By Chantelle Simmons
The fashion industry has always caught flack for its lack of diversity among models. Take a look backstage and the problem persists. African American fashion designers are not few and far between, yet they continue to struggle for the same notoriety as their white counterparts. Delve further into the pool, and one will see numerous queer Black male designers. If the coin is flipped, queer and trans Black female designers are a rarity. Seeking to highlight the underrepresented (because let’s face it: representation matters), here are six Black queer and trans women fashion designers you should know.
1. Isis King: www.kingisis.com
A past contestant on the 11th and 17th cycle of the reality television show America’s Next Top Model, Isis was the first openly trans woman to compete on the series. Claiming fashion design as her first talent, she debuted her clothing collection, “The Goldest Winter Ever,” at the 2013 New York Fashion Week. [Check out what Isis King had to say to ELIXHER Magazine in our fall/winter 2013 issue’s “She Said/She Said” column.]
2. Sheila Amera Rashid: www.sheilarashid.com
A Columbia College alum who took it upon herself to learn the basics of sewing and design, Shelia’s self-named clothing line features pieces that are handcrafted, ensuring originality and quality.
3. VV PATCHOULI: www.vvpatchouli.com
This up-and-coming bag designer combines craftsmanship (each piece is hand-stitched) with quality (they’re made from artisan leathers from around the world; think Italy, Spain, Turkey and France) to produce classic leather goods. Her brand began with the idea of creating a boutique, but in that process she realized her true vision: crafting her own collection of luxury items that blend “subtle playfulness, elegant tradition and worldly aesthetics.”
4. Tae: www.thebrklynstore.com
A Howard University alumni, Tae is a self-taught artist that has created “The Brklyn Store,” which features clothing accessories, apparel, and artwork created and designed by the Brooklynite.
5. Breezy: www.cocoandbreezy.com
Part of a designer duo, Breezy (right) crafts edgy sunglasses with her twin sis, Coco (left). You may have spotted their eccentric designs on celebs like Rhianna, Lady Gaga, and Nicki Minaj. You can also snag their apparel and totes with their original artwork. [Read what Coco and Breezy had to say about what inspires them in our spring/summer 2014 ELIXHER Magazine issue.]
Photo credit: quistyle by Mangue Banzima
6. Tee Fergus: www.iamnattee.tumblr.com
Toronto-based, Fergus is a tattoo artist, photographer, and painter that has created a line which includes clothing and accessories that are covered in her paintings and drawings. Check it out here.
Know of any other queer and trans Black women fashion designers that are not featured on the list? List them in the comments.
Chantelle Simmons is an up-and-coming writer from Charleston, South Carolina. She is a senior at the College of Charleston who enjoys people-watching and discussing the world in which she lives from an informed perspective. Chantelle majors in communication with a specialization in journalism, enjoys writing about social and cultural trends, fashion, music, and alternative approaches to life. She has contributed to multiple campus publications as a staff writer and runs a personal blog.