“Here’s how the real story goes,” Janaye Furman says candidly. We’re on a call that the model and Riot Picks founder takes from Studio City, California, where she’s working on her new collection and explaining the moment that her mom gifted her first Afro pick. “Basically, holiday time comes around, my mom’s cleaning out the garage,” Furman remembers. “She sees an Afro pick, and I’m like, ‘Oh, this is cool. It’s one of those black-fist ones! I don’t have an Afro pick.” And she was like, ‘Wait, what? You don’t have an Afro pick? This whole time?’” By then Furman was in her early 20s and signed exclusively with Louis Vuitton, the house where she made history as the first Black woman to open its show for Nicolas Ghesquière’s spring 2018 runway collection. 

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Soon Furman was wearing the pick at Paris Fashion Week. “People backstage would be like, ‘Do you know there’s something in your hair?’ and I’d be like, ‘Of course I do,’” she says with a laugh. “And then people on the streets would be like, ‘That’s cool, what is that?’” She found herself stopping to explain its meaning everywhere she went. “I realized so many people don’t know about Afro picks and what they mean,” Furman says. “I’d be like, ‘This fist means Black power, it comes from the civil rights movement,’ and the more that happened, the more I realized that people need to know about this.” She intentionally wore her pick for paparazzi photos, and photographers began asking her where it was if it wasn’t visible.  

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For now, though, she wants to make sure her message is clear: “One thing I really want to put out there is that this is all about me being open about what I’m learning, what I want to know about my history and my culture,” says Furman. “I think this is a great opportunity to dive into their culture and what it means to be Black. Everybody feels like they have to be right all the time, that they have to know everything all the time—this is about exploration.”  

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