Julia Coston published the first fashion magazine for Black women, ” Ringwood’s Afro-American Journal of Fashion in 1891.”
Coston was born in 1863 on Ringwood’s Farm in Warrenton, Virginia. Her family migrated from their southern plantation home to Washington, D.C., following the Civil War. In Washington, she spent much of her postbellum childhood in school, excelling and enjoying it. Her later childhood was spent as the family breadwinner; she was forced to drop out of school at the age of 13 and work as a governess in the home of a Union general and was eventually able to continue her studies.
She married William H. Coston, who was an author and graduate of Wilberforce and Yale Divinity School. He published ‘A Freeman and Yet a Slave’ in 1884. The Costons moved to Cleveland, Ohio where her husband became the pastor of Saint Andrew’s Church. Coston began publishing her Ringwood’s Afro-American Journal of Fashion.
The magazine was described as “a beautiful 12-page journal, and the only publication of its kind in circulation. Ringwood’s Afro-American Journal of Fashion carried illustrations of the latest Paris fashions along with articles, biographical compositions of outstanding black women and promising young ladies. The paper sold for $1.25 a year. For two years, from 1893 to 1895, Coston published a second journal: Ringwood’s Home Magazine, however, the magazine was not as successful as the first.
Julia Coston died on June 1, 1931, in Washington, D.C., of an apparent heart attack at the age of 68.