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Stay True to Yourself and Style: An ‘Aaliyah’ T-shirt Faux Pas



Aaliyah: (Photo Credit: Eric Johnson)

“I stay true to myself and my style, and I am always pushing myself to be aware of that and be original”


A few weeks ago, my son Blake and I visited one of his favorite stores, located near his university.  While browsing the store, I noticed Blake staring into the direction of an Aaliyah T-Shirt hanging on full display with prints of a few other artists.  Stopping dead his tracks, as if someone hit a pause button leaving him immobile, he stood with a blank expression on his face.

After the momentary silence, he said, “That’s not right!”  Somewhat taken aback by his sudden change in demeanor because of knowing that he is up on his Aaliyah game, i.e., an authentic Aaliyah fan, I asked him what he meant.  A ‘Selena’ t-shirt was calling my name, but I dared not move in its direction until the Aaliyah t-shirt discussion was over.

My eyes shifted to an image of Tupac—the artwork was just as amazing as the Selena graphic capturing my attention.  Not wanting to dismiss the moment at hand, I moved toward Blake to hear his voice over the music blasting throughout the store.

A college student and model who has walked in numerous fashion shows to include New York Fashion Week, he studies the celebrities that he admires and fact-checks what he sees or reads.  Having been featured in over ten magazines such as The Impression, Amica, Elle Magazine (US), Elle Spain, Harpers Bizarre, Madame, etc., he remains focused on his studies and interest in modeling/fashion.

Being the fashion-conscious person who brings to the industry an immense sense of style with an eye for detail, his annoyance with the photo would become obvious while observing his body language.  Lifting his cell to take more pics of the t-shirt, he shared his frustration and thoughts about the marketing faux pas.  He contended that the t-shirt was a slap in the face to Aaliyah’s loyal fans.

Aaliyah (photo credit/ David LaChapelle)

Listening intently because I value his opinion and reasoning on many levels, throwing out a few questions to gain more clarity on his marketing skills fit the occasion.  My line of questioning bent toward seeing if he was indeed up on his Aaliyah game as well as fashion.  I pressed him on “presentation” and “marketing integrity.”

He had recently told me about one of his marketing classes and the use of the retina in a project that he received extra credit for completing.  Hearing about his visit to one of the high-tech university marketing labs and the use of equipment to test how he responded to images by retina detection peaked interest and curiosity, specifically a retina (eye movement) marketing study detecting excitement or disapproval in changes in retina size.  Blake has volunteered for several studies in his marketing class, which he said should help him in business and the fashion industry.

While holding the shirt in his hands, he said, “Mom, I wouldn’t waste my money on this.”  Feeling the fabric and looking at the tag, he said, “Anyone who knows ‘anything’ about Aaliyah will not purchase this t-shirt either.”

Staring at the shirt in silence—he stood shaking his head before saying; “The shirt is dating the ‘tour’ in [1995], ‘Age Ain’t Nothin’ But a Number,’ using a picture that was likely taken during around the time she released the self-titled album Aaliyah in [2001].  “Whoever is producing these shirts are in it for the money and not for preserving the memory of Aaliyah, he added.”

Aaliyah (1994) Album Cover. Discography:

Aaliyah (2001) Album Cover. Discography:

Not one to sit in frustration void of using the error as a teachable moment for the manufacturer proactive measures were required.

The next step after alerting the store of the images being incorrect—try to locate the manufacturer by phone or email to address the marketing error. The label will inform most customers of the manufacturer.

Another important step—visit the websites where the shirts are displayed and leave comments on why he would not purchase the shirt.  Marketing integrity matters. The use of credible information displayed on any product most certainly matters because the money that the “customer spends” matters.

Check out the picture of the t-shirt below accompanied by models pulled from the store’s website.

Details from store website:

Throw it back to 1995 with this Aaliyah t-shirt! Long sleeve silhouette features text at the chest + sleeve with a larger photo graphic printed at the back. Finished with rib-knit banding at the crew neck + cuffs.

Blake didn’t purchase the shirt despite being a loyal fan and admirer.   Marketing tip: The manufacturer could sell more shirts with the date removed.  The word about the shirts is out among Aaliyah fans via Aaliyah websites.  Fans most certainly possess “buying power” and the foresight to refuse a “flawed product” contrary to what some manufacturers think.

The following picture of Blake wearing an Aaliyah sweat-shirt depicts one of his favorite images of the late singer, actress, and model.  He wore the shirt to his ‘Microeconomics class’ at his university to later discover that his professor attended “The Detroit School of Arts” with Aaliyah.  A bonding moment for sure with his professor, but not sure if he received any extra credit on his project.  He only laughed when asked about how the discussion on Aaliyah in class broke the ice with his new professor.

New York Fashion Model Blake wearing an Aaliyah sweat-shirt.  (Photo Credit: LeNora Millen).

Aaliyah Dana Haughton was an American singer, actress, and model. She was born in Brooklyn, New York, and raised in Detroit, Michigan.

  • Born: January 16, 1979, Brooklyn, New York City, NY
  • Died: August 25, 2001, Marsh Harbour, Bahamas
  • Video albums: 3
  • Soundtrack albums: 9
  • Compilation albums: 2
  • Studio albums3

On a final note, Blake added, “I know what loyalty means. Preserving the memory and dignity of Aaliyah is reflected in how her true fans honor her memory and her quote featured on the official Aaliyah website.”


#SirBlake contributed to this article.

#LeNoraMillen      12-29-17

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“Dress Yourself!” By Michele Renee Curtis

“Dress Yourself!” By Michele Renee Curtis

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“Dress Yourself!” By Michele Renee Curtis

Fashion is one form of self-expression that showcases your own individual style.

When you ask yourself, “Why not?” You unlock possibilities?

According to an article on by Sarah Waslak, the eighteen basic fashion rules for 2018 are here.

Feel free to read the full article at

The two rules this fashion stylist likes are; rule number one you can wear white all year and rule eleven reinvest in an existing piece before you throw it away.
My aunt is a firm believer in going shopping in your own closet before you hit the stores. Buy pieces to highlight, compliment, and change what you have.
Play with colors that highlight your skin tone or your favorite part of the body such as your eyes, legs, or waist.
To learn more about dressing for the office or business visit my blog today at

“Fashion & Communications: What Our Clothes Say First!”
Cynthia Salim, is the founder of Citizens Mark, a new fashion line catered to professional women and their attire the site is

I find that we as women are judged by our appearance professionally more than men. If we dress provocative we are perceived as cheap. If we dress classic often that comes across as stand-off-ish.

Every woman has the right to choose her own individual style based on her comfort level and taste.

I believe Citizens Mark clothes are the classic look of professional and tasteful. The quality of the apparel is second to none.

Perception is very prominent in fashion as well as communications. What you say and how you say it must be clear, unique, and deliberate.

Define your brand and how you choose to portray its goals and mission.

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@TamLawrence @ExposureMagazine

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Ms. Lawrence

Founder of Exposure Magazine

Looking to put Chinese fashion brands on the map, Alibaba’s B2C e-commerce platform Tmall said Thursday it will bring four fashion labels to showcase their designs on the runway during the next month’s “New York Fashion Week: Men’s” event.

Tmall and NYFW: Men’s announced a partnership last September. As part of that agreement, Chinese brands will showcase their new 2018 autumn-winter collections on the runway and at showrooms during the fashion event from Feb. 5-8 in Manhattan. They’ll be showing off their style in front of the approximately 300 fashion editors, retail executives, buyers and the industry’s thought leaders expected to view each presentation.

After rigorous rounds of screening, the four finalists include leading Chinese fashion brand Peacebird, local sportswear giant Li-Ning, individual designer Chen Peng—who recently had his namesake brand’s puffer jacket worn by Lady Gaga—and Hong Kong pop icon Edison Chen’s streetwear brand CLOT.

The brainchild of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA), NYFW: Men’s this year will feature “Tmall China Day,” an initiative to help Chinese fashion talent break into the international market, which includes designer-buyer matchmaking, e-commerce collaborations and showcases at its fashion week events. CFDA is an invite-only trade association with the membership of over 500 leading American or US-based designers in footwear, apparel and accessories, including fashion industry greats Tom Ford, Diane von Furstenberg, Jill Stuart, Alexander Wang and Tommy Hilfiger.

“China Day allows us to further expand the scope of NYFW: Men’s by showcasing the most exciting Chinese fashion talent to the American fashion community,” said Steven Kolb, president and CEO of CFDA. “The initiative is part of CFDA’s overall strategy to build international ties, which will in turn help us strengthen the impact of American fashion globally.”


Hong Kong-based lifestyle brand CLOT was among the four brands selected to participate in Tmall China Day.

For its part of the collaboration, Tmall advises the selection of China Day candidates for the menswear show and the September womenswear show, NYFW: Women’s.

In October last year, Tmall invited three CFDA brands—Opening Ceremony, Robert Geller and GREY Jason Wu—to participate in its annual “See Now, Buy Now” fashion extravaganza, giving their latest clothing lines first-time exposure to the half-billion Chinese consumers who visit Alibaba’s platforms. For NYFW: Men’s, Tmall plans to use the same model, allowing consumers to instantly purchase some of the outfits as they watch the runway shows streamed on the platform.

“Both sides come from the common goal of promoting exchange between Chinese and American fashion industries. We want to help outstanding Chinese designers gain more recognition in the international fashion community, while also supporting commercial labels to build their brand and expand globally.” said Jessica Liu, president of Tmall Fashion. “On the other hand, we would also like to attract quality U.S. fashion brands and designers to the China market and use Tmall’s assets to help them succeed commercially.”

An official launch event will be held in New York early February in the run-up to NYFW: Men’s, which expects attendance from designers, as well as some of the big names in the judging committee, including Bloomingdale’s fashion director for menswear Justin Berkowitz and vice secretary-general of Shanghai Fashion Week Xiaolei Lv.

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Former Lead Jordan Sneaker Designer Raises $7 Million for His New Business, Super Heroic




Mayden recently dove head first into his new venture, Super Heroic, a play focused brand born out of disruptive innovation

by Sequoia Blodgett

Super Heroic, a company that creates children’s play and sports clothing as well as other products, and was launched by a former designer for Brand Jordan shoes, just raised $7 million in funding.

Jason Mayden is a co-founder of Super Heroic. Growing up on the South Side of Chicago, his dream was to work for Nike designing shoes for Michael Jordan. Surviving in a neighborhood inundated with violence is an understatement, but Mayden far surpassed that. He became the first African American to get a design internship with Nike and went on to design shoes for Eminem, Carmelo Anthony, Chris Paul, and Jordan himself, not to mention creating the redesign for the “Monarch,” the highest-grossing shoe in Nike’s history. He eventually held the title as Senior Design Global Director for Brand Jordan.

Currently, he holds accolades from Stanford’s D.School, (Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford), as an advisory board member and is a former designer for Accel Partners, a well-recognized venture fund in Silicon Valley.

Mayden recently dove into his new venture, Super Heroic, a play focused brand born out of disruptive innovation.

So far, the brand includes apparel focused around how children play, an app designed to keep kids moving, and several other products created to foster children’s imaginations.


Mayden recently sat down with Tom Bilyeu, host of Impact Theory, to discuss the journey to his success.

Tom Bilyeu: Dude, your story is an insane tale of what happens when you are willing to work yourself nearly to death. How did you get the mentality? Man, that’s crazy!

Jason Mayden: There are several things that I fundamentally believe that are true in terms of difficulty and what it gives you. For me, being born on the South Side of Chicago in a blue-collared environment, you don’t make excuses for yourself.

There is no such thing as anyone starting life behind the start line. I look at myself as being equal to everyone I’m in a room with and the separation between where I want to go and where I am is my work ethic.

Tom Bilyeu: Were there other things that Jordan taught you specifically about becoming the greatest or just getting ahead?

Jason Mayden: The people you surround yourself with. Everybody that you put in your inner circle should have one thing that they do better than you. That way you’re always a student.

The greatest leaders on the planet are also the greatest curators. They don’t create a lot but, they curate thoughts and they put it together and they put their perspective on it. I try to do the same thing. I’m like man, this person’s amazing at this, this person’s amazing at that, how can I learn from them and then put my spin on it.


Tom Bilyeu: When people ask me how do you get ahead, how do you be successful, it’s like you have to open yourself up to actually being changed, like when you read a book, stop and really think, how can I use this, how do I put it to work. Is that something that’s just always come naturally to you or was that an insight someone gave you?

Jason Mayden: You know, I think it came naturally because as a kid, you know I joke about being a middle child, I joke about being quiet but, when you’re quiet and you’re smaller than everyone and you’re an introvert, you can hear more than everyone else because you don’t talk that often, so you pull in information and you can get better at it.

Just by being quiet and still and being invisible, that became my super power. I was able to see everything and learn and I got better and added the skill set so when it was my time to have something to say, I felt more confident.

You have to acknowledge that change is a part of life. You grow up, you leave home, you change addresses, you change jobs, change is a constant theme in our existence. The sooner you become comfortable with that concept, you’re free.

So many gems dropped here. Peep the entire interview below, and come see Mayden live at Black Enterprise’s TechConneXt Summit in October.


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