Fashion file: Black Canadians share their inspiration

As 1,200 black Canadians gathered at the National Summit of Black Canadians, Halifax-based photographer Alvero Wiggins said it should have been called Halifax Fashion Weekend.

To find out more about the beautiful and colorful outfits worn by the delegates, we asked what inspires their fashion choices.

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From cool comfort and bold prints to family and heritage, their answers have been as colorful as their looks.

Oghenemine (Mimi) Jarekre

“I’m Nigerian and I love dressing in traditional African attire. This is one of the prints from home – I designed it and my family sent it to me in Toronto. I love him. It’s easy, it’s easy. With white sneakers and a white bag, I’m good to go. It’s pretty, chic and simple.”

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Black woman with short black hair wearing classes, colorful printed dress (pink, red, purple, yellow) and white handbag
Oghenemine (Mimi) Jarekre is the CEO and Founder of Redeem Clothing Recycling, a company dedicated to improving recycling behavior in Canada. (Alvero Wiggins)

Josh Creighton

“I had to come fully dressed: all black, blackout, to pay homage to the ancestors.”

Young black man with rust hair and beard wearing a black suit.  Standing on easels in front of two paintings.
Josh Creighton is a Community Engagement Specialist from Uniacke Square in Halifax, NS (Alvero Wiggins)

Favor Nzeribe

“I’m an entrepreneur and I like to look really cool but simple at the same time.”

Black male with black hair, big smile, hands in pockets holding peach button-down short-sleeved shirt and white pants
Favor Nzeribe is a business marketing student from Toronto. (Alvero Wiggins)

Dahabo Ahmed Omer

“My mother inspired my fashion. My mother is a wonderful woman, her sense of style is beyond measure and she actually attracted me. I bought all of that in Dubai when I went on my trip, so it’s all my mum here, all of it.”

Black woman wearing a pink and beige headscarf, light pink jacket and pink trousers, carrying a black handbag
Dahabo Ahmed-Omer is the Executive Director of the Black North Initiative in Toronto. (Alvero Wiggins)

Blessings Owowa

“I’m wearing one of my summer two-piece suits. It is very comfortable on the body and lightweight for the hot weather.”

Black woman with a colorful headscarf, wearing a black on white polka dot shirt and shorts.  Featuring a bold black and white design around the waist.
Blessing Owowa is the founder of DB Pearlz, an Afrocentric one-stop fashion brand for men, women and kids based in Halifax. (Alvero Wiggins)

Aaron Sardinha

“I connect with my ancestors with this beautiful traditional shirt. It was gifted to me by an elder in our church who is from Kenya and I am very grateful for that. I’ve got the Jordans on, that’s me Reclaiming the Jordans. I know they are owned and operated by systems of wisdom, but you must stay fresh. I have the colors on the right foot to pay tribute to Pride Month so I have a little splash of pink there. Call out to the black communities who identify as queer. I have jewelry from family members and friends.

Young black man with curly hair below his ears giving the peace sign wearing a black and gold long sleeve shirt, black pants and white and black Nike shoes with pink laces in one show, black laces in the other.
Aaron Sardinha is Youth Programs Coordinator at the Black Cultural Society of Prince Edward Island. (Alvero Wiggins)

Camille Georges

“My fashion inspiration is Solange Knowles. I wanted casual chic. I’m often the youngest person in rooms and I like to question the formal fit. I like to mix a blazer with sneakers, also shorts because it’s summer and we don’t have that many months to enjoy it. I love a pop of color, I like a statement.”

Young black woman with long hair braided in dreads wearing a black top and short skirt with a pink thigh length jacket and pink and white running shoes
Camille Georges works at McGill University on the Action Plan to Combat Racism Against Black People. (Alvero Wiggins)

Dena Williams

“The vibe I was going for was ‘luxury for the culture’: something a little bit high end, but also with the culture. I have this headgear, I’m not directly West African but I’m very connected to a lot of the culture My shoes, I wear Vans and these are actually limited editions that Vans have collaborated with A Tribe Called Quest on, which is one of my favorite hip Hop groups that are very instrumental in black culture and black music. I wanted to bring those two things together. “

Black woman with long black hair partly in a bun wearing a black dress and long denim jacket with frayed ends and a yellow handbag and black and white running shoes
Dena Williams is the Owner and Founder of Vitamin D Entertainment and Event Director for the Summit After Dark Youth Event in Halifax. (Alvero Wiggins)

funmi Odeniyi

“I feel at home today, so I had to represent how I feel. Every day my clothes represent how I feel and it makes me feel like royalty.”

Black woman with a headscarf with an African print, a floor-length dress with an African print on the front and beige pointed shoes.
Funmi Odeniyi is the owner and founder of Michnat Fashion, a Halifax-based Afrocentric clothing brand that incorporates African prints into designs to create a contemporary feel. (Alvero Wiggins)

Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo

“In general, I’m not a big fan of suits and very fancy fits, but I feel like I’m in society that’s considered professional. And I consider myself a professional, I’m a CEO! But coming to the Summit I wanted something really casual, fresh, chic and chilled.”

Young black man, short hair, wears royal blue shirt with red trim, light blue pants, black and white running shoes and beige bag with straps across chest
Drayton Mulindabigwi Jabo is the founder of 20today20tomorrow in Ottawa. (Alvero Wiggins)
Five fists are raised, each with a different skin color, with the words "Being Black in Canada" next to it with a colorful border

For more stories about Black Canadians’ experiences—from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community—see Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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