D.C.’s got style. With everything from cute streetwear to tailored suits, plenty of people turn heads just walking down city streets. But who’s making their clothing, helping them decide what looks good and dreaming up the latest in fashion? It’s the designers of the city, the tailors, the entrepreneurs. Here is one of the 14 must-know figures in fashion from the DMV. Check out our October Issue for the full coverage.
Founder, CEO + designer at Sun Gods
District Fray: How do you go about handcrafting clothes, from design to finished project?
LaShawn Kenley: Sun Gods is a slow fashion business where our designs are made in-house by our own team of seamstresses. We either sketch or drape the look of the design, then use [the mockup] to draw or cut out the pattern and sew the fabric together to achieve the final look. This then becomes the prototype for making the design in different sizes.
How do you ensure your clothes are sustainable and ethically sourced?
Prior to the pandemic, I would physically go to various countries within the Black and brown diaspora and visit artisans and souks creating and selling fabric to ensure its authenticity. You just have to touch and feel everything. Throughout the pandemic we made it work. I still look back like wow, what a way to pivot and not miss a beat during the height of it all.
What inspired you to start Sun Gods? What motivates you to keep going and grow the business?
I started Sun Gods for two reasons: to build a legacy for my family and community, and have a fashion brand that speaks to my community within the bohemian space. I love stores such as Free People and Anthropologie. Such beautiful brands, but I didn’t see myself reflected in these stores when growing up. The color palettes were always very light (using pastel hues) and that doesn’t look the best on brown skin tones. I love mixing Black culture and the diaspora with free-flowing, bohemian-inspired designs. This is what created Sun Gods. Seeing the continuous support from our tribe we lovingly call “people of the sun” also keeps me motivated because everyone is so invested and wants to see us do great. It’s the genuine love for the brand that keeps me going.
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