As eye-catching as some of the collections in this season’s installment of the Black in Fashion Council showroom are, the designers’ plans are even more interesting.
The appointment-only location is open through Tuesday at Highline 9, where you can find lines at Amari Carter, BruceGlen, GVDŠ, Kaayahri, Nia Thomas, Omol, Qoh Jewelry, Silver and Riley, and V. Bellan. During a tour on Sunday, some of the creatives talked about their companies.
Wearing brightly colored garments they had designed, BruceGlen designers Bruce and Glen Proctor described how collaborative their lives are. After participating in the Black in Fashion Council showroom, the couple had to fly to Milan for one showroom and then to Paris for another. They are also working on an animated video series titled “The Adventures of Bruce and Glen” and plan to release a cartoon series after that.
Instead of having a show like they have done in the past, they opted to do the showroom, for their own mental health and to take a break from the craziness that comes with putting on a show. “Change the subject” has also allowed them to talk to people individually about the spring collection and its inspiration. On and off for the past 17 years, the duo has owned the BruceGlen brand, and for the past three years it has been as it is known today.
Distribution is through Saks Fifth Avenue and Shopbop, as well as direct to consumer. Selling to major retailers “legitimizes” a brand, according to the co-founders, who epitomized how people’s interest changes dramatically after learning they sell to Saks. Based in downtown Los Angeles for the past two years, the couple lived in New York and return monthly. After becoming familiar with West Coast life, especially the abundance of sunshine and a rooftop pool, they said living in New York had somewhat “enthralled” them because of the “hustle and craziness” of the city. “We had high blood pressure,” Glen Proctor said.
“Los Angeles made us slow down and take a breath. “We have been working to improve that aspect day by day,” added Bruce Proctor.
By living and working together, they said they’ve also gotten better at not talking about shopping on the weekends, preferring a regularly scheduled brunch and rooftop time. They are also ministers and founded a church in Los Angeles called “The Church,” which has a branch at Open Jar Studios in Manhattan. They said the community turned out to be collaborative, as many of the members are artists and other creatives.
Participating in the showroom for the first time, Muktar Onifade, founder of GVDŠ, spoke about his winding path to his career in fashion. The Nigerian-born designer divides his time between Lagos, where the collection is made, and Los Angeles. Pronounced “Gods,” the acronym means being gifted with various visual abilities. With a background in mechanical engineering, he attended Georgia Tech. He then worked at General Motors in Detroit for four years as a calibration specialist for “high-level, high-security” new cars, meaning the complete designs of the models are hidden from some, who work on them in the early stages of development. , for property purposes.
Despite not having had any training in fashion, Onifade used the money from her first salary to buy a sewing machine. Being self-taught, he spent nights after work teaching himself how to sew and quietly developing his brand in a small Detroit apartment. Learning how to fit a sleeve correctly was a six-month exercise, but once that happened and he made his first garment, his life changed forever.
After leaving GM in 2017, Onifade moved to Los Angeles to focus more on his company. During the pandemic, he decided to spend more time in Nigeria so he could promote African crafts. His debut collection consists primarily of all-black styles, including a slimming blazer with multiple cutouts. Pointing to the GVDŠ range, he said: “When you think of African designs, you don’t necessarily think of silhouettes like this. More attention is paid to contemporary African pieces that are colorful and fluid. Those are beautiful. But with my engineering background, I wanted to focus more on a minimalist aesthetic,” he said.
The designer said he is using African symbolism in different ways to reflect his culture and heritage, and also to inspire Nigerian designers to realize: “‘Hey, you can really do this at the highest level locally.’ There are a lot of stigmas.” false statements about what can be made in Africa because of quality, resources and prices – the list goes on,” Onifade said. “There has to be someone who takes the risk of showcasing design in Africa.”
His intention is to build a design language with the lines and cuts of his African silhouettes and symbols. For example, Ghanaian symbols such as “the all-seeing eye” are used on a bracelet and on the metal chain of a futuristic bag, which can be removed and can function as a keychain. GVDŠ sells for between $350 and $2,500.