I’m a huge believer that “lateral cooperation creates vertical movement”, and so for Black History Month and Fashion Week, I’m excited to unfold and amplify black and brown stories through the Walker Wear RAW fashion series collaboration. It’s aimed to challenge us to think about how we can become more sustainable as a people and planet through the awareness of intersectionality.
This collaboration consists of raw, talented African American fashion stylists and costume wardrobe designers that manage to rise and thrive in spite of a fashion industry filled with hierarchy, elitism, and systemic oppression. The talents included in this series are Kwasi Kwessi, Toni Scott Grant, DOMO, Marci Rodgers, Keia Bounds, Jai Hudson, C.L.White, and Jannique Heard. They have deep roots stemming from different hometowns like P.G. County, Brooklyn, Houston, Harlem, Jersey and Chicago, making their creative palettes large and diverse. Also, their credits include Madonna, J-Lo, ASAP Ferg, Conway The Machine, D-Smoke, Spike Lee, and via films such as BlackkKlansman, Wu-Tang’s “An American Saga”, etc.
In this campaign, they’re wearing our RAW denim.
Raw denim means that it’s dry, unwashed and hasn’t undergone any of the usual washing and distressing processes. A washed and pre distressed jean requires around eleven gallons of water to achieve that worn look, and that’s not counting the chemicals or extra manpower needed. The choice for Walker Wear to use RAW denim is because aesthetically, we’re inspired by workwear, but most importantly, the idea is to reduce the overall environmental and human rights impact in this fashion industry.”
Makers and creators continue to inspire, shape fashion and shift the culture forward. As the founder of Walker Wear, and as one of the first trailblazers in streetwear, I was elated to sit down and interview these unique, talented and super dope creators and with so many great stories. First up…
MEET KEIA BOUNDS
When did you become interested in fashion?I have been interested in fashion since I was 8 years old. My mom and grandmother showed me how to sew and make clothes for my dolls. I was also obsessed with reworking vintage from 12 years old.
2. Why did you decide to be a stylist? My mom was a model and I modeled a bit when I was younger. I played in my mother’s clothing and always tried to style myself and others like the magazines. I really understood the transformative power of clothing at a young age. What year was that? I started styling in 2001 when I left Ralph Lauren.
3. How did you get your foot in the door? I was designing for Ralph Lauren and feeling like I wanted to do some styling. I needed get some experience and so a friend asked to help her do a shoot for Marie Claire. I then started to transition into Television and Film starting with Chappelle’s Show. After that I did several years at What Not to Wear and moved around as a freelance stylist and Costume Designer. What was your process? I would get the subject, shoot details or script, do research , create inspiration boards and shop or design into the subject.
4. What are some of the qualities needed to become a stylist? I believe some of the top qualities of being a stylist is being forward thinker and a problem solver.
5. Have you encountered any obstacles? Yes. As it pertains to clothing, having a certain vision and not being able to execute it.
6. Do you feel you’ve ever encountered oppression or racism within the fashion industry? I have been blessed to move around in the fashion industry. I have worked for several companies at senior levels. My goals were to reach Vice President and President status and promotion was not happening as rapidly for me as it had been for others.
7. Is gender and race an issue for the fashion industry from your encounters? If so, how. Please explain or share a story. Yes, it has been. I was told I couldn’t be promoted without a certain level of education.
8. Have you ever had any showroom difficulties, creating relationships or pulling samples because of the color of your skin? No, I have had great relationships with showrooms.
9. If you could style anyone in the world of your choice, who would it be? Tracee Ellis Ross Why? She is just a dope muse.
10. What advice would you give a young black or brown person wanting to become a fashion stylist? Don’t let anyone tell you something is not obtainable. I would encourage them to work for a lot of different people before they go out on their own. And definitely have a mentor.
11. What’s your personal style? My personal style is eclectic. I am a very moody dresser. My style can run between classic, to tomboy to bohemian.
Keia Bounds is an accomplished film and TV costume designer. She worked as a fashion designer before entering the entertainment industry and credits her design education and fashion design experience for her success in her costume design.
While working as a designer for Ralph Lauren, Keia began styling celebrities. Eventually leaving Ralph Lauren to pursue a costume design and styling career, she first landed Chappelle’s Show, and soon after, What Not to Wear, Law & Order, etc. Next, she began to design episodic shows. Her credits as a costume designer range from “NURSE JACKIE”, to “CONNECTING” on NBC and most recently released film “CHICK FIGHT”. Currently, Keia is working on the television series “BLACK MAFIA FAMILY”.
While working as a Costume Designer, Keia owns and curates an online sustainable home and design store. In between projects she mentors young designers and has worked as an adjunct Professor at FIT for the course Costume Design Theory and Practice.
It’s my hope that we all to become more intentional, kinder, and environmentally conscious when it comes to our people and planet. We are independent, yet interdependent, and we all need each other to make the world go around.
The RAW social media campaign @walkerwear will run from February through March of 2020 and there will be a Clubhouse conversation as well. Follow me @iamaprilwalker for the deets.