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Black Fashion Editorial

Freaknik Fashion

By Maddison Hill

That's That FreakNik by Jack Turpen of Lakeisha Parks, Chimazu Ndukwe, AJ Malonson and Morgan Hughley / Styled by Jack Turpen / Hair and Makeup by Gabby Morris

A Party like no other; sexy, bold, freaky, and chic. In the words of Beyonce herself, “That’s that Freaknik.” 

Created by college students at HBCU’s in Atlanta, Georgia, Freaknik was an annual spring break festival that occurred in the mid-1980s and late 1990s. 

Freaknik started as a small picnic organized by students from Spelman and Morris Brown Universities, but quickly grew in popularity. As the picnic grew, it attracted students from nearby Black colleges. 

Freaknik rapidly transformed into a cultural phenomenon. Initially, a picnic organized for fun, Freaknik transformed into a festival with massive block parties and endless music. 

The festival gained a reputation for its weeklong celebration of African American culture, music, and fashion. The festival had parades, concerts, dance parties, basketball tournaments, a film festival, and a job fair. Freaknik grew so much in popularity that it attracted people from all over the United States.  

Although Freaknik was a phenomenon, it faced controversy. Atlanta officials worried about how the massive crowds and behavior of the attendees would affect the public’s safety. They also worried about traffic and the impact of the festival on residents. These concerns drove city officials to implement strict measures to control the event. By the late 1990s, the city of Atlanta decided to end the festival. 

Although Freaknik faced criticism and controversy, the fashion at the festival was particularly notable. The fashion at Freaknik was a celebration of art and design, with bright colors and vibrant patterns expressing the festive vibe. 

1990s hip-hop culture had an enormous influence on the fashion choices at Freaknik. Many outfits at the festival were loose-fitting, like baggy jeans and oversized T-shirts. Accessorizing was also an important part of the style. Each outfit was paired with statement pieces. Large hoop earrings, chunky jewelry, and baseball caps were essential statement pieces to achieve this style. 

Freaknik was a festival of expression. Many women used Freaknik to express their confidence and sexuality through fashion. Women wore tight-fitting and revealing clothes. An outfit often found at the festival included hot pants paired with a sexy top. Crop tops, corsets, denim, and shorts were other articles of clothing women would wear. Women often combined their outfits with belts, chunky necklaces, oversized sunglasses, and big earrings. Women completed their outfits with high heels and platforms. 

Body chains were popular among women at the festival. Chains were worn around the waist, draped over clothes, and paired with other accessories.


Hairstyles played a huge role in Freaknik fashion. Hairstyles were bold statements used for personal expression. Women would have elaborate hairstyles that incorporated braids, dreadlocks, and other traditional African American hairstyles. Women also accessorized their hair with beads, shells, clips, knockers, and more.


Another memorable aspect of Freaknik fashion was the nails. Nails were several inches long and colorful. Each set of nails was different, but all had unique designs and patterns. 

Sporty and athletic wear also found its place at Freaknik. Track suits, jerseys, and sneakers were popular choices among men. This preference for athletic attire reflected the urban street style and hip-hop culture during the 90s. 

Men also used fashion to express themselves at Freaknik. Men would wear colorful neon shirts paired with shorts and patch work pants. Men also accessorized by using bucket hats chains and traditional African inspired jewelry. 

Custom airbrushed outfits were another popular style embraced by both men and women at Freaknik. Since airbrushed outfits were one-of-a-kind, they were used to express creativity and individuality. 

Despite its end, Freaknik’s legacy lives on through fashion. 1990s hip-hop culture, oversized accessories, vibrant fashion, expressive hairstyles, elaborate nails, and unique outfits influence fashion today. The festival was not just an event, but a platform for self-expression and creativity, leaving an impact on cultural celebrations in the United States. 

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