One of the most intriguing stories in Spectrum of Fashion is the discovery of livery worn by Tilghman Davis and Tom Brown, two men formerly enslaved at Hampton—the Ridgely family estate that is now a National Historic Site in Towson, MD. The livery on display will serve as a point of departure for exploring companies such as Brooks Brothers, which were in the business of producing such elaborate uniforms. In the 19th century, Brooks Brothers provided garments for coachmen, footmen, and chauffeurs in wealthy American households, many of them residing in the antebellum South. Like many northern commercial institutions, the celebrated clothier thus benefited from the institution of slavery. This intriguing connection will be discussed by Dr. Jonathan Michael Square, a writer and historian specializing in fashion and visual culture in the African Diaspora.
Jonathan Michael Square is a writer and historian specializing in fashion and visual culture of the African Diaspora. He has a PhD in history from New York University, a master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin, and a BA from Cornell University. He has taught at the University of Pennsylvania, Fashion Institute of Technology, Parsons School of Design, and currently at Harvard University. He has written for Fashionista, Fashion Studies Journal, Refinery29, Vestoj, Hyperallergic, and the International Journal of Fashion Studies. A proponent of the power of social media as a platform for radical pedagogy, he also runs the website Fashioning the Self in Slavery and Freedom, which explores the intersection of fashion and slavery.Learn More