At this spring’s preview of the hottest fall and winter fashion, a surprising number of models walked the runways of Paris and Milan with something not usually seen in the world of high fashion: natural hair.
According to Style.com, models like Lineisy Montero, a Dominican newcomer to the fashion world, turned heads at Prada with her short Afro. At Balenciaga, Nykhor Paul, Ajak Deng, Grace Bol and Mari Agory all complemented Alexander Wang’s collection with their close-cropped natural styles.
These models stood out from their white peers, who wore their hair in pin-straight ponytails and long, center-parted waves lengthened with hair weaves or clip-in extensions.
They also mark a major shift from black supermodels like Naomi Campbell, Tyra Banks, Joan Smalls and others, who all have their hair relaxed or blown-out. Their straight, sleek styles represent a discrepancy between natural hair and weaves and extensions, which have long been manufactured for fine, straight hair — not the thick, curly hair that African-Americans are typically born with.
Because of this, almost six out of 10 black consumers wear sew in hair extensions and weaves that aren’t made for their hair type, requiring them to have their hair chemically relaxed. And consequently, 21% of the black hair salon industry is devoted to relaxers; black consumers spend $152 million on relaxing their hair every year.
However, this seems to be changing, both with a shift toward black women embracing their natural hair and expansions to the market for natural hair and weaves.
Companies like the Heat Free Hair Movement and others are now manufacturing hair extensions made with 100% virgin hair — hair that hasn’t been permed, straightened or dyed. This allows African-Americans, who spend $507 billion on hair care items each year, a way to safely lengthen their hair without damaging it with chemical relaxers and heat styling.
Knowing this, it’s clear that the trend for natural hair won’t just stay on the runway — African-American women everywhere can now wear their hair naturally, at any length they want.
What are your thoughts on natural, short hair styles making a major statement on the catwalk this spring? Have any other questions about natural hair and weaves? Feel free to start a conversation in the comments below.