There are far too few minorities working in fashion, but one notable member of the fashion community is Tracy Reese. She was born in Detroit and graduated from Parsons School of Design in New York City. After working for fashion design houses including Perry Ellis, Ms. Reese started her own label in 1996. Her designs are carried at many well known stores and websites including Nordstrom, Anthropologie, Modcloth and Neiman Marcus. She became the sole African-American committee member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America in 2007. In 2016, she announced that her brand was becoming more size inclusive, making her clothing more accessible to a more extensive group of women.
That was an introduction for anyone not aware of who Tracy Reese is, since she is not as well known as Kate Spade or Donna Karan. So why is Tracy Reese my #WCW and why is inclusion and diversity important in fashion? Fashion is one of my first loves and I started drawing my own designs when I was around 6 or 7. I was the strange sort of child that actually enjoyed shopping for clothes. I would spend hours pouring over catalogues and magazines. Fashion was and is one of my passions. Even with this, no one ever told me I could be a fashion designer when I grew up. Of the designers I knew of, most of them were men and all of them were white. The fact that I could be a designer never occurred to me until singers and actresses began doing their own fashion lines.
The world needs more women like Tracy Reese to demonstrate to minority little girls that love fashion that they can be designers. Not only can they be designers, they can be greatly accomplished designers. Ms. Reese also sticks to her vision, offering fun, brightly colored clothing even when it not in vogue.
Ms. Reese is part of the movement that says one doesn’t have to be a certain size to be fashionable. For years, larger size clothing consisted of garish sacks in horrid colors. Everyone should have the chance to look beautiful and stylish and size should not keep someone from that.
On another note, I try to keep the news out of my blog, but recent headlines have made me need to speak out. Hello Gucci, Prada and Katy Perry, blackface is not fashion and it is not acceptable at all to release products that look like blackface, then pretend you didn’t know it is wrong, until someone calls you out. Blackface is hateful, hurtful and completely insulting. If there were more minorities in fashion, I believe these products wouldn’t make it to the stores and online shops.
If fashion is diverse and inclusive, it can be the fun, enchanting and wondrous experience that it has the potential to be.