Last October popular local fashion blogger, Andrea Serrano (a.k.a Charleston Shop Curator) posted a photo on Instagram, taken by local photographer Taylor Jarvis, that depicted Serrano wearing an afro wig as part of a Halloween costume.
The image of the Italian/Filipino woman drew ire from many people on social media, with negative comments eventually leading to Serrano removing the image, and, later, re-posting it, saying, “In my opinion if someone wears their hair a certain way, dresses in a certain style, and listens to certain music that individual is admiring a culture or person, not mocking them.”
This controversial image of Serrano inspired the second Southern Discomfort event, Tearing at the Seams, to be held at Redux on Thurs. May 31, and hosted by Monachopsis — a digital fashion magazine created “by weirdos, for weirdos.” Editor-in-Chief Kristen Milford spoke about the upcoming event earlier this week.
“There were a lot of black women in the comments [of Serrano’s Instagram] saying stuff like, ‘Hey, I can’t take my hair off at the end of the day.’ I told Andrea, you should listen to these women,” says Milford.
In case you don’t remember (read up, y’all), Southern Discomfort, first held way back in 2016, was a discussion/event created in direct response to a racist drawing promoting the band Brave Baby. After the drawing drew a lot of heat from people on social media, the parties involved, along with local activists and musicians, created Southern Discomfort to address race disparities in the local music scene.
[content-5] Now, Southern Discomfort returns, again discussing inequities in Charleston — this time, in the fashion scene. The event, moderated by Milford and Monachopsis’ marketing director, Quincie Zari, features panel speakers including Charleston Fashion Week founder, Ayoka Lucas; Venita Aspen of The Aspen Agency; Jessie Parks of Grease Kelly Vintage; Sabrina Hyman of Ill Vibe the Tribe; and Chelsea Simone, a local arts management expert.
While Serrano was originally going to speak on the panel, she has removed herself from the event. Serrano says, “I support Kristen Milford’s efforts to facilitate diversity in the fashion community, because this is an important issue to me as well. We just have different opinions when it comes to the intentions of my social media post. “
Milford explains that while Serrano’s picture served as a catalyst for the second Southern Discomfort, there are plenty of other issues in the local fashion scene to discuss. “As the scene has expanded, we’ve seen stuff like tokenism, having the token black girl,” says Milford. “We’ll talk about ways businesses can hold themselves accountable, ways to track their casting, ‘Here’s how to find nonwhite models.”
Together, with the audience, the panel will discuss more topics like career sustainability for marginalized groups and the lack of diversity in campaigns. “Our thought is a take-home worksheet that features a checklist and concrete methods for goal tracking,” says Milford.
If you’d like to submit a question to be asked at the panel, you can post it on the Facebook event.