3 Black Denim Designers You Need to Know – Sourcing Journal

0

From shopping guides highlighting black-owned businesses to retailers featuring products made by black designers, fashion industry players have made various efforts over the past year to bring black-owned businesses to black people at the forefront of fashion. But sometimes it’s better to know more about the person behind the product. And what garment is more personal than jeans, after all?

Here, three black designers talk about why they are drawn to denim and how the sustainable fabric is a platform for self-expression, creativity and the realization of their dreams.

Aalim Abdul, founder of Aalim Abdul

RIVET: What made you want to create a denim brand?

Aalim Abdul: Denim was my canvas for personal expression at a time when I was beginning to understand myself. As a young teenager looking for comfort in his sexuality, the freestyle and customization of my jeans was my way of expressing those colorful feelings outwardly. It slowly became an outlet for me to be unabashedly myself. I knew it was an experience I wanted
share with others.

RIVET: Who is your client and what do you keep in mind when designing for them?

AA: Because I don’t live by gender norms, my client is just a forward-thinking individual with strong self-esteem who isn’t afraid to speak out loud. This creates room for inclusivity and freedom of expression. My jeans are for everyone. As a bespoke designer, during the design process I intentionally ensure that no two pairs of denim are the same. This encourages my client to recognize [what] distinguishes them from others.

RIVET: What does it mean to you to be a black fashion designer?

AA: For me, being a black fashion designer is about creating for a larger purpose. Everything I do is centered around storytelling. It’s about creating a message that can advance black art and inspire others to think outside the box. Drawing on my experience as a queer black male is central to what I do.

Aalim Abdul
Courtesy

RIVET: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next five years?

AA: My goal is to be in a position where I release collections without constantly taking long breaks. As a creative working from 9am to 5pm, life becomes overwhelming. Often I tend to step back for a long period of time to regroup. Having my brand fully supported without those long breaks is where I want to be.

I also want to give voice to those who will come after me. One thing that is close to my heart is to create opportunities for other young black creatives who may feel compelled to go to a school or institution in order to cultivate their natural creativity. My current experience as a self-taught designer is proof that it is possible on your own. Whether it’s in the front or back of my brand, saving space in the future for those kids is a big part of why I’m doing this.

Alexis Colby, founder of Bit of Denim

RIVET: What made you want to create a denim brand?

Alexis Colby: I’ve loved denim since college. I had a brand at the time, VampedCo, where I made shorts and hand-studded and tie-dyed them. Once I moved to New York, I got back into denim and made a denim rug for my bedroom. It was so much fun creating with denim, I stuck with it and Bit of Denim was born.

RIVET: Who is your client and what do you keep in mind when designing for them?

AC: I create for individuals, not for the masses, so my client is someone who likes to stand out. Someone who loves unique pieces that are [one-of-a-kind]. When creating, I make sure to push the envelope and think about what I haven’t seen done with denim and execute from there.

RIVET: What does it mean to you to be a black fashion designer?

AC: It means creating my own mini-world in the fashion world. Let’s be honest, this industry is not designed for black designers to succeed, so it’s up to all black creatives, myself included, to work hard and push our creativity to its fullest potential. We have to build our own ways.

RIVET: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next five years?

AC: Over the next five years, I see Bit of Denim tapping into footwear, expanding into retail in Japan and Europe, and expanding our creativity into the art world with installations. Big things on the way.

Sheila Rashid, Founder of Sheila Rashid, LLC

RIVET: What made you want to create a denim brand?

Sheila Rashid: I wanted to create a denim brand because initially I wanted to wear my own denim and have my own cuts because I couldn’t find what I was looking for elsewhere.

RIVET: Who is your client and what do you keep in mind when designing for them?

SR: My clients are people who appreciate the art of denim. I tend to do basic pieces that you can basically wear every day. I like to call it luxury denim. I tend to pay attention to detail, flexibility and durability in cuts and styles.

Aalim Abdul, Alexis Colby and Sheila Rashid share how they turn their creativity into denim businesses.

Sheila Rachid
Courtesy

RIVET: What does it mean to you to be a black fashion designer?

SR: Being a black designer means being a blessing. I can do what I love in life.

RIVET: Where do you hope to see your brand in the next five years?

SR: Over the next five years, I see my brand reaching new repeat customers through e-commerce, social media, and word-of-mouth. I see more collaborations and new collections.

Victor Vaughns Jr. is associate editor for WWD.

Share.

Comments are closed.