Black Fashion Designer Rosette Porch Makes Her Mark In Fashion
BYP's mission is simple: to amplify Black talent by expanding access and connection. Our work is rooted in supporting Black professionals from diverse backgrounds to achieve their career goals. During our virtual BYP Creative Future Summit on June 25, we are leading a candid conversation about the influence of Black ingenuity throughout media and creative industries. From fashion to art, Black originality has become a financial resource in the world. Despite this truth, oftentimes, many of these Black contributors do not receive the proper opportunities and financial compensation they deserve.
The fashion industry has notoriously left Black innovators out of the conversation. With the rise of social media, however, Black celebrities have bulldozed their way into the fashion stratosphere. A famous example is American rapper, singer, record producer, businessman, politician, and fashion designer Kanye West. While he partnered with leading brands, such as French luxury fashion and perfume house Givenchy and Nike to launch his shoe and clothing line, he experienced racial biases that affected many Black artists and designers.
During a viral and emotional discussion on “Sway In The Morning” podcast in 2013. Recent reports shared his unique experiences as an aspiring Black designer in the industry. His sentiments are echoed in a State of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion In Fashion report by the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).
According to the report, 68 percent of Black employees reported greater inaccessibility to the fashion industry than 37 percent of white employees.
Some of the overarching themes leading to these statistics reported by Black employees lack access to connections and mentorship, racial biases, and cultural appropriation, particularly in low-income Black communities.
In honor of our upcoming event, we are giving Black creatives their flowers while they can still smell them. BYP sat down with Black fashion designer Rosette Porch to discuss her experiences navigating these spaces, her work and inspiration.
Nia Grain clothing is the brainchild of Porch. Her women's clothing brand combines femininity and street style with a dash of chic. As a child, her dolls were her first models, where she spent hours transforming their clothes into unique pieces.
"As a young girl, I've always been obsessively intrigued with all things fashion, style, and the art of design. My baby dolls were my first client. I was so happy to mix and match their clothing and alter the designs to how I saw fit. As I grew up, the more my interest grew, and I knew this was something I had to do."
When she noticed a lack of Black voices in the fashion industry, she decided to create her lane.
"Black designers have been shorthanded far too long in the industry from television to the runway. We have played a very influential and monetizing part in an industry that doesn't love or acknowledge us. It is important to see black designers from all walks of life, which is why I created my fashion show and educational weekend, "The Art of Wardrobe." In my work, I showcase local fashion creative work with 98 percent of the fashion used for production being Black."
Like many Black designers and aspiring fashion creatives, the Ohio-native’s lack of industry connections and access limited her opportunities. From the start, she describes her experience in the fashion world as an "uphill and downhill journey," full of twists and turns. With no role models within her social circle, she would hone her skills by teaching herself how to sew and following her intuition at a young age.
"I am self-taught, so everything up until this point has come from reading books and watching videos and taking a handful of sewing classes here and there. Initially, I started by redesigning T-shirts into dresses, and once I mastered that, I began to create items from scratch."
Equipped with little more than grit and a vision to create a space of style she could call her own, specifically for women of color, the fashionista decided to take the road less traveled and go after her dreams by building relationships.
"Networking helped me connect with models, makeup artists, and other industry professionals. I would attend events and interact with people on social media. It's the fastest way to grow your net worth and meet goals. It's like we all have the same end goal but bring something different to the table."
Her unwavering determination would grant her notoriety locally and nationally, leading to showcasing at New York Fashion Week in 2014.
"I have showcased in multiple fashion weeks, but September 2014 was special in a way because it was New York. The experience was so exciting and emotional because I was pregnant, designing, selecting my models from different states, and doing last-minute fittings."
Porch’s enthusiasm and fearlessness is what dreams are made out of. We invite you become a member and sign up for our newsletter and join us during Our Creative Future Summit on June 25 as we continue the conversation of creating new approaches to make creative industries more inclusive, representative, and respectful as ever.