DETROIT (WXYZ) — The talent, creativity and passion for fashion design is taking five teenagers from Detroit on their first of what will certainly be many trips to New York.
It's part of a collaboration between the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan and Maison Black, an online retailer that exclusively features fashion from Black designers.
Through Maison Black's founder Tori Nichel, the teens, all Black young men who are in the BGCSM's Fashion Industry Club, have been paired with New York-based designers to guide them in developing a full look that will be presented next month at the Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessey Tower during New York Fashion Week.
The young rising stars being featured are Carlos Pearson, Arma'n, Trent Garcon, Shawn Woodward and Langston Howard.
Teenage girls are also a part of the Fashion Industry Club but for this particular mentorship program, Nichel explained why the focus is on young Black male designers.
"We want to create these safe spaces for our young Black men to thrive, unapologetically, and then disrupt the market with their ingenuity and creativity," said Nichel, adding that the young men's talent and drive have truly blown her away.
With the help of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan, the young men are raising money for their upcoming trip to New York to help with everything from transportation and lodging to their presentation and opportunities to explore a city that is at the heart of the fashion industry.
If you'd like to make a contribution, you can do so through a GoFundMe page set up for them.
Veteran fashion designer Omar Jermaine is one of the mentors involved in the project.
"I see a lot of great creativity," Jermaine said. "One of the things that stood out to myself and some of the other mentors was the ability of these youth to have their finger right on the pulse of what is actually happening and trending in fashion."
Shawn H. Wilson, president and CEO of BGCSM, said, “Not only can these men pass along their technical knowledge of the fashion industry, but also give youth the tools to navigate race-based barriers which come along with being an entrepreneur of color.”
Because of the tight security on designs presented during New York Fashion Week, the looks that the young designers have created cannot be shown publicly until after they are formally revealed during Fashion Week.
We asked the kids to provide us more information in their own words. You can read what they wrote below:
NYFW Youth Bios
Carlos Pearson: Carlos is an up and coming 17 year-old Detroit based designer. He is currently a Junior at Cass Technical High School. Carlos was always a creative youth, and in early 2022 he took a leap of faith and joined the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s Fashion Industry Club where he was introduced to fashion design. From there he has continued to hone his craft, having his designs included in fashion shows, galleries, and even Sean Anderson Foundations DON Weekend. When Carlos isn’t designing clothes, you can find him on the basketball court.
Trent Garson: Trent’s motto is: I am not my art, my art is me. As a 19 years old artist and designer, his work focuses on creating unique art pieces inspired by the city of Detroit. Trent’s goal is for people to see the beauty in the culture and the community of his hometown.
Trent’s interest in art is what guided him to join the Boys & Girls Clubs of Southeastern Michigan’s Fashion Industry Club where he learned to how to transform his art into fashion. Trent started off as an intern in the program and was quickly promoted to a mentor. His experience in the program gave him the skills and confidence to start his own brand, Display-er. Trent has gone on to hold pop-ups throughout Detroit selling both his art and clothing. His work can also be purchased at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American history. Trent explores the depths of his creativity by pushing boundaries and challenging the status quo. Most recently Trent participated in the Apple App Accelerator program where he combined his passion for art and design and developed an app called xpoArt, a platform for artists to market themselves and their work.
Robert Robinson (Silaha): Robert Robinson aka Silaha/Armán is a 17 y/o fashion designer from Detroit,MI. He attends University Prep Art & Design and is the founder of the haute couture fashion brand ARMÁN. Silaha started making designs concepts for ARMÁN in 2020, but in 2022 he started to bring them to life after joining the Fashion Industry Club program at the Boys & Girls Club. In 2022 Silaha premiered 3 ARMÁN collections in collaborative fashion shows throughout Detroit (24kt show, BGCSM show, Night of the Arts). In April ARMÁN will host its debut fashion show called NO.18 for highlighting their fall/winter collection ‘23.
Shawn Woodward: Shawn Woodward is an 18 year old artist and designer that attends Westfield Preparatory High School. After participating in the Fashion Industry Club at the boys & Girls Club, Shawn started his own art and design brand, Skullxer. He has a passion for art and plans to venture out and learn more in the fashion industry and build a name for himself and his brand.
Langston Howard: Langston Howard is a scholar, athlete and entrepreneur who created The Top, a clothing brand designed to motivate and inspire while delivering a distinct and creative approach to athletic, urban fashion.
Launched in March 2022, The Top is the brainchild of the 13-year-old, 8th grader who gained his passion for entrepreneurship at a young age. Following in the footsteps of his dad, grandfather, aunt, and great grandmothers who serve as his examples of successful business owners, Langston launched his first entrepreneurial endeavor at five by selling his artwork to friends and family. He has since grown into a teenage powerhouse with a relentless passion for delivering excellence in all areas of his life.
Most recently, Langston was selected for the Summer cohort of the Boys and Girls Club of SE Michigan, Fashion Industry Club. During the program, his cohort collaborated with Ruthie Davis and Deviate Fashion to create the “One People” high top