Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Anti-Urban Label Dress Codes

It's commonplace for clubs to have dress codes. New York clubs like Jay Z's The 4040 Club doesn't allow "sneakers, Timberlands, work boots, t-shirts, jerseys, athletic wear, baseball caps, or doo-rags. You are able to wear jeans, but they need to be very neat."

As many of you who attend clubs know, however, dress codes are often negotiable. I mean, raise your hand if you've been to 4040 and seen someone wearing all of the above except maybe do-rags. Wave both your hands in the air if you yourself have been in 4040 wearing the above. [Update: I actually went to a party at 4040 this past summer for the release of a DVD about sneakers and, I kid you not, every single male in the joint was wearing kicks.] The purpose of a dress code is to send a message AND to act as back-up should the doorman decide that he doesn't like the look of someone trying to get through the door.

As interesting as The 4040 Club's dress code is, down in Nashville, the folks who behind a club called On the Rocks decided to take their rules on who can and can't enter their club to a whole new level. Check this shit out:

The bar recently displayed a dress code that stated: No Baggy Clothes. No Chains. No Sunglasses. No Grills. The code also prohibits certain clothing labels: Southpole, ECKO, ENYCE, Sean Jean, Phat Farm, FUBU, ETC. The owner of On The Rocks would not comment on why those specific labels were banned. One shopowner who sells some of those brands said that one reason for the ban may be because some of the clothes are associated with gang members.

Naturally, several people who were quoted for the article think the policy is racist:

“You see black people wearing more of these type of clothes. I have it on now. I think he pointed his finger toward black people (talking about) the grills and the Sean Jean. I think he’s talking about more black people,” [Jarvis] Canty said.

And of course it's racist. What else could it possibly be other than a policy to put a check on black and Latino males? The interesting thing is that dress codes are also clearly targeting young men. And on top of that, it's also a class thing. Because again, we all know that if Kanye were to show up at The 4040 Club (or even this "classy" joint in Nashville) rockin' his latest limited edition kicks, a New Era fitted and a big ole gold chain, he'd breeze right through the door. It's like, Puffy, Russell and Jay may MAKE the clothes, but dontcha know, they don't actually wear them--heaven forbid--when they're attending fancy parties and clubs. But if you're young or poor, a lot of times you don't know all the unspoken codes.

Dress codes are as old as the hills. Humans have being using spoken and unspoken rules about dress to deny people entry to powerful places for probably as long as they've worn clothes. It just makes me sad to see that no one even tries being polite when it comes to creating rules keeping young males of color out.

Story spotted at PSFK


Jeff said...

i live in nashville and ive heard about this. i dont rock any of those brands, but for what its worth...the place that have this inforced are horrible and i wouldnt be caught dead in them.

not everyone in nashville is like this i assure you and it has pissed a lot of people off.

Lois said...

Thanks for the feedback, Jeff. I don't see this as an issue that's specifically reflective of either Nashville or the South. Shoot, I live in New York and 4040, a club owned by Jay Z, a black man born in the projects, has a dress policy that's not too far off from the one mentioned in the article. So yeah, while these policies are clearly racist, there are other issues in play as well.