Detroit continues to earn its mark as the fashion hub the country — and the world — pays attention to. Now, another industry leader and Michigan native is creating space for black designers — and bringing notable and emerging Detroit creatives along for the ride.
Maison Black is a new luxury fashion online store accessible by black designers. According to a press release, Maison Black aims to help designers increase brand awareness and customer base while providing consumers with a source of black talent and design. The marketplace was founded by Tori Nichel, a Michigan-born, New York-based designer who has worked for brands like Kenneth Cole and Tibi and is now design director for Kohl’s.
In anticipation of Maison Black launching online later this fall, the company will present Manhattan at Motown, an invitation-only presentation on October 20 in Detroit. It will feature the work of six Motor City fashion designers who have made waves in New York: Kevan Hall, Isaiah Hemmingway, Aaron Potts of A.Potts, Nicole King of N’Gai, Shawna McGee of S. McGee Collection. , and Sharryl Cross of Truth.
Before the show, we spoke with Cross, who launched her contemporary women’s apparel and accessories brand earlier this year after returning to Michigan in 2020, to learn more about her work. She will present Truth’s Fall 2021 collection and a preview of the Spring/Summer 2022 collection at the Manhattan to Motown show.
Hour Detroit: Can you tell us about your stay in New York?
Sharryl Cross: In 2008 I moved to New York and started as an assistant at Macy’s. I basically made a plan to be a senior designer within five years – which is actually what happened. I worked very hard and kept getting promoted every year and ended up becoming the clothing designer for [Macy’s private label] INC. I have been promoted several times within this brand. I got to design for different categories like jeans designer, bottoms designers, skirts, and then I ended up becoming a dress designer. Meanwhile, it was really cool because I saw my dresses in Macy’s home store in Herald Square. Also, I took a look in In the style magazines and vogue. Working for that first company – I was there for about seven and a half years – kind of set the tone for my career. And then after that, I continued to work for companies like Kohl’s, Elizabeth & James of the Olsen Twins, Juicy Couture, J.Crew, and it was pretty exciting.
How does your fashion background influence the way you design for Truth?
I was a mainstream designer [in New York]. There are all kinds of designers, but most of the time when you say “fashion design” people automatically think of luxury brands, like “Oh, did you work for Donna Karan or Gucci?” In fact, I chose not to go that route. I chose to become a mass designer – i.e. stores like Kohl’s, J.Crew and Macy’s – and the benefit of that is that you learn what the masses want, and you somehow learn kind of take your concepts and those crazy ideas but make it portable. So that has a lot of influence on how I design. I don’t just want to come up with a crazy design that is very expensive and that no one will wear. I want my client to love it and want to wear it again and again. But it’s still not something you get from a Zara or H&M – it’s a contemporary price for a contemporary shopper. When she looks at the garment, she understands what she is getting in quality, in the fabric and in the look of the garment.
What influences the bright colors and patterns you work with?
Everyday life, honestly. I could literally be influenced by everything I see; it could be a carpet, it could be an interior, it could be a car, it could be a work of art. Personally, I love, love, love the color. Thinking back to my time in the industry, the compliments I got, they always said, “Wow, you have a really good eye for color and pattern.” I really don’t know where that part came from, but I’m so drawn to things in nature, even something like a butterfly. I just see the world in bright, bright colors and that’s how I tend to design my prints and color palettes.
What can you tell us about your fall 2021 and spring/summer 2022 collections that you are presenting for Manhattan to Motown?
In the fall collection, I will have about eight different styles. In the spring, I’m looking to do, eight to 10 pieces. So I was able to grow it a bit more. In the interest of sustainability, I do my best to use natural fabrics. So my line is based on using a lot of cotton – cotton poplins and cotton voiles or nice lightweight cottons – and the challenge is to give it a nice drape while still communicating a very feminine flow. This time I will have recycled poly options, then for the summer I will have a silk blend, which is also natural. But if I use synthetics, it will be like a recycled synthetic, so less harmful to the environment. When it comes to fall prints, I’m a huge fan of animals; I think it’s very nervous. So you will see leopard prints and very feminine silhouettes, but it will create a very edgy look. And then also what people will see is that I took one of my paintings and made a print of it. So I am using one of these paintings as a print and it will be used in the maxi dress. I think it’s going to be a big success, I hope.
What’s it like to be part of the launch of Maison Black?
It’s a historic moment because it’s an online marketplace for black designers. Instead of waiting for the guard to open the door for us – we’re fed up – we took the opportunity to create our own door. … We’re all from Michigan and we’re all at this launch. So we think it’s going to be really successful and really great.
All collections shown at the show will all be available for purchase at Shinola’s Manhattan to Motown public pop-up store at 441 Canfield St.. The pop-up will be open from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. on October 21 and from noon to 6 p.m. on October 22 and 23. In addition to Maison Black’s pop-up at Shinola, Cross’ fall collection will be available on her brand’s website. , truthbeboldbetruebeyou.comstarting October 21.
For more information on Maison Black, visit maisonblack.shop.