The consumers who purchase luxury fashion are more diverse than ever, but why doesn’t the fashion industry, from models to designers, reflect this? The high-end fashion industry has a history of mahogany and brown creative minds being overlooked and it’s time for a change.
Luckily, there is a fashion design collective in Chicago that gives no fucks about any box the fashion industry will paint. We caught up with Angela Brantley & Rhea Fernandez of HERO/BLACK. Easily the coolest brand you have seen in a while, who has the potential to turn the industry upside down.
Tell us a little bit about yourself? How did you two meet?
Angela: We met at a time when we were both ready for a change. I was ready to be a different person, to expect more from myself than I ever had before, to be creative, to create something that I believed in. Rhea and I showed up to an event wearing the same outfit and started talking and instantly felt a connection. I'd never met anyone who reminded me so much of myself and yet challenged me at the very same time.
Rhea: We decided to hang out one day and have a drink and quickly realized we were into the same things. We started collaborating and bouncing ideas off of each other and we haven't stopped since.
Tell me about your earliest memory of when you wanted to break into the fashion industry?
Rhea: I’ve always loved fashion and knew that I wanted to work in the industry. I grew up shopping with my mom. She used to say that as a baby, before I could read, I could identify all of the department stores by their logos.
Angela: I would play dress up every single day as a kid. My stepmom was a designer and I grew up watching her sew and devour magazines. Fashion was always our special bond and as I got older, I would dream of having my own line but it never seemed realistic, until one day I realized I was more scared to not take the chance than of failing if I did.
What is the backstory behind the name HERO/BLACK?
Angela: Hero is my daughter’s name…
Rhea: And black is our favorite color.
There is definitely an aesthetic with HERO/BLACK, but what message are you trying
to share with the world?
Rhea: We are so inspired by the strength of women. Our line is very influenced by strong, powerful, confident women who make no apologies for who they are. Architectural cuts and traditionally masculine silhouettes are the basis for our collections. We love menswear and playing with gender and what it means to be a woman.
Angela: We want women to feel powerful in our clothes, and also feminine in the most unexpected ways. We create statement pieces for the creative, unapologetic, free spirited woman who's comfortable in her own skin AND in her own voice.
"WE WANT WOMEN
TO FEEL POWERFUL
IN OUR CLOTHES"
With the lack of diversity in the fashion industry. Where do you see Hero/Black in the future?
Do you feel like you need to fight against the powers that be?
Angela: We fight against the powers that be everyday. Just by existing in a space that doesn't always embrace us. We are powerful women of color. We are unapologetic in our aesthetic and don't always play by the rules. And yet we're still here. In the future, I just want us to continue to create interesting things and watch the growth happen. We want to inspire others to do the same, all while dressing the women that inspire us to
Rhea: There is a huge lack of diversity in the fashion industry and we hope to help fill some of that void. We see ourselves growing and expanding. I think people are drawn to us because we’re real in a world full of bullshit, so in the future you can count on us to be over here keeping it real.