I have been sewing and attempting to make fashions since I was a young child. My grandmother sparked my interest by allowing me to choose patterns and fabrics to create matching outfits for my dolls and me. Selecting fabrics has remained my favorite part of the process as I continued to experiment with clothes making throughout my childhood and adolescence.
To my disappointment, everything I made fell short of my vision and my peers were quick to point it out. Being a weird, creative kid is never easy. I was teased for my quirky outfits, body hair, and perceived lesbianism on a regular basis. The clothes I made and wore included rainbow colored arm warmers, tattered shirts with lots of safety pins, upcycled denim skirts, and other youthful fashion experiments.
However, the narrow conception of what it meant to be “fashionable” did not resonate with me. I saw fashion as frivolous, inaccessible, and pretentious. Fashion was for “cool” and wealthy people. Despite the misalignment of my values with mainstream fashion, the desire to create wearable art never left me.
I began working with Chance Fashion in the spring of 2015 when I participated in the first Olympia Edition as a hair stylist, that was my profession at the time. I was not yet producing clothing on a regular basis because the path of a fashion designer still seemed uninviting and near impossible. Even though working in fashion was a professional goal of mine, I was still nervous to get involved because the word “fashion” still conjured a feeling of exclusiveness to me.
My first fashion show with Chance turned out to be a very positive experience for me. Seeing designers my own age making unpretentious and accessible fashions made me feel included in the fashion industry for the first time. Pushing past my social anxiety, I approached Ryan Muller and asked if I could participate as a designer. He did not hesitate to invite me to the upcoming Alternative and Streetwear Edition.
My first show as a designer was success because it broke the ice and made me realize I could take myself seriously as a designer. I created fashions that reminded me of Japanese streetwear, and although I was far off the mark, I was just happy to be making clothes. Throughout 2015 I participated in four more Chance events as well as AMDEF. By the fall, I was determined to a be a fashion designer and began tailoring my education at The Evergreen State College around it.
Throughout 2016, I participated in six shows, including AMDEF, and this year has proven to be even more busy and productive. The Lingerie Show was my first show in 2017 and was a great success. Not only did I produce a multitude of garments, I sold an entire one-of-a-kind luxury look right off the runway. As the year has unfolded, I have produced a Spring/Summer line and have plans to make more swimwear, as well as experiment with fantasy wear over the summer. For this year’s AMDEF, I would like to incorporate dance and movement, one of my other creative outlets.
Chance Fashion has been the platform I didn’t know I needed to create and grow as an artist. I have a deep appreciation for the Chance family. The contributions of the production team, photographers, hair and makeup artists, and models are all intrinsic pieces to the broader vision of creating a more inclusive fashion community. I am also grateful for the relationships I’ve built with other designers, who have inspired me to sharpen my skills and fully blossom into my weird self. I could not be where I am without the people and opportunities I have encountered through Chance Fashion.