I got sick and tired of waiting; Being told 'no'.
Tired of watching from the intern table designers who shopped all day to knock off others and call it "research".
Of "target markets" excusing disrespect and justifying exclusion of others.
Of design teams who disparaged their customer's taste but not above taking their money that funded their lifestyle.
Of walking in stores greeted with not a "hello" or "how can I help you?" but with "sales rack's in the back".
Of being asked to design for brands whose page on "diversity", had noone darker than a tan, Greek. We want you to design our product, but not wear it.
Of casting directors obsessing that the two black models "looked too much alike" on their white board of the other 26 pale faces we cast.
Of being forced to ask the black models who represent my brand, to do their own hair because despite asking several times months in advance before a show, our inquiries for hair stylists who knew how to style Black hair by organizers were ignored.
Of the disconnect of design teams from the earth and the Brown, Black, and Asian hands most if not, ALL, textile and clothing in this world passes through at some point in the supply chain.
And the most unforgivable: being told "sorry for your funeral" on my way to carry my grandmother's casket when I refused to back down from a former boss's power trip to bully me in the company chat thread when she knew it was the day of the funeral.
When we talk about privilege in Fashion, I think what we're really talking about is Opportunity. While it MIGHT exist for all, the frequency of that opportunity is where disparity lies, and an absence of diversity is the evidence.
What we've seen in the wake of COVID and protests against police brutality for the Black Lives Matter movement is the sobering reality of JUST HOW common that thread apparently connects us is. Framed in a biased lens, "viability" isn't so inclusive.
This industry has packaged, sold, and monetized education to pipeline three times the amount of fashion graduates than jobs available. When colleagues share their illegal, entry, below-poverty-level salaries, the prerequisite to work in Fashion is your ability to subsidize yet another company that reinforces their surface glamour but superficial substance to build one's right to a healthy and stable livelihood.
Companies I've met with scrambling for diversity now, tiptoe borderline offensive language of "charity" and "handouts". Even now, they fundamentally don't understand that all we want is visibility and a voice legitimized by ACCESS to sell on their global platforms. VIABLE.
When this industry chokes off Black opportunity and Black dignity from rooms in education where Black students are summarily dismissed and ignored in class critiques to the companies where they enter and employees print out Black faces of Black rappers to hold up to their faces for their costume to the company party, the path to entrepreneurship becomes the inevitable. We see gaps that you are INCAPABLE of seeing as problematic and symptoms of a systemic infection.
So in a forgotten dark corner in The Garment district, I built my studio into a coworking bright, blank, canvas-like space, conducive for design talent to thrive; For hidden figures in NYC in need of the infrastructure to design and scale to production.
DM me. I see you. and YOUR work (shakes head) is beyond worthy. If you're tired of being told no, tired of the shameless catalogue of offensive behavior and deafening silence to acknowledge our humanity and accountability for Fashion's sins, YOU have the power to say "no". NO MORE.