Visual Artist 7GOD Talks Clothing and Culture in Delaware

7GOD. Photo by Joe Del Tufo

When it comes to style, visual artist 7GOD lets the mood move him as he curates his fashionable ensembles in Delaware.

Your style:

A spiritual, cultural mashup: I am authentically myself, spiritually in tune and culturally influenced, and I paint my clothes.

Fashion evolution:

In high school, I was deep into dressing like a gentleman—I wore blazers and carried a briefcase to school. Me and my friends wanted to change the narrative of how a Black man was perceived. We wore bow ties and ascots. All that has carried over to adulthood, but I might wear a funky bow tie with a painted blazer.

Clothing and culture:

I grew up in a Muslim home and I got teased for wearing a thobe—it looks like a dress, but it’s not—and having my pants end above my ankles. It gave me childhood trauma. For whatever reason, when I became a visual artist, I tapped into myself. …I became comfortable walking around in an izar, kufi or painted Hammer pants. I intentionally choose pieces because I want the young people that look at me to say that it’s OK to have knowledge of self and to dress like they know who they are.

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7GOD. By Joe Del Tufo

Is that easier to do in the 21st century?

No. People may call me weird or crazy and may or may not like it. But it’s bigger than that. I’m a young Black male with clothes painted in a lot of colors. As people of color, we’ve lost our identity. We don’t know who we are. I’m making African or Islamic garments look cool, and I’m making it OK to wear them.

Handling the haters:

I don’t [dress] for people’s entertainment. It comes from a place of freedom. I even used to walk around in a mask—way before the coronavirus. I wore it because I wanted to still be present in the world without showing my face.

You never part with:

I would never get rid of my Islamic thobe—never. I can dress it up. I can dress it down.

Go-to accessories:

I wear a lot of copper and crystal-wrapped jewelry. Some I made, some I purchased, and some came from a barter. I also wear copper crowns. People have been asking me for years to sell my jewelry.

Flashback to fashion:

One of my favorite genres is the psychedelic era around the ’70s and the Black Power movement. Bootsy Collins and George Clinton dressed really crazy, and the Black Panthers wore black beret caps and black leather jackets. When they got dressed, it meant something.

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Style icon:

Sun Ra. I believe he is the grandfather of Afrofuturism. When you see pictures of him, he’s dressed up in robes [like a character out of mythology]. I don’t dress like him, but I think it’s very interesting—his energy, aura and creativity. And then Pharrell Williams.

Old vs. new:

I love shopping vintage—Goodwill, Salvation Army and secondhand stores.

Cringeworthy fashion trend:

The only thing that makes me crazy, to be honest, is the pants below the [butt]. I hate that. But I try to mind my own business.

You won’t leave home without:

My crystals, copper bracelets and copper anklets.

Marrying mood and style:

When I feel like John Coltrane, I might put on a button-up shirt, slacks and painted-on loafers. If I’m feeling godly or fasting, I’ll wear a thobe and all white. When I’m artsy and fully creative, I’ll put on a whole painted outfit or overalls. If I want to be comfortable, I might walk outside with my shirt off and just some painted-on sweatpants, shorts and flip-flops. If I want to be fully free, I’ll put on painted-on shorts, a copper crown and no shoes.

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Definition of a well-dressed man:

Being yourself. I could walk outside in sweatpants that I’ve painted, loafers and a button-up shirt. To me, I look artistic. But someone might see me and think I look like a bum. Who am I to say what’s well-dressed or not?

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