From suits to robes: The use of African inspired apparel as a communication tool in the American avant-garde jazz community

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Cottle, C. Adam
Cottle, Frederick S.
Bell, Thomas W.
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Middle Tennessee State University
Intellect Ltd., Journal of Fashion, Style and Popular Culture, Vol 2, Issue 2
Many musicians working in the avant-garde of American jazz in the post-Civil Rights era publicly aligned themselves with black power cultural ideologies. The Afrocentric fashions worn by some of these musicians were a visual representation of their cultural beliefs and endure as a major component of the musical form’s legacy. This article reevaluates these performers’ standing in popular culture, recognizing them as fashion innovators on top of being musical revolutionaries. These musicians’ adventurous style lives on in popular culture through fashion statements in hip hop, neo soul and other musical genres. This article was first published in Intellect. The publisher's full-text version is available at
African fashion, Afrocentricity, Afro-jazz, Avant-garde jazz, Comminities of practice, Popular culture