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    Dear Fashion Writers, Please Credit The Black Style Icons Who Inspired Billie Eilish's Look

    Black women have been rocking baggy, outlandish streetwear since long before Billie was even born.

    So you've probably heard of Billie Eilish by now. The 17-year-old pop phenom has been smashing charts worldwide with her debut No. 1 album When We Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?

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    She also just dropped a Justin Bieber-backed remix of her hit song "bad guy," which is predicted to ~possibly~ end "Old Town Road"'s record-breaking 13-week run at No. 1. Basically, you're gonna be hearing Billie EVERYWHERE for the rest of the summer.

    Remarkable music career aside, Billie's also been crowned a style icon by a ton of publications, many of which credit the young star for pioneering loud, larger-than-life streetwear ensembles that defy gendered fashion norms.

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    And by streetwear, I mean oversized clothing, relaxed silhouettes, trendy sportswear, graphic tees, lots of denim, and, of course, holygrail and hypebeast kicks (think Air Force 1s, chunky FILAs, etc).

    But I'm not here today to talk about Billie's style. I'm here to credit the music fashion icons who pioneered streetwear for women looong before Billie was even born. Because, like most trailblazing, definitive fashion, and beauty trends, this wave was actually set forth by black women.

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    BTW, I'm well aware that Billie's spoken out about why she wears oversized clothing — it's to prevent her from being objectified and hypersexualized — and how she relates to Rihanna's use of fashion as a "defense mechanism." Still, none of that takes away from the fact that these women's major contributions to and influence on global fashion and culture have been missing from conversations on Billie's style.

    1. SWV gave us the eighth wonder of the world "Weak" and other timeless joints like "Right Here (Human Nature Remix)" and "You're the One," so the R&B group could've hit the stage in potato sacks and we still would've stanned.

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    But Bronx natives Leanne "Lelee" Lyons and Cheryl "Coko" Gamble and Brooklyn girl Tamara "Taj" Johnson consistently brought the lewks, proving that women singers and "mens" streetwear weren't mutually exclusive.

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    2. Xscape was another wildly successful 90's R&B group that sang down while dressed in around the way attire.

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    The Atlanta quartet kicked off their hugely successful 90's R&B career with "Understanding" and the platinum hit "Just Kickin' It," and the accompanying music videos feature Kandi Burruss, Tameka "Tiny" Harris, LaTocha Scott, and Tamika Scott in the baggiest and flyest of 'fits.

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    3. You can't* talk about streetwear music icons and NOT talk about Brooklyn's own Aaliyah Dana Haughton. I'll bet my next paycheck that her iconic Tommy Hilfiger looks alone generated the brand hundreds of millions in sales.

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    *But apparently, you CAN, hence my reasons for writing this list...

    Babygirl ushered her unapologetic aesthetics into the predominantly white pop princess landscape, broadening and diversifying streetwears trend on a global level.

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    And if you dare say otherwise, well then I challenge you to an "Are You That Somebody?" dance-off.

    4. Da Brat's fashion and beauty game is unparalleled, as are her trailblazer receipts.

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    Not only did the Chicagoan's 1994 debut album Funkdafied make her the first female solo rap act to receive a platinum certification, but her infectious, swaggadocious style made her a must-have collaborator to superstars like Brandy, Destiny's Child, and Mariah Carey.

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    5. I've got three letters for you: T-L-C.

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    If you didn't know, Rozonda "Chilli" Thomas of ATL, Tionne "T-boz" Watkins of Des Moines, and Lisa "Left Eye" Lopes of Philly still hold the title of best-selling American girl group, and second-best worldwide after the Spice Girls. They sold over 85 million records and their albums and chart-topping classics "Creep", "Waterfalls", "No Scrubs", and "Unpretty" can be found on every (accurate) "best of all time" list.

    Throughout their illustrious decades-spanning career, TLC experimented with avant-garde garbs, set innovative trends, and demonstrated the limitless power and impact of black girl magic through music and fashion. And I, for one, am forever grateful!

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    6. And then there's the inimitable rapper-singer-songwriter-producer Missy Misdemeanor Elliot.

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    Where, oh where does one begin? The Virginia native's streetwear catalogue is peerless, regardless of gender or genre.

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    Between her music videos and red carpet ensembles, Missy has generated some of the most visually stunning style moments in music history, this legendary June Ambrose-styled "Michelin woman" suit included. To call her a creative genius would be a gross understatement.

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    If you've never watched "The Rain (Supa Dupa Fly)" music video, then have you ever really seen a music video??? Back in 2017, Missy spoke with Elle about her inspo behind the larger-than-life look: "To me, the outfit was a way to mask my shyness behind all the chaos of the look. Although I am shy, I was never afraid to be a provocative woman. The outfit was a symbol of power. I loved the idea of feeling like a hip-hop Michelin woman. I knew I could have on a blow-up suit and still have people talking. It was bold and different. I've always seen myself as an innovator and a creative unlike any other."

    7. Rihanna? Well, she's the most influential streetwear icon alive, periodt, full stop.

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    Whenever the bad gyal steps out in a gender-bending suit or a ginormous sleeping bag jacket, every style barometer from Vogue to GQ to Fashion Bomb Daily scrambles to consider it, and rightly so.

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    These looks guaranteed clicks because her unpredictable sense of style ensures a breath of crisp, clean air.

    Interestingly enough, Rihanna differs from her abovementioned peers in that she didn't launch her career as a streetwear icon, but instead blossomed into one. As Rih's amount of fucks decreased, her penchant for "urban" clothes marketed towards men and "urban" (read: black) communities increased.

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    Streetwear became global in the '90s and was largely driven by punk rock and hip hop culture. The latter genre was arguably more popular and pervasive than the former, as were the women in rap and the women R&B singers, both of whom typically collaborated with male hip hop artists.

    However, through the late '90s up to now, we've experienced a resurgence in women in hip hop and R&B branding themselves as decidedly femme, sexual, and hypersexual. It's not that those characteristics aren't as stylish, substantial, or empowering as streetwear, because they certainly can be, but the reduced representation of powerful, successful black women rocking bold, oversized "men's" clothing seems to indicate something detrimental and mysogynistic at work.

    Rihanna's love of streetwear and her disregard for labels like "men's streetwear" and "women's streetwear" has single-handedly sparked a return of the looks that her sister predecessors immortalized (like Beyoncé did for leotards), blazing a trail for Billie and other newcomer music girls alike.

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    That's not to say that Billie's the only young woman in music who's been defying gender fashion norms and empowering audiences to wear whatever makes them feel confident and comfortable. British singer Ella Mai does it and Brooklyn-born rapper-singer Leikeli47's been doing it for a minute now with her prominent ski masks and Missy-reminiscent attire.

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    But crediting a white person for something considered to be groundbreaking without also crediting, acknowledging, and similarly celebrating the black women who paved the way only leads to erasure. And I'll be damned if I sit idly by while trailblazers like Missy, SWV, and TLC get overlooked on their own wave.

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