BSU’s Black Explosion fashion show explores the future


The Black Student Union brought afro-futurism to the runway Saturday night.

BSU presented Futura Ultra – the club’s annual Black Explosion fashion and culture show – at the Conference & Event Center in Niagara Falls. The minimal stage design and the center’s industrial ceiling encouraged attendees to focus on forward-thinking constructs of black creatives. Internet sensation Nicholas “Nick” Fraser hosted the show, which featured four designers, student models and performances.

More than 600 tickets were sold, according to BSU President Samirra Felix, but the noticeably bigger venue left about 100 empty seats. The budget for Black Explosion this year is approximately $35,000 – which is about 75 percent of BSU’s budget, according to Treasurer Alexandra Louigarde.

Proto by Space, a crowd favorite, was designed by “Space” a.k.a. Rahshan Kendricks. The clothing fit in with the show’s futurist theme. The line examines the future visionaries of the world through reflective jackets that feature stripes & flame patterns.

Some lines like Born Billionaire, designed by Tyre Lajuan, explored a variety of patterns through shirts and gown-like garb as galactic graphics complemented models on the runway.

One ambitious collection, Fruition, is the vision of Queens-designer Raishawn Washington. Washington collaborated with his partners on the line and he featured his colleague Denzel Subryan’s glasses on the runway.

“We make clothing for everyday people who go to work and have dreams of doing something better for themselves,” Washington said.

The clothing has messages like “Create with a Purpose,” “Freedom is an Illusion” and “Only the Strong Survive.” Washington wants to promote “good energy and good vibes” through the clothing.

At the start of Fruition’s showcase, the designer’s powerful message became clear. Models walked the runway – on one occasion, with black power fists raised – with jackets spilling “Black Lives Matter” and shirts with symbols of panthers leaping.

Other pieces took a more futuristic approach.

CZEN was another clothing line featured in the show. Chase “Uptown Chase” Cobinna, a Buffalo State alum who grew up in Buffalo’s east side, displayed the innovative brand he’s been working on for two years.

“With CZEN, it allowed me to actually create from a standpoint of trying to be the Margiela of streetwear,” Cobinna said. “I really appreciate what Raf Simons has done for taking kids off the street and putting them on the runway.”

Cobinna’s brand represents people adjusting to life changes just as they adjust to new seasons. CZEN’s pieces range from construction-wear that represent a desirable future and Louis Vuitton-inspired jackets.

Cobinna’s graphics incorporate hand printing. He said it’s “super messy” and represents the “madness of the mind.”

“Instead of shunning that and saying ‘this is chaos’ and ‘this is calm,’ I want to take both of those to make each other,” he said.

The clothing and modeling weren’t the only glowing talents on the stage.

Fraser, known as downgoes.fraser on Instagram, took control of the stage and hosted the night’s proceedings. Fraser said Black Explosion is the first time he’s been the host of a large-scale event.

Fraser, known best for his “Why You Always Lying” video, performed the parody song and stressed the importance of genuineness when bringing his online presence to the stage.

Rapper Nebu Kiniza took the stage to perform his trap-dominated hit “Gassed Up” at the show’s conclusion. The Caribbean SA’s dance team CrossFyah, boy-girl group Divergent, and a duet by Ethan Gray & Sasha Joseph also performed throughout the show.

BSU’s e-board, models and designers have been preparing for the show for months.

Fatima Drammeh, a freshman biomedical sciences major, modeled for both lines and said she appreciates the urban nature the clothing she wore. After modeling in ASA’s annual fashion show last year, she decided to try out for Black Explosion. 

Students from all over New York State came out to the event.

Amber Stokes, a graphic design student from Rochester, took the hour-long trip to Niagara Falls and went to the show with her friend. Stokes attended Black Explosion last year and her favorite was Proto By Space.

“The other ones look like stuff I could buy at the store. I feel like it’s not as hype as last year and I feel like the designs could be stronger. Last year, they had a lot of powerful and unique designs and a lot more models were confident.” Stokes said.

Caleb Vaughn, a UB alum, attended the show for the fourth time and said it’s nice to see people of color coming together to support each other.

In comparison to past years, Vaughn thought pleasantly of this year’s Black Explosion and liked the size of the venue and the bigger stage.

“The host was more interactive than other hosts that they’ve had in years past - so I really enjoyed the things that they’ve added, the things they’ve done different and the nicer location.”

Benjamin Blanchet is the assistant arts editor and can be reached at