Gushers’ Black Voices Create turns the lens on emerging fashion brands SAIbysai, Expired Citizens and RENÉE and their splashy approach to deconstructed design.
Behind Gushers’ Black Voices Create Fashion Capsule
Meet the Bold Gen Z Designers
Ushering in an inclusive environment for the next generation of changemakers, Gushers‘ Black Voices Create spotlights rising Gen Z creators who are challenging conventions, breaking norms and sharing new stories through their art. Black creators are an integral part of the fashion and streetwear community, but often the work of these creators is overlooked and overshadowed by talent with access to mainstream resources and visibility. Contrary to popular belief, one size doesn’t fit all. In today’s climate, it’s paramount to celebrate diversity in creative spaces and uplift creators that dare to break the mold. Since 2020, Gushers’ Black Voices Create platform has amplified the work of young Black creators while celebrating inclusive access to the arts. The program aims to platform Black creators in social, digital, fashion and the arts by providing access, exposure and financial compensation, closing the value gap for emerging contributors in the space.
This year, Gushers teamed up with three rising designers, Sainabou Lowe, Dale Horton and Camryn McClain, the respective creators behind fashion brands SAIbysai, Expired Citizens and RENÉE, to spotlight each designer’s brand story and their unique approach to deconstructed and DIY fashion. The designers created two apparel pieces each, reflecting their brand identity in full effect. Their apparel pieces are presented in a custom lookbook, brought together in collaboration with fashion model Victor Kunda, photographer Nayquan Shuler and fashion stylist Justin Boone. The creators sat down with Hypebeast to share what inspires them to create and the merit of embracing their voices.
Sitting down with Sainabou Lowe, the creator behind SAIbysai, it’s clear that part of this expansion includes exploring the intersection of fashion and fine art, reconstructing garments as canvases to paint upon. Known on Instagram as Saina Gold, the Brooklyn-based artist moved from Maryland to study design at Pace University. Lowe is known for her “SAI” face, an original abstract work that adorns her brand’s various leather moto jackets, denim jeans, plaid mini skirts, blazers, cotton button-downs and vests. Accessories like bucket hats, ties and mini handbags establish Lowe’s punk-to-princess aesthetic, which looks to abstract expressionism and hand-painted designs to imbue each garment with a feeling of wonderment. What does the mischievous “SAI” face mean, you may ask? It’s a vibe — the artist’s manifesto and self-reminder to smile and laugh daily. “I love facial expressions,” says Lowe. “I love everyone’s different unique facial features and I want to celebrate that.”
saibysai / look 01
saibysai / look 02
SAIbysai embodies Gen Z’s fixation with DIY design and the resurgence of at-home tailoring and upcycling. The brand stands out for its experimental deconstruction of mainstream fashion. Pieces like the SAIbysai Eye Skirt, for instance, transform a signature summer silhouette — a maxi denim skirt — by adding an exaggerated front hem slit and mystical eye motifs embellishing the front panel. For Gushers, the designer remixes another gem from her collection, a pair of relaxed parachute pants with oversize cargo pockets at the front in a fern green colorway. The style showcases baby pink “SAI” motifs painted down the front panels. Lowe then incorporates this pink-and-green palette on her second piece, a knitted pullover with ‘70s-style bell sleeves and multicolored fringe draping at the fitted hem. A psychedelic “SAI” overlay dominates the front panel with a distorted pattern outlining its face.
Lowe recounts the early days of painting in her dorm room. Seeing her pieces on celebrities and on TV is surreal and a humbling reminder of the power of representation and the value in authentic self-expression. “It’s so important to see myself out there because when I was growing up, I didn’t see a lot of people that look like me in artistic spaces and creative spaces, and there’s so many of us, there’s so many creative people,” adds Lowe.
designer — Sainabou Lowe / model — victor kunda
“It’s so important to see myself out there ”
Expired Citizens is another brand gaining popularity for its unconventional use of patchwork and collage-style paneling. Dale Horton is at the brand’s helm, delivering cut-and-sewn garments upcycled from deadstock textiles, tablecloths and recycled materials. His grandmother originally taught him how to sew, and he later developed his own patchwork technique as a byproduct of thrifting. Pattern-clashing garments outfitted with patchwork panels are the brand’s specialty, with one-off halter mini dresses, deconstructed button-downs and asymmetrical skirts with tiered draping rounding out the brand’s live collection. These one-of-kind pieces are expressive by nature — a declaration of anti-establishment and a disruptive, rave-ready middle finger to fast fashion — and indicative of Horton’s commitment to sustainability. “It’s like wearable art,” says Horton. “I’m bringing patchwork into the mainstream — it’s not really something you see on the daily. It’s a different play on what clothes can actually be.”
In this same spirit, the designer presents upcycled denim jeans and a camo messenger bag for the Black Voices Create fashion capsule. The jeans are cut and sewn with contrasting denim graphic overlays, creating a vein-like cutout pattern on the front and back panels. Horton pairs this garment with a utilitarian messenger bag fashioned from deadstock camouflage fabric featuring oversize patch pockets on the exterior.
expired citizens / look 01
expired citizens / look 02
designer — Dale Horton / model — victor kunda
“It’s like wearable art,”
“I’m bringing patchwork into the mainstream”
Camryn McClain moved from Silver Spring, Maryland, to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology, earning a BFA in Fashion Design and a minor in Art History. From there, McClain began making ready-to-wear garments for contemporary clothing labels, eventually launching her own brand, RENÉE. The moniker is a French form of the late Roman name “Retanus,” which translates to “reborn” or “born again.” The pulse of this sentiment runs through McClain’s collection, particularly her work inspired by Black hair and the reclamation of natural, afro-textured hairstyles. “My inspiration is mostly myself,” says McClain. “I’m really inspired by black beauty, hair, color and form. My family business is actually [an inspiration]. My mother [and grandfather] run a cosmetology school and my [great uncle] started a brand called DUDLEY BEAUTY in 1967. It’s a black hair brand that [was big] in the nineties. I’ve just been around it my whole life, and I drew inspiration from it, and learned how to do my own hair and braiding. I love color and I use that as my everyday inspiration,” she details.
You see McClain actively unpacking this thesis in her featured apparel: a convertible, monochromatic denim vest with vibrant orange piping at the hem and a denim jacket featuring the artist’s signature braid motif woven atop the garment. The vest, for example, channels this theme of transformation, as the garment converts into a portable messenger bag — straps and all. Its zipper hardware is revamped with orange and blue hair baubles — yet another ingredient showcasing McClain’s intimate connection to hair. Appealing to a younger set, it’s an innovative, playful and versatile concept for an on-the-run fashion moment at Coachella. “Both my pieces are very sustainable and almost a hundred percent recyclable. My designs amplify my inner child, I would like to say. My brand represents myself, and to be able to put braids on clothing and wear it around makes people look at me. It makes people look at who I am and recognize that my skin and my hair is a part of me, and they need to see it.” expresses McClain.
RENÉE / look 01
RENÉE / look 02
designer — Camryn McClain / model — victor kunda
“My brand represents myself.”
Gushers introduces the work of these artists, celebrating the creativity through which they express their voices and stories, encouraging other aspiring creators to break the norm in a similar stride. To heighten awareness for issues pertinent to Black youth, Gushers partners with the NAACP Youth & College Division. The brand’s financial commitment to the NAACP helps fund campaigns that promote education, equality and safety, and programs that increase leadership development and recruitment.
Get to know each artist in the videos above, and check out threads featured in the lookbook above at SAIbysai’s website, Expired Citizen’s website and RENÉE’s website. Learn more about Gushers’ Black Voices Create by visiting the brand’s website.
SAIbysai / Expired Citizens / RENÉE
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Gen-Z isn’t the type of generation to latch onto hyper-specific trends, or rather, they are known for their natural affinity for subverting bygone eras through thrifting and secondhand shopping. And the verdict is in. The future is patchworked and deconstructed. It’s colorful and textured; it’s unfinished and imperfect — a buffering experiment per se — and jam-packed with individualism, one design accent at a time. Fashion critics refer to it as anti-fashion. Simply put, it’s the coterie of creators and consumers who aspire to dismantle and rework the style vanguard by embracing a mosaic of personas they regularly rotate through.