Young Detroit designers are heading to New York Fashion Week to represent the city with two Afrofuturism-inspired looks created under the guidance of experienced design mentors.
The Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Michigan made this possible with its signature Industry Club program, launched in 2020 to help prepare young people for careers in various fields. The Fashion Industry Club was the first of eight industries available for local young people to gain experience.
In partnership with a Black-owned retailer based in New York Black House, the Boys and Girls Club will present its second show at New York Fashion Week this season, which runs from February 9-14. Spearheaded by Detroit native Tori Nichel, Maison Black not only highlights Black designers, but also extends its reach through the Maison Black Foundation, dedicated to fostering Black youth in the arts. The foundation helps connect young designers with experienced New York-based fashion innovators.
This season’s mentors include Aaron Potts, Patrick Cupid, Dreu Breckemberg, Carlton Jones, Shelley Victory and Lola Faturoti, who have worked closely with Fashion Industry Club youth designers Nas Eli, Zyana H., Lydia M., Logan H. and TaLeah. H for the last seven months.
Logan, who is 16, says she has been interested in fashion since she was 7 or 8 years old and started at the Fashion Industry Club during her freshman year of high school, calling the experience something she will “never forget.” Nas, an 18-year-old who is also part of the group, has been interested in fashion since high school and shares a similar sentiment, saying that the club has been the “opportunity of a lifetime” for him.
“For me, working with my mentor Aaron Potts, I would say it’s been out of this world,” Nas says. “It helped me find my confidence, it helped me find a way to communicate myself and my concepts through my appearance in a more professional way, and it really helped me open up and express my ideas stronger.”
Afrofuturism, the theme of this year’s show, has immense meaning for girls. An aesthetic associated with science fiction, Logan and Nas imagine Afrofuturism as a catalyst for unity within the black community, celebrating its rich heritage while embracing a visionary future.
“I believe that Afro-punk culture is Afrofuturism and that I and the other young women who participate in the program are contributing to Afro-punk culture and allowing us to create a community where black designers, black women designers, can be elevated and I congratulate them for all the talents and hard work they have put into this program,” says Logan.
There are mixed emotions in the air as the girls prepare for their next trip, but positivity and gratitude are at the forefront.
“I’m a little nervous just because I don’t know what to expect because it’s my first time going to New York, but I’m really excited for the experience and opportunities the trip will bring,” Logan says.
Nas adds that seeing his friends from the Detroit Youth Choir travel to New York to perform at Carnegie Hall in the recently released Disney+ series Chorus It inspired her and made her even more excited about the trip.
“They’re from Detroit, they’re going to New York and they’re doing great things,” Nas says. “They are getting positive or negative comments, but they still did something, so that inspired me to keep going in the same way. What happens, happens. At least I came, I showed up, I did what I had to do and I’m going to move forward.”
Both young women are proud of themselves and feel that their stories can have an impact not only on the youth of Detroit but on people everywhere.
“People look at Detroit and see the amazing things that young people are doing in Detroit, and it inspires them to keep going,” Logan says. “In my opinion, that is literally Afrofuturism.”
“All of this really shines a light on how brilliant young people in Detroit are because Detroit is seen as such a negative place, such a negative environment, but look at us,” Nas adds. “I feel like within these different things, like the choir and the Boys and Girls Club, we’re creating a whole new culture for Detroit, we’re creating a whole new perspective on Detroit, which a lot of people can’t do for their city, so I think which is a really good thing.”
After high school, Logan plans to major in fashion design at an art school and Nas plans to create his own fashion brand.
“The Boys and Girls Club has helped me find that vision and see myself in [fashion] positions,” says Logan. “I really just want everyone to know that every girl on the show will be somewhere one day. We are all on the verge of being great people in whatever career path we embark on, but everyone needs to take care of us because we will really be up there.”
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