Mod Conscience

Afrobeatnik sells vintage clothing with modern values.

A stunning model sits in the sun, the staid neckline and sweet ruffles on her gingham dress spiced by a thigh-skimming hemline and oversized sunglasses. This woman is retro-cool incarnate—and one of the faces of Afrobeatnik, an online vintage clothing retailer and film production company launching this month.

The shop sells more than clothes, however. Its principles are front and center: diversity, individuality, sustainability. Beauty redefined.

“I want my life to be dedicated to fixing something, or contributing to something that unites people,” says Angela Moorer, creator of Afrobeatnik. “Especially here in Seattle, we keep to ourselves, we keep to our comfort zones. My whole thing is reaching out.”

Moorer grew up in Tri-Cities, Wash., where diversity was in short supply. When she left for larger cities—Seattle, with time spent in Baltimore—she was inspired by the proud, eclectic view of humanity she encountered. She also became more aware of her own race (Moorer is black) and how it affected her everyday interactions with the world. Diversity became a passion. Looking for an outlet to bring people together, she also sought a way to combine her two favorite art forms, fashion and film. “I jammed all my interests into one project and out came Afrobeatnik,” she says.

The result is a highly curated shop, full of clothing culled from all over the world that has either been repaired by a tailor or reinvented by a designer on Moorer’s growing team of artisans. “Untraditionally traditional” is how Moorer describes the aesthetic, a classic vibe that flirts with modernity. “For me it’s all about finding ways to make the old relevant and new without having to use resources to create new things.”

Some of the profits from the clothing arm of Afrobeatnik will fund short films featuring women who are historically underrepresented in the media. Moorer has a five-person video team on board, and their first effort, a documentary created in collaboration with media nonprofit What’s Good 206?, premieres at the Afrobeatnik launch party at Lucid Lounge on March 1. Also on the agenda are a fashion show and a performance by Catherine Harris-White, half of THEESatisfaction.

Down the line, Moorer hopes to create a larger film program as a separate nonprofit entity. She isn’t interested in a brick-and-mortar retail space, but office space is a priority—all of Afrobeatnik’s stock currently lives in her apartment. Until then, she has plenty to sort out as her passion project nears its launch date. But she isn’t doing it alone.

“I’ve been overwhelmed by the people who want to be involved,” she says. “Since it’s a startup no one is getting paid yet, but people feel like the Afrobeatnik brand speaks to them.”

Photo by Hannah Letinich