Four Fashion Designers Redefining Houston’s Style Scene

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“Opportunity,” Joshua Allen Springer pointed out when asked to define what “new Houston” means for the aspiring designer. Springer’s designs have spanned Bayou town all the way to the Big Apple – and back home – with an optimistic, but timely response. Fashion designer Richard & Grace details how his return home due to the pandemic greatly disrupted his aura of design. On the other hand, a revival was worth more than life in New York could ever offer. “I recently learned art history myself where I appreciate the fine art community much more than Houston has to offer. So when I think of the new Houston, I think of a rebirth.

The idea of ​​a rebirth carries the essence of what the future holds for the city’s fashion community. A future where opportunity can come true for star designer assistants. The one where they can see Houston architects R’Boney Nola and Clarence Lee, side by side with Chloe Dao and Joshua Allen. These designers cultivate a diverse representation that both impact Houston’s future place in the fashion industry. This is the new Houston. Both New York’s Garment District and Los Angeles Fashion District are designated to foster fashion communities, while Houston hasn’t designated an area for its creatives to voraciously thrive. The common problem designers face is the unknown contingency, which forces dreamers to move to New York (the historic mecca of any style) for a chance at becoming the next “it” label.

Dao, an established Asian designer, and Allen made their debut in New York City, making famous pit stops along the way. Allen’s Beaumont Collection and his abstract compositions made him a social media phenomenon. Dao became the winner of season two of the popular fashion series, Project track, throwing it into the spotlight. She then created a dress in honor of the crazy rich asians film debut at the Austin Asian American Film Festival and also opened a Rice Village store in its namesake.

“I’m just lucky to be doing what I do and I’ve always recognized that it was difficult. It is difficult to own everything, but it is also a great blessing, ”said Dao humbly. “There aren’t many little designers like me who have been in business for that long. “

Along with her sustainability label, R'bonney Nola also offers classes at Houston's non-profit design house  Magpies & Peacocks.  

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As Houston slowly opens up to opportunities, it opens doors for local designers like R’Boney Nola and Clarence Lee to create hard-wearing collections. Nola’s sustainability label – R’Bonney Nola Designs, originated in bustling downtown East Houston. Working in part as a sewing instructor at the non-profit design house of Houston Magpies & Peacocks and chief producer of her own brand ignites the excitement Nola feels whenever a sketch idea is born, while ensuring that the ultimate base is recycled fabric. . “Fashion is one of the most polluting industries in the world, and everyone plays a role in fashion. Whether you are a designer or a consumer, everyone buys pieces ”, informs Nola. “I think it’s my duty as a young designer today to educate people on the issue and help push the fashion industry in a more environmentally friendly direction. “

The same standard of originality can be said for the emerging designer Clarence Lee. Former student of the Arts Institute of Houston, currently Lee designs women’s ready-to-wear clothing for Inclan Studio. What makes up the outline of his illustrations is the art of observing how a stranger’s clothes convey a stronger message. “Seeing how people interpret fashion in their own way, I can certainly spot those that are about the trends and what’s going on now, and then see people who know what they like and don’t care what is happening. happening, ”Lee reveals. “When I design I keep in mind that people have real everyday life and fashion has to coincide with what they do.”

For years, Houston’s avant-garde neighborhoods like River Oaks and The Galleria were teeming with distinguished luxury lines, but in recent times there has been a “new” interest in the city. Louis Vuitton has opened a second store at The Galleria exclusively dedicated to menswear, while Gucci and FENDI are hosting pop-up events and exclusive previews of upcoming collections during the changing seasons. Perhaps the root of the change is from artists and content creators like Megan Thee Stallion, Travis Scott, Wisdom Kaye, and Teezo Touchdown, who are constantly adding a hometown flavor to every project released. Megan and Scott are linked with luxury labels like Dior, Jordan, Coach and Nike. With Scott opening a Rice Village flagship called Space Village, it’s not a crazy fashion idea to turn its attention south.

It does raise a few questions, however. Could this new activity create dream job opportunities for Houston designers? Or, are brands now seeing the abundant resources and lucrative residents of Texas as financial gain? Each answer will immensely shape how Houston views fashion and what will become of its fate. Lee imagines an emerging designer takeover and a closer coupling of consumer and brand. Dao believes that a boom in supporting local designers will take the city to new heights, while taking the carbon footprint into account. Nola imagines notable labels getting more involved with start-up brands, and for Allen, the future of fashion in Houston is already in front of us. “It’s just that we have to believe that we can actually make something from Houston a trending factor on the internet that gets us into corporate conversations,” Allen concludes.

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