In case you haven’t perused what’s going on in trendy fast fashion lately, here’s a glimpse: Taking internet slang—often the sort popularized by black people—and turning it into sellable goods is so hot right now.
“SLAY” sweatshirt from NastyGal.com.
“PIZZA IS MY BAE,” from Forever 21.
“THE SNUGGLE IS REAL,” from Forever 21 (now sold out).
Rad also makes a STAY ON FLEEK sweatshirt…
A TRAP QUEEN tee…
A“RETURN TO BAE” bag…
As well as this shirt where Drake is portrayed like Uncle Ben, of the rice brand. As you may know, in this context, “uncle” was what you called an older black man who was a slave.
Then there’s this “DON’T MISS ME BAE” bag from Miss Monki, available at ASOS. Trying to parse this phrase is extremely taxing. Is she leaving and instructing her lover not to long for her? Will she be debuting in a Broadway show for which bae had better get tickets, lest he fail to catch her performance? Is she beseeching Cupid to strike her with an arrow?
Speaking of meaningless slang cobbled together and slapped on an item meant to turn a profit:
Keeping in mind that Peaches Monroe, who coined “on fleek,” is crowdfunding her life, that there is racial inequality in meme monetization, and that, as Doreen St. Felix put it when writing for Fader, black teens are breaking the internet and seeing none of the profits, here’s the question: When you have a situation in which, as what one person on Twitter called it, “the commodification and misuse of AAVE and black culture for capitalistic gain” occurs—not to mention unauthorized usage of lyrics from black musicians—should we be distressed with the companies making these products, upset with the consumers, angry at the market, pissed by the business plan (put words black people have used on something and sell it!), or just resigned to the idea that, as the kids say, there’s no such thing as ethical consumption under capitalism?