Consulting, which is a creative agency and public relations firm for culturally-rooted fashion and lifestyle brands. She is excited to shadow those involved in the event planning and public relations industry, and hopes to potentially have her own creative agency someday. 

Community Closet was co-sponsored by the Department of Gender, Sexuality, and Feminism, and the Franklin Humanities Institute Social Practice Lab and Artistic Research Initiative supported by the Mellon Foundation.

Posted: May 23, 2023