Texture on the Runway took place in Atlanta and this year's attendees donned every #hairgoal we could think of: Braids, locs, fros, twists and updos. Michelle Breyer and Gretchen Heber created Texture on the Runway two decades ago to celebrate and represent natural hair on runways. 

The event was hosted by Breyer and Smooth 'n Shine brand ambassador, Nikia Phoenix. Hair stylist to the stars, Larry Sims, was also there to create beautiful hairstyles for the show with the models natural hair. Michelle Breyer, Larry Sims and Nikia Phoenix chatted with Byrdie's Maya Allen to discuss the creating Texture on the Runway, embracing natural hair, inclusivity and self-love. 

Photo: Smooth 'N Shine

Michelle Breyer on creating Texture on the Runway: 

Michelle Breyer began covering NYFW for NaturallyCurly ten years ago and recalled being "blown away by the creativity" she was seeing on the runway. However, as she began to cover more shows, she realized there was a diversity issue that was present. 

"The people on the runway didn't reflect the inclusivity of NaturallyCurly's community, or of society as a whole. There was barely a curl or kink to be seen," Breyer shared with Byrdie. She even recalled a stylist telling her that the designer wasn’t interested in including texture in the model’s hair for the runway. 

Once Breyer returned from fashion week in February of 2011, she had a vision of creating a "top-notch fashion show that enabled brands and their hairstylists to put texture front and center — to let the hair dictate the fashion rather than the other way around." 

To make a statement, however, Breyer needed their runway to be during NYFW while all of the biggest and most prestigious fashion shows were happening. During the first year of Texture on the Runway, Breyer ran into a lot of people who doubted her ability to get brands to sponsor it, people to attend and editors to even cover the event. Nonetheless, as time went by, the event gained recognition and Texture on the Runway obtained status. 

Larry Sims on loving your hair texture: 

During the event, a panel took place in which Larry Sims spoke about the importance of embracing your natural hair texture by discovering what works for you in creative ways, "but first you need to accept what you're born with. There's always beauty in things that people find imperfect, but you just need to dive in and work with what you've got to create a look that makes you feel confident," he told Byrdie. Sims also recommended consultations with hair professionals and suggested exploring natural hair enhancements such as extensions in one’s natural hair texture. 

Nikia Phoenix on her natural hair and inclusivity:

Nikia Phoenix, like many people, got relaxers when she was young, which caused her to barely remember her natural hair texture. Once she stopped using chemical straighteners, roughly ten years ago, was when she finally discovered her natural hair and its "super-kinky" texture.  

"Part of that process is accepting your hair for what it is. I accept it for its thickness and its tight coils, and I don't try to make it something that it's not," she shared. 

She also acknowledges that self-love and self-care were not always priorities but while living in a time where it is, it’s OK to be unapologetically yourself — "loving your hair is loving you." 

When asked her thoughts about the recent push in the media to become more inclusive, Phoenix stated, "It all comes down to intentions. Is this new push for diversity based on dollars, or are we genuinely seeing a change of heart? The educated, conscious consumer sees through the smoke and mirrors. The media, advertisers, and brands see that black women are trendsetters; they see our buying power, and they want to cash in. Women of color know when a company just wants to use black or brown face in advertising but is not invested in the human beings underneath that skin."

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