Americana is a loaded idea. For many of us, it is impossible to dissociate cuffed jeans, tapered khakis, flannels, and slicked hair with this country’s heritage of racism, erasure, and co-opting of black culture. TRUST THE PROCESS, the first collaborative collection by Thee Teen-Aged! (helmed by Alyasha Owerka-Moore) and Union (led by Chris Gibbs) confronts this legacy head on.
TRUST THE PROCESS was initially the title of a zine that featured poetry by Owerka-Moore’s father juxtaposed with images of iconic black musicians who had processed (or conked) hair. This was Owerka-Moore’s response to accusations about his own hair that conflated him with legendary blues artist Muddy Waters as examples of black men whose work and identity were rendered less culturally significant - and, ultimately, “less black” - because of their grooming choices.
Gibbs and Owerka-Moore initially met in the early 90s thanks to Gibbs’ wife Beth, who, at the time, was working with Owerka-Moore on a new brand called Phat Farm. Recently reconnected, the old friends decided to turn TRUST THE PROCESS into a collection that reclaims visual languages and style choices that were stripped from the black American narrative. Specifically, they aim to reexamine what mainstream culture has long referred to as “rock n roll” (originally, a blues euphemism for sex) or “greaser style,” concepts invented by black youth in the 40s, 50s, and 60s.
As black men who were born in the 70s in the wake of race riots across Watts and Detroit, and who entered the workforce as corporations and culture grappled over the idea of “urban” in the 90s, Gibbs and Owerka-Moore bring their respective journeys full circle with TRUST THE PROCESS.
“Watts in 1966 is not unlike the Watts of 1965. The deceptive ghetto bakes in the same California sun and smog and discontent - but there is one change. And that change is the difference in between the gradual reconstruction of today and the fury and frustration that burned so fiercely one year ago. There is communication now: most of it by blacks, with blacks, for blacks.” - The Angry Voices of Watts (1966)
Creative Director - Alyasha Owerka Moore
Director / DP - Connor Wyse
Photographer - Dennis McGrath
Producer - Tony Bang
Wardrobe Stylist - Van Van Alonso
Hair Stylist - Nikki Rae
Featuring - Ishod Wair, Jasmine Nyende, Kane Kaples, Jamal Hollis, Jumi Olowofoyeku