Revive: The Organization of Black Unity’s first ever virtual fashion show

Story by Ella Weidner

Graphic courtesy of OBU’s logo

Central Michigan University’s Organization for Black Unity is hosting its 21st annual fashion show within the next two to three weeks. Ngosa Pepala and Brittany Jones, this year’s co-head directors, worked with 11 of their peers to produce this year’s themed show, Revive. Due to Covid-19, this will be the first year the production will be broadcasted in a video format rather than a typical, in-person runway show. This event is free to watch and will be available in a video format on OBU’s Instagram, @obufashionshow. Prior to the video being released, OBU is posting behind the scenes model photos and creating interactive content for its followers to participate in to get excited for the upcoming video.

The Organization for Black Unity, a registered student organization on Central Michigan University’s campus that focuses on demonstrating black culture, will be showcasing its 21st annual fashion show within the next two weeks on its Instagram page, @obufashionshow.

Ngosa Pepala, a CMU senior majoring in neuroscience and psychology, and Brittany Jones, a CMU senior majoring in fashion merchandising, are this year’s co-head directors who oversee the entire show.

With them, they have a total of 11 other students on their team who have helped make this year’s production possible since the COVID-19 pandemic made them unable to recruit volunteers.

“It’s not your average fashion show, it’s more like demonstrating black culture through fashion,” Pepala said. “Our music, our style, from clothing to hair to lashes to nails.”

There is a lot of choreography according to Jones, making this a very non-traditional fashion show where they demonstrate what is going on in the African American culture at the time. Due to COVID-19, this year’s show focuses on the past.

“Our theme is called Revive, and basically with that we are reviving fashion, music, and art from the past,” Pepala said. “We picked different eras, the 70s, 80s, 90s and 2000s.”

A lot of current fashion styles are recycled from the past, making it easy for the production crew to find the outfits needed for OBU’s very first video production.

This year, the OBU fashion production will be shown in a video format that is quarantine friendly. The crew recorded a video, different from what they have done in the past. This will be something that can go into the books, Pepala said, because people are used to attending actual shows.

“The video format itself is the exciting part because people can go back and re-watch it,” Jones said. “We will have stuff on our social media for them to interact with to play into our theme and the video itself.”

The OBU Fashion Show is free every year and will be released on its Instagram page later this month.

“We had initially planned to release the video in February, but because of Covid and trying to find different locations we pushed it back,” Jones said. “Right now, we are waiting for the video to be edited before we release it.”

Pepala and Jones said if anyone is interested in becoming a volunteer, model or director for next year’s show, there will be an announcement made on the Instagram page when applications are posted on Engage Central.

The co-head directors recruit people with and without experience, but do request samples of work to be submitted with the application depending on the position you apply for.

Adding one last thought, Jones said, “although we are an organization based on black unity, we are very diverse and invite everyone to be a part of the show.”