Festival Style Made a Triumphant Return in New York Last Weekend

Transforming a local music and film festival into an internationally renowned event is no small feat, but Afropunk co-founder Matthew Morgan is preparing to do it for the second time. Billed as a “new platform and music carnaval” meant to “bridge the equity gap in entertainment for Black, Brown, and Asian people across all levels of the industry,” LETSgetFR.EE aims to harness the power of creativity to make change. Ahead of its official summer 2022 launch, LETS get FR.EE set up shop on a sweltering Saturday in Queens—the most linguistically and ethnically diverse county in the country—to give folks a taste of what they can look forward to.

In Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, just steps away from the iconic 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion, an eager crowd gathered to see and sing along to a lineup of performers including Goldlink, Mannie Fresh, Tony Touch, and multiple DJs associated with Everyday People, another live music event series with a special appeal. “Everyday People seems to bring out a lot of attractive attendees,” one audience member observed, and many of them came through sporting casual yet striking ensembles to boot.

Warm and utterly free of pretense, LETS get FR.EE felt as inviting as a family reunion, right down to the hearty food (think: souvlaki and jerk chicken) and spontaneous Electric Sliding. From family heirloom accessories to handmade garments and shoes swapped with friends, even the style on display came with stories that emphasized community. If this gathering is any indication of what’s to come, next summer’s launch will certainly be an event worth attending—with friends, loved ones, and a look worth striking up a conversation over. In the meantime, Vogue caught up with a few of the early-adopters this weekend to hear more about their looks for the occasion.

Shema Love, @shema.love

A woman of many talents, Shema Love is a visual artist, creative director, and registered nurse, one of the countless essential workers who kept New York going during some of its darkest days last year. “It was a lot,” she says of the ordeal, but she’s excited to be in attendance at events like these—she was especially looking forward to seeing GoldLink perform. Her casual-meets-tactical look featured pants by Local European and a Zara harness paired with a selection from Love’s 100+ pairs of sneakers. A consummate sneakerhead, she’s working on an exhibition titled SneakHer Gallery. “I’m drawn to women designers and collabs,” she says, accordingly. “I try to steer clear of trends.”