For Man Repeller Operations Manager Crystal Anderson, Afropunk Festival is like the Met Gala, Oscars and CFDA Awards wrapped into one.

“In a world where brown and black folks can be looked over, it’s a place where black excellence is celebrated as far as the eye can see,” she told me. “Afropunk is a place where shrinking yourself is not an option. It’s a place where taking up space is not only accepted but welcomed. Afropunk has changed considerably since it started 13 years ago, but it’s still very much a celebration of the outliers and the punks. I haven’t felt so seen and so celebrated and so affirmed, since…um…this same time last year.”

Founded in 2005, Afropunk is an annual festival based in Brooklyn that spotlights black creatives. Though it is now renowned as a star-studded international  phenomenon with events in multiple cities, featuring artists like Janelle Monáe and Erykah Badu, it began as a small community stirred by tattoo artist James Spooner’s documentary about black identity within the alternative punk scene. True to its roots, the fashion at the festival today is a visual exploration of identity, a celebration of taking up space in its most literal form, from woven hoop skirts to artfully arranged hair. Every outfit is brimming with personal style so original it feels like a gigantic, euphoric exhale: Ahhhhhh, so this is what it looks like to dress for yourself and shout it from the rooftops.

It is especially refreshing in the age of Instagram, where trends regurgitate ad nauseam, to witness such a bounty of authentic self-expression. It’s the stuff of goosebumps, the zing that shoots up your spine when you feel inspired, the thrill of seeing art in motion. Flip through the slideshow above to soak it all in, and meet me in the comments to unpack your favorite outfits.

Photos by Simon Chetrit.

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