“I hear my people, but I don’t see my people.”
This was the proverbial tune of Black fashion Twitter’s/X’s reaction to a recent collaboration between Aimé Leon Dore and Franck Pellegrino. The bespoke capsule collection debuted on Nov. 16, displaying indisputable inspiration from the baggy, fatigued fittings associated with late ’90s/early aughts-era urban streetwear.
The collection offers patrons a selection of oversized baseball jerseys, embroidered snapbacks, letterman-esque leather jackets and various other bits and bobs. Prices range from $20 for pencils to $3,000 for a jacket.
Created by Theodore “Teddy” Santis, Aimé Leon Dore has been a bridge between the once-rebellious ethos of streetwear and the booming genre of upscale athleisure since its launch in 2014. Present day, ALD is best known amongst laypersons for Instagramable artesian lattes crafted in their instore cafes in New York and London, as well as their wide-spanning queues of customers decked out in the finest of high-end athleisure and streetwear stylings, a crash course in refined SoHo hype beast culture.
The notoriety doesn’t end there, as the brand is known amongst fans and critics alike for drawing upon various elements of Black streetwear culture. There is debate on whether this falls under the umbrella of sartorial homage or profitable appropriation, but the space the brand occupies in the world of ultramodern street style cannot be ignored.
Stylistic references are not their solitary infraction, as these urban fashion nods have become accepted or at least tolerated in most spaces. Rather, it was the casting of their latest collaboration that drew pause. The lack of Black models in pieces so clearly inspired by our aesthetic read as jarring to many and downright silly to others.
“They look like teachers dressing up as their students,” shared one X user.
“I hope every nonblack person knows they look like this when y’all try to dress like us,” shared another.
Even those who liked the pieces felt conflicted in wholly praising the collaboration.
“Nice pieces but the models are making me cringe,” shared one user.
“Casting isn’t great, but that NY Jersey goes hard,” wrote another.
And others, well they took a more direct approach.
“Where the n***** at?”
Crassness aside, they make a good point. When so much of your brand perception relies on good faith assumptions that you are operating from a place of genuine inspiration, excluding the originators seems sloppy at best and deliberate at worst.