Wear Black History

BLACK HISTORY
IS HAPPENING NOW

Music Is Black history. Black people across the diaspora defined American music. Their names, stories, and achievements deserve to be amplified and celebrated in more ways than one. Wear Black History is a limited edition collection inspired by six moments and figures in Black music history. Joy Miessi and Brandan “bmike” Odums designed nine custom pieces rooted in stories of the past, while shining light into the present and future.

You can enter for a chance to win select items from the collection in a one day online sweepstakes on February 26th, 2019. Just tap the "Enter for a chance to win" button for the garment of your choice.

the designers

- Photo by Ellius Grace

Joy Miessi

Joy Miessi is a visual artist, currently working in London. Specializing in illustration, Joy experiments with a range of traditional processes such as drawing, painting and collaging to produce mixed media pieces. Exploring socio-political themes from a personal perspective, Joy’s work takes the form of paperworks, clothing and paintings on cardboard. Their work explores themes of memory, intimacy, race and culture within the African diaspora, from a personal perspective.

Miessi is also particularly interested in how archiving is incorporated into their practice. Inspiration is drawn from past conversations, places and moments, from Kinshasa shop fronts to fleeting interactions and conversations. By archiving routines and cultural practices through their pieces, Miessi’s work exists to preserve memories and stories. Each individual piece documents and retells moments, creating a physical permanence to past experiences from the artists’ life.

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- Photo by Jonathan Mannion

Brandan "Bmike" Odums

Brandan “BMike” Odums is a New Orleans-based visual artist whose work embodies the political fervor of a new generation of Black American activists. Working predominantly with spray paint Odums wall-sized murals depict historical figures, contemporary creatives, and everyday people. In 2013 Odums created Project Be, a series of illegally produced murals of Black revolutionaries in the hurricane Katrina damaged Florida Housing Development in New Orleans' 9th ward.

After the NO Housing Authority shuttered the Development, Odums created Exhibit Be, a public art exhibition with work from more than 40 artists whose five story murals covered the facades of a dilapidated apartment complex and whose indoor installations and sculptures spoke to the institutional racial aggression which had led to the site’s unoccupied state. In 2016, Odums concluded the Be Trilogy with Studio Be a 36,000- square foot warehouse transformed into a gallery. Studio Be features “Ephemeral.Eternal,” Odums first solo exhibition of over a dozen original murals, several room-sized installations, and reconstructed murals salvaged from #ProjectBe. Studio Be is open to the public 4 days a week, and welcomes hundreds of visitors from near and far weekly.

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The Collection

Stream the music that inspired the collection

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The sacred music of survival

SACRED MUSIC OF SURVIVAL T-shirt by Brandan “bmike” Odums

SACRED MUSIC OF SURVIVAL T-shirt by Brandan “bmike” Odums

ABOUT THE MERCH
When you look over the entire course of Black music history, or Black history overall, survival is the thread that ties us together. Black people are constantly creating as a means of surviving, often under severely oppressive conditions. It’s through our music that we’re able to hold onto our history, learn from one another, and express our ability to transform struggle and survival into courage and creation. This portrait embodies the attitude of survival and blurs the lines of an interconnected theme throughout time.

- bmike

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1800’s African American sacred music has been an expression of faith and cultural tradition that has sustained people inside and outside of the church and brought hope for salvation and liberation to communities worldwide. The African American spiritual originated in the antebellum South and is the earliest form of African American music. Born out of the experiences of the enslaved, spirituals were based on Christian beliefs interpreted from an African American perspective. They were sung in worship and in times of individual and collective need providing comfort and resilience during difficult and challenging circumstances.

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The Chitlin

THE CHITLIN CIRCUIT Hoodie by Joy Miessi

ABOUT THE MERCH
A visual ode to the musicians who traveled from venue to venue, across state lines, navigating the entertainment industry in times of violent, racial segregation. This piece reflects a reimagined map of the Chitlin Circuit, referencing a handful of the venues that made up the circuit, where musicians such as Etta James and B.B. King had once performed in.

- Joy

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1900's - 1960's The Chitlin Circuit was a touring route of performance venues in segregated black communities across the South, East, and Midwest that hosted black musicians and entertainers and audiences during the era of segregation. The circuit got its name from these smaller, crowded juke joint venues that served soul food such as chitlins, catfish, and collard greens, among other dishes. The Chitlin Circuit played a central role in providing professional opportunities for black musicians and in developing their careers and building audiences for their music.

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The Chitlin

THE CHITLIN CIRCUIT T-shirt by Brandan “bmike” Odums

THE CHITLIN CIRCUIT T-shirt by Brandan “bmike” Odums

ABOUT THE MERCH
To me, it made so much sense that this was called the Chitlin Circuit. Eating chitlins, or the discarded, unwanted portions of a pig, represents the reality of Black communities often having make “something from nothing.” The Chitlin Circuit was a network of venues created by Black musicians and their community when they had nowhere to play. I wanted to draw this connection between eating chitlins and the Chitlin Circuit as a shared Black history of being given nothing and turning into something.

- bmike

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1900's - 1960's The Chitlin Circuit was a touring route of performance venues in segregated black communities across the South, East, and Midwest that hosted black musicians and entertainers and audiences during the era of segregation. The circuit got its name from these smaller, crowded juke joint venues that served soul food such as chitlins, catfish, and collard greens, among other dishes. The Chitlin Circuit played a central role in providing professional opportunities for black musicians and in developing their careers and building audiences for their music.

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The Harlem Cultural Festival

The Harlem Cultural Festival Pants by Joy Miessi

The Harlem Cultural Festival Pants by Joy Miessi

ABOUT THE MERCH
One thing that amazed me about this festival was that 300,000 people were in attendance and yet, there is virtually no documentation of the festival or the attendees who brought it to life. I found it so powerful, in this age of social media, that you simply just had to be there to have experienced it. I used this piece to create fiction portraits of the Black community that was in attendance of the Harlem Festival in 1969, to symbolize the multitude of people who were there. These attendees, being the only people who could give us a true window into this historic happening.

- Joy

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1969 The Harlem Cultural Festival was a series of music concerts held in Mount Morris Park during the summer of 1969. The festival was organized to promote unity and black pride after the turbulence of the preceding years which included the Watts Riots and the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Attended by 300,000 people, the Festival featured a who’s who of black music including BB King, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. The festival was filmed but with the footage never released, it’s been called “the most popular music festival you’ve never heard of.”

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The Harlem Cultural Festival

The Harlem Cultural Festival Pin by Brandan “bmike” Odums

Harlem Pin

The Harlem Cultural Festival Pin by Brandan “bmike” Odums

ABOUT THE MERCH
I loved the challenge of commemorating such a massively attended event through something as small as a pin. The design of the pin is a play on the original Harlem Cultural Festival logo. The cup is intentionally turned upside down with its contents spilling over: an interpretation of the the number of attendees who poured into this festival, the black crowd becoming a sea, as reflected in the pool of spilled liquid.

- bmike

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1969 The Harlem Cultural Festival was a series of music concerts held in Mount Morris Park during the summer of 1969. The festival was organized to promote unity and black pride after the turbulence of the preceding years which included the Watts Riots and the assassination of Malcolm X in 1965 and Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968. Attended by 300,000 people, the Festival featured a who’s who of black music including BB King, Gladys Knight, Nina Simone, Sly and the Family Stone and Stevie Wonder. The festival was filmed but with the footage never released, it’s been called “the most popular music festival you’ve never heard of.”

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Sister Rosetta Tharpe

The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe Long sleeve shirt by Joy Miessi

The Godmother of Rock & Roll: Sister Rosetta Tharpe Long sleeve shirt by Joy Miessi

ABOUT THE MERCH
Sister Rosetta Tharpe shook up a white, male dominated industry as a Black, queer woman, breaking many barriers throughout her music career. From merging the gospel genre into what would later become rock n roll, creating tracks that crossed the race charts, and turning musical performances into theatrical experiences, this piece celebrates her creativity in innovating sound in a time where a Black woman’s voice wasn’t heard. On the left sleeve, “Chorltonville” refers to the name that she gave to an abandoned rail station in Manchester, where she invited people to watch her perform from the other side of the platform, when she wasn’t allowed to play in traditional venues because of her race.

- Joy

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1915 - 1973 Sister Rosetta Tharpe was a singer, songwriter and guitarist and a pioneer in gospel and rock and roll who bridged the gap between sacred and secular music. She was a star in the 1930’s and 1940’s singing gospel music to the sounds her own accompaniment on the electric guitar. Her 1945 recording, “Strange Things Happening Everyday” is widely credited as the first gospel song to crossover to the popular music charts and became an early model for many rock and roll artists including Little Richard, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Elvis Presley.

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Latinx

THE LATINX ROOTS OF HIP HOP Messenger bag by Joy Miessi

THE LATINX ROOTS OF HIP HOP Messenger bag by Joy Miessi

ABOUT THE MERCH
During the design of this piece, I spent most of my time filling my studio with the sounds of The Fearless Four and Mellow Man Ace & Sen Dog, two key Afro-Latinx figures of hip hop. Listening to their music I drew inspiration from the artists’ abilities to cut, sample, scratch, and remixing of old tracks into new songs. From there, I decided to use the same process and create a visual remix that celebrates the cultures that played part in Hip Hop of the 1970’s to 1980’s, by merging together the Puerto Rican, Cuban, Pan African and American flag.

- Joy

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1980's Hip hop has always been viewed as a uniquely African-American art form and genre, but the culture was developed by Black and Latinx communities living together in the Bronx and outer boroughs where hip hop grew. The Latinx influence is especially prevalent in the original elements of hip hop culture, such as B-Boying or breakdancing, DJing, MCing, and graffiti. Afro Latinx hip hop pioneers include: The Fearless Four, who were the first hip-hop group to sign to a major label and Afro-Cuban brothers, Mellow Man Ace & Sen Dog, who shaped West Coast hip hop with Latinx influence.

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The Legend of Sylvester

The Legend of Sylvester Hat by Joy Miessi

The Legend of Sylvester Hat by Joy Miessi

ABOUT THE MERCH
This design is a celebration of Sylvester's gender fluidity and creative expression. A celebration of challenging binary notions through style and song. Sylvester helped redefine perceptions on what it meant to be a man, and did it with and admirable freeness and ease. This artwork honors Sylvester’s playfulness with gender, the two figures on either side of him represent two distinct forms of the binary; masculine and feminine. Sylvester is the figure standing in between with a symbol above as a nod to his elaborate headwear and creative hairstyles.

- Joy

ABOUT THE HISTORY
1947-1988 Singer and songwriter Sylvester was the first openly gay disco superstar. He was gender fluid before it was a term, shifting between gender pronouns and performing in full drag. With a vocal range that ranged from a high falsetto to the deepest baritone, Sylvester had several hit singles throughout the 70's and 80's.

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