It’s always a breath of fresh air when Black
I always find it interesting that a lot of male designers create gowns and dresses for women. Does your vision for what you execute reflect what you'd like to see on women, or what you've seen on women that you've loved?
I think that’s exactly it. Look at it from the biological perspective of natural selection. Being of the opposite sex, there are features you can appreciate and find desirable from an objective standpoint. Those are the same features one looks to highlight with clothing acting simply as the spotlight. Furthermore, a smart designer of the opposite sex listens to what the woman around them are saying and can process that into a beautiful interpretation of a woman’s image.
A lot of readers love to gasp and awe over the fashion collections presented during fashion week. But, how easy is it for a real, everyday woman to actually purchase your pieces? Most of our readers love to support Black owned fashion, but can't find it to buy.
As new designer, speaking for myself, arguably it takes so much more to produce and supply a collection for retail, than putting it on the runway. Production is a huge part of fashion business, and must be executed with precision. Undoubtedly, having a stock list, brick and mortar, even e-commerce for any designer is a dream; myself included, but can be a tricky slope to maneuver in the beginning. With time I look to expand my brand include those parts of the business and reach real women.
What do you wish for women to convey when wearing your designs?
A quiet power. There is something very alluring about a woman who can command attention when she walks into a room, and what she’s wearing is the non-verbal communication of that power. Her, most, first impression. I feel the woman that wears my clothing understands her sex appeal as well, but it is not definitive of her or her look, rather a compliment.
I worked at Nordstrom in Annapolis Maryland, and one thing I noticed was that they always had a premium collection of uncomplicated yet trendy pieces for real, everyday women. Do you feel like being at Nordstrom inspired your fashion aesthetic at all?
I learned so much from working at Nordstrom. Nordstrom is really where I place the beginning of my career in fashion when I was hired there at 16 years old. I was privileged to work in the downtown Portland Nordstrom which had a large “Collectors/Via –C” [designer dept] in addition to in store boutiques from mega brands like Chanel and Gucci. For much of the 5 years that I worked for Nordstrom I was fortunate to work in both the higher end men’s and women’s department, which really shaped my perspective on design. Having a background in luxury retail for the last ten years now has given me what I feel to be a real understanding of design because I have been on both end of the business. Obviously design now, but the imperative part of interacting with real clients and not the “designed client” in a concept meeting taught me a lot.
If you could put into just a few words of what it's really like being a Black fashion designer, what would you say?
It’s an honor. I feel you see many black people in different arenas of fashion and beauty who are quite successful. Editors, models, make up artists, stylists, bloggers, but the design arena is still quite vacant. The possibility to become one of the respected contributors in the design realm of fashion is a humbling opportunity.
(Photo: Courtesy of Nnamdi Agum)