When I was little, I made clothes out of anything I could find. I played with newspaper, curtains, sheets and old clothes until they became something totally new. The New York Times was my go-to for hats. My grandmother’s skirts became gowns for my siblings and me. Now, 15 years later, I do this under my label: Official Rebrand.
In my teens I worked on farms and became obsessed with environmental justice. Then, I fell in love with painting. Studying in Berlin, however, I worked for the amazing fashion designer, performance artist, and drag queen Fábio M. Silva. This experience made me realize how important—and fun—style can be as a tool for self-expression and self-love. I got really excited about fashion again and started painting and drawing on my own clothes, giving them new life and character.
Wearing these remade garments makes me feel great. These pieces draw attention to parts of my identity I feel connected to. One of the first garments I ever “rebranded” was a bag on which I painted imagery of couples. Through this accessory, I expressed my love for both painting and romance. I prefer to show those aspects of myself—my interests and passions—far more than I like to show the traits I did not choose, such as my gender.
Though many people feel comfortable following gender norms, expectations for how a girl or how a boy should behave are suffocating for others. Boys and girls are expected to act in a certain way, like and dislike certain things, and dress according to traditional “masculine” or ‘feminine” clothing styles. These expectations limit our ability to find out what we like on our own. I don’t really feel like a girl or a boy. I just feel like me. Personal style is a great way to feel the most me I can be.
The clothing industry is extremely polluting. Fast fashion promotes constant, excessive consumption, requiring avid style-chasers to constantly buy new clothes to be up-to-date on every trend. It doesn’t promote finding your own unique style. By taking formerly-gendered garments and rebirthing them as gender-free pieces, Official Rebrand is my response to the wastefulness and restrictiveness of the fashion industry.
Once I started “rebranding” clothes for myself, my friends and Instagram followers immediately began asking me to paint clothes for them. So I did. Since then, I’ve shown my clothes in galleries and DRØME’s New York Fashion Week show. I make custom pieces and offer free “rebranding” workshops to help others create clothes that express their own individuality. My horror fashion film, EAT, was released on Halloween.
Official Rebrand will be featured in a variety of activations at Art Basel Miami this week, including a fashion presentation on ice at the Edition Hotel, a panel discussion by NADA x DRØME on “Breaking Boundaries” in art, and a pop-up shop with Brujas and Thank You Kindly (Friday December 8th and Saturday December - 48 East Flagler Street). My work will also be featured in the DRØME booth at the NADA Fair.
To show off what I've been working on lately through Official Rebrand, I collaborated with photographer Jasper Soloff on these photos, which provide a preview of some of our looks on display in Miami this week.