Last summer’s mass movement against police violence and racist inequality in the United States may have been the start of something. Now, industries across America are beginning to take stands to counter the injustices people of color face in this country every day. Though there is more work to be done, powerful actors are starting to make changes, responding to the citizenry’s demands for equality and representation for all, no matter their skin color or economic status.
Unfortunately, like other industries in America, fashion has a long history of excluding Black creators. But Macy’s is aiming to change that with its Icons of Style collections, dropping five collaborative capsules made in concert with some of the country’s leading Black creative minds. For Icons of Style, the retailer has teamed with Black visionaries to create fashion reflecting the diversity of its customer base.
Earlier this year, we told you about Macy’s first Icons of Style drop, which featured collections from Zerina Akers, Misa Hylton, Aminah Abdul Jillil, Allen Onyia, and Ouigi Theodore. Now, Macy’s is back with its second set of Icons of Style releases, including a hotly-anticipated Allen Onyia for INC capsule and a covetable Ouigi Theodore collection for Sun + Stone.
Ahead of the release of those capsules, Complex spoke with Onyia and Theodore to hear their thoughts on being Black creators in the United States, authentic representation, access to the fashion industry, and how they feel about their innovative partnerships with Macy’s.
Read on, then be sure to watch the videos below where the creators have personal chats with Durand Guion, the Vice President of Macy’s Fashion Office. After that, stay tuned for Onyia and Theodore’s Macy’s collections dropping May 28.
For Allen Onyia, this Macy’s collaboration is a dream come true. With fond childhood memories of the retailer, the founder of UpscaleHype says he’s honored to contribute his designs to a brand working to perpetuate positivity and inclusion in fashion. For his Macy’s INC collection, he took casual, ready-to-wear pieces and turned them into conversation starters. Before that capsule drops later this month, see what Onyia told us about his personal style and what his Macy’s INC collection represents.
Onyia on What His Collection Represents:
My collection pays homage to Macy’s and what they’re most recognized for: the end of year Thanksgiving holiday parade, the tradition, and everything surrounding that. For me, the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade gave me a feeling of triumph, unity, and togetherness. This collection was designed at the end of 2020, and that’s where my mind was. I want people to feel that we made it through all the stages of the parade, so it’s a celebration.
Onyia on His Personal Sense of Style:
My friend recently described my style as “attainable high fashion.” This collection reflects that, with the belted trouser and the etching details. It’s attainable not only in the price, but also the styles. My style is effortless, clean, sharp and edgy. And I think it’s reflected in this collection.
Onyia on the Black Representation in Fashion:
No one can communicate better to us than us. No one can understand our plight better than us, so let us tell our story through many channels. And for me, this is just one of those channels.
As the Creative Director of the New York-based Brooklyn Circus clothing brand, Ouigi Theodore’s work is in high demand. Born in Port-au-Prince and raised in both Haiti and The United States, the esteemed designer has developed a sense of duality that informs both his personal life and how he creates his work. Theodore says his Macy’s collab is a tug-of-war between love and hate, where love ultimately wins. The line boasts both classic and contemporary elements, offering customers a mix of past, present, and future in a wearable package. Like Theodore himself, the collection is a nuanced and intentional fusion that pays homage to the timelessness Macy’s represents. With those ideas in mind, Theodore recently took a few moments to chat with Complex about his craft, his inspiration, and Black culture within fashion.
Theodore on Staying True to Inspiration:
The collection is special because it is true to my design approach, which includes lots of hidden references and details. I stayed true to my love of classic items and my approach to making things contemporary and future proof. And it’s dedicated to my mother who was born in 1945 and to soldiers coming home from the war.
Theodore on the Importance of Access:
I love the accessibility factor. I am happy to be working on a project on this scale that will be available to fans and friends all over the country at such an approachable price point and yet still be authentic.
Theodore on Black Culture in Fashion:
Black creatives and Black style are owed by the industry. This moment in history is long overdue and only the tip of the iceberg. Black culture and creativity is not a trend. It’s permanent. Value it as such. Period!