As house beats reverberated over Union Market’s Common Thread, attendees of Thursday, November 18’s debut of the DC Fall Fashion Collective gravitated to an eclectic curation of re-sourced vintage, whimsical graphic prints and sustainably-woven textiles.
The collective sheds visibility on the importance of representation in the District’s growing fashion community by featuring the works of women and LGBTQ-owned labels, says Yasmin Paraskevas, founder of the DC Fall Fashion Collective.
“At the root of every community is a small business,” Paraskevas says. “We decided this was a good way to bring the community together in a creative way, and support the Whitman Walker Foundation in return.”
Advancing Creative Endeavors Through Inclusivity and Representation
Aryan Ghafourian is the creator of The Otterly, a queer culture apparel line with cleverly kitsch, body-inclusive messaging. The most recent collection — which features an oversized tee with the inscription ‘bald, bearded, beautiful,’ and mug that reads ‘it’s the beard for me’ — came out of his personal battle with modern beauty standards.
Ghafourian values the platform that the DC Fall Fashion Collective provides for LGBTQ creatives to showcase their work.
“It’s nice to have a place that embraces you, and is inclusive so you can really shine,” Ghafourian says.
Johniece and LaTosha Coleman, of the blinged-out accessory label Coleman Girls Collection, echoed a similar sentiment. The pair style crocs with bejeweled giblets, design maximalist phone cases, and embroider made-to-order apparel. As double-minority business owners (the Colemans identify as African American women), LaTosha emphasizes, “It is so important for people to know to buy small and support minorities.”
J.C. Smith is the Co-founder of the Bailiwick Company, a Black-owned clothing line known for ‘The 51st State’ and ‘The 202’ branding. As an ally to women and LGBTQ-owned labels, Smith echoed the significance of bringing designers together in a space that advances the work of minority designers.
“In D.C. the rents and the leases are so high — it’s important to have spaces that are affordable for younger makers starting off; something that we can embrace at a lower cost as a vehicle to get our creativity out.”
Incorporating the Principles of Slow Fashion and Ethical Manufacturing
The vibrant prints and saturated hues of HappyFlores vintage encourage sustainable and societal revitalization within D.C.’s fashion scene. At the helm of the label, HappyFlores Curator Yeleny Rivera-Flores challenges people to live sustainably, live boldly and encourage reinvention — all whilst carving a space for Latina-owned labels.
“We the people are the ones that shape the culture,” she says. “Bringing certain belief sets and values into spaces where they weren’t valued before creates growth.”
Indonesian-American textile artist Metrini Geopani is a zealous proponent of ethical consumerism. Alluding to the pervasive exploitation of foreign garment workers, she questions: “People can buy products from different countries, but does it run by their own people?”
Ultimately, Geopani’s desire to break this trajectory led to the creation of BATAX — Indonesian-inspired textiles weaved using ethically-sourced materials.
Created along a similar vein, Niko Kokkinos’ urban street style brand Modern Lusso sources organic and eco-friendly designs from Greece, featuring the talent of Athens-based creatives. Kokkinos fuses the essence of Greek ‘openness’ into the brands’ fall heritage collection, while upholding principles of slow fashion. He regards a statement tee with an impressionistic pomegranate — hand-painted and imprinted by a Greek artist — as most encapsulating this ethos.
Empowering the District’s Creative Community Through Connection
In its entirety, the DC Fall Fashion Collective captured the euphoric sensation of collaboration that exists within the District’s growing fashion community. Event attendee and DMV-based photographer Amber Simms eloquently synthesized the energy of this inclusive collective — an artful, immersive experience that upheld the importance of connection within D.C.’s creative spaces.
“It’s really important for all of these groups of people to come out and support one another and have a spotlight directly on them — we’re here, we’re present, we’re doing our thing in the city — it’s empowering,” she says.
DC Fall Fashion Collective: 1268 4th Street NE, DC; @dc_fall_fashion_collective
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