State of the Arts: On Fashion, Politics and Branding with Aceani Michelle, Designer
CREATIVE LIBERATION: How would you define the Aceani Michelle brand?
ACEANI MICHELLE: Aceani Michelle Brands, LLC is a representation of who I am as a person, and the women I wish to see in my clothes. This woman is confident, smart and bold like my clothing. I’ve been designing new pieces and they’re all pretty simple and minimal silhouettes that are functional yet interesting. I’ve always said that my target customer is edgy and risky with an appreciation for fine arts, culture, and history. Anything that is under Aceani Michelle has to tell a story. Almost as if you are reading a book attached to someone’s body.
CL: Your brand has been digitalized very cohesively across online platforms. Do you pay special attention to content curation, and do you think this is important for the expansion of your brand?
AM: I actually spend a lot of time watching youtube videos and reading articles about social media promotion, and cohesion is one of the main points everyone stresses because it becomes how your brand is seen. It’s very important because it’s like a uniform people begin to identify with your name and it helps with solidifying your brand identity. At first it was like trying to solve a very complicated problem. I had to figure out what I liked versus what I didn't like as well as what seems to attract followers and likes, but now it’s really simple. I’ve gotten so consistent with the kind of content I post that I don’t even have to think about it. When I’m editing I know exactly how I want it to look and there’s no more going back and forth to see if it fits or matches the theme. I just know when it’s right and when it’s wrong.
CL: For those who think fashion is trivial or materialistic--why should fashion matter to everyone?
AM: When most people think of “fashion” they instantly think of articles of clothing with high price tags. Very few realize that fashion is everything from a pair of socks, to the style of your hair. The definition of fashion is a popular trend, especially in styles of dress and ornament or manners of behavior. In my opinion fashion is a comprehensive term used to describe each and every one of us. Fashion is identity so that is why it should matter to everyone. It’s who we are.
CL: I know you have a passion for both fashion and politics, how do you combine the two?
AM: Both fashion and politics are second nature to me. I grew up in a very politically involved family so I learned the rules to being “politically correct” very early. My mom is my manager so she has an eye on almost everything I do which sometimes make it hard to combine politics and Aceani Michelle. She is very careful about openly showing bias because she doesn’t want to discourage customers from supporting, and I just don’t care most of the time. Of course I try not to offend anyone because at the end of the day I am selling a product and if people don’t like you they are less likely to make purchases. However, I feel it is extremely important for people with a following and platform to speak out and state facts on what they feel passionate about so that is what I do.
CL: When did you start designing?
AM: I took my first stab at designing in fourth grade where I drew clothes for my favorite brands at the time like Baby Phat and Apple Bottom. Middle school was the first time I actually started to work with clothing by customizing jeans and shorts for myself and friends or completely repurposing and redesigning an article of clothing. In high school I started to draw and create my own designs once I finally taught myself how to operate a sewing machine. I then produced my very first small collection my junior year.
CL: Where do you get inspiration for your designs?
AM: For me, inspiration comes from a little bit of everywhere. When I am looking for a source of inspiration I typically look to unique architecture, but honestly inspiration could come from something as simple as a pencil. I am constantly paying close attention to my surroundings and over thinking because I am constantly looking for a reference. And sometimes it’s less about finding inspiration to design from and more about meeting someone to design for so I take time to interact with and learn everyone I cross paths with. I also combine the two.
CL: When do you know something you’ve designed is “good?”
I know something is good when I can't explain exactly what is is or where it came from. At the end of the day I’m and artist and it is my job to provoke conversation so when the inspiration is unclear I know people will be interested and want to know more.
CL: In modern times where many are self-proclaimed “designers,” how do you aim to separate yourself from the crowd?
Authenticity. Too many “designers” are more interested in following the trend and seeing who can create the most which plays a part in what we call fast fashion. I want to create pieces that become apart of women’s capsule collections and hold the same value decades from now like the Chanel jacket. For me it’s about quality over quantity and staying true to my brand identity. That is why I have such a specific description for who I am designing for. It keeps me on a narrow path so I’m not just creating anything for anyone just to earn a quick dime.
Photos courtesy of Jermaine Jackson of Pejamane Photography.