Lachi and I had hours-long conversations on how we could do something together, to maximize what each of us was doing at helping the fashion industry getting more inclusive.
I am used to working with people I’ve never met in person, and who live in places I’ve never visited. Luckily enough, I went to NYC more than once, but long before I even heard about Lachi and her involvement in the fashion industry.
Beginning of September, we decided to team up, and think of something that could, in literally 10 days or so, help international adaptive and inclusive designers get some more visibility right when the whole world, had its eyes concentrated on the main global fashion weeks.
I am based in Milan, Lachi is based in NYC and the designers featured here, cover countries from the US to the UAE.
I decided to ask some of the designers and partners I know, to share their most recent and representative pieces, to proof that beauty and self-confidence are not a privilege and should not be perceived as such.
It’s been a race against time but we did it, and this interview comes out just a few hours after the closing of this 2020 NY Fashion Week, as a sign that beautiful and meaningful fashion, does not stop when the lights switch off.
Enjoy Lachi’s story and her interpretation of these amazing designer’s pieces.
WHO IS LACHI?
I am a recording artist, a writer, a producer and a disability inclusion advocate based out of New York City. I’ve had the pleasure, to work with some of the most celebrated artists and producers in music, and to see my creations on TV and on the radio.
I recognize how fortunate I am, to wake up every morning and make a living doing what I love. Being born legally blind, growing up different, it definitely propelled me to where I am.
YOU ARE AN ARTIST, A SINGER AND AN ADVOCATE. WHEN DID THIS ALL START?
Music always played a large role in my life. I started at a pretty early age, tinkering on a keyboard my mother had bought for a different sibling. I’d force my stuffed animals to sing the songs I wrote. My mom supported my musical pursuits, but as we were an immigrant family, my parents wanted me more on a desk-job path.
I can understand why they wouldn’t want, their blind kid, taking artsy risks. Also, it was hard for them (and even myself) to fathom success, in an entertainment industry: because when we turned on the TV or the radio, we didn’t see or hear, people that looked like me, or had anything remotely close to my experience.
But arranging and composing was just such an undeniable passion. I eventually got the desk-job after college, really to make them happy. But ditched it to pursue music. It wasn’t easy. I got a lot of the run around. “You’re too this, you’re not this enough”. Eventually I found my strides.
I chose to walk line of inclusion advocacy because I need more people for little girls, like I once was, to look up to and say “Hey, I can be that, when I grow up.”
HOW AND WHEN DID BLINDNESS TURN FROM BEING A WEAK POINT TO YOUR STRENGTH POINT?
I’d been afraid my blindness would only be useful as a shtick, due to the stigma surrounding disability.
I didn’t want the headlines to read: “Blind girl releases new track.”
I wanted it to read: “Lachi releases new track.” So I focused my energies on growing confident, in my career as an artist, and kept my talk about my blindness to a minimum; since I was able to hide it in certain situations.
But several things changed that thought process. One being that, while I was born with some vision, I am now losing it completely. Learning that, tends to put a fire under your butt to reach your greatest heights: a height I could never reach without being true to myself completely. If my goal is to be a public figure, well, that public figure includes all of me.
At one point, my late manager Gary Salzman (RIP), had asked me why I didn’t talk more about my disability. I told him, “These big namers in the industry will think I’m weird!” He laughed and said, “Listen, you inspire me. I’m an old Jewish guy and watching you do what you do, inspires me. You need to share that.”
YOU ARE AN AWARD-NOMINATED SINGER AND PLAYED WITH INCREDIBLE ARTSTS: CAN YOU TELL US MORE?
I am a vocalist and topliner in the realm of electronic dance and EDM/Pop realms. In that vane, I’ve had the pleasure to work with some really amazing people, and go to really amazing places.
I also love love love to arrange a cappella music, whether for myself or for other groups. I received an Independent Music Award nomination for Best A cappella song earlier this year, and just arranged a cover of “Genius” by LSD mixed with Beethoven’s 5th symphony (performed by Mezzo), that should be released any minute now.
WHICH OF YOUR SONGS, DO YOU FEEL, BEST REPRESENT YOU?
I’d have to say ‘Duality,’ which is releasing September 25.
As a black person who was “raised white”, going to all-white schools and living in all-white white neighborhoods, I always felt the tug of “who am I”, even among others of my race.
Being from an immigrant family but born in the U.S., I felt that tug around both immigrants and non immigrants.
Being legally blind but not fully blind, I felt that tug around those with or without my same disability.
And finally, being a girl that’s 100% tomboy, I felt that tug around boys, girls and everyone in between.
I know for sure, I’m not alone in that, on some level. ‘Duality’ walks through that concept of cognitive dissonance. The cognitive dissonance we have to constantly put ourselves through.
ONE OF THE MOST COMMON QUESTIONS IS: HOW DO BLIND PEOPLE GET DRESSED. HOW DO YOU CHOOSE COLORS AND HOW DO YOU GO SHOPPING?
I am partially blind. I have no vision in one eye and very low vision in the other. So I joke that I have “an eye for fashion.” If I’m not shopping with a stylist, I’m a deliberately slow shopper. I’m tactile because feel and comfort are high-priority even before look. I dressing-room everything, so I can spend the time I need, close-up with a mirror. I’ve also been known to get staff involved with yaying and naying.
But I wasn’t always into fashion. Frankly I didn’t understand it, not until I gain a true self-confidence and comfort in my skin.
Once you taste the high of confidence, you don’t want to let it go. And as a blind female trying to gain visibility in an industry oozing with confident people, I needed to make sure I was always on point, so if someone wasn’t feeling me, I was confident it wasn’t based on my presentation.
THESE PICTURES ARE PART OF A SPECIAL SHOOTING DURING NYFW, TO PROMOTE INCLUSIVE FASHION DESIGNERS: CAN YOU TELL US MORE?
Here in New York, we’ve just celebrated our National Day of Remembrance, honoring those who’ve fought and passed in America. So it’s an honor to be wearing a handcrafted Rank and Sugar high-fashion overskirt. Headed up by Suzanne Wade, Rank and Sugar repurposes military surplus clothing to incorporate messages of peace and inclusion. The brand is supported by the Spashionista herself, Alicia Searcy. The skirt is very versatile, you can wear it as a train, and the belt tie is very accessible and easy to wrap. I’m also wearing a beautiful Rank and Sugar necklace with a dog tag that says “Shine On.”
I am also enjoying the confort of an Adaptive By Asiya shawl with bronze handmade embroideries from her latest Asthma Stoles collection. This will be my perfect winter stole, to add some color to my New York fall. Asiya Rafiq is the first Indian modest and adaptive fashion designer and I’m all here for it.
And I am loving this beautiful necklace by Elegant Insights, that says ‘Believe’ in Braille. This necklace is all me!
From it’s bold stark design to it’s message, I instantly saw the necklace and thought “Me!”
It’s one of the many awesome inclusive-forward items, available at Patty and Ricky’s.
PattiandRicky.com is a marketplace for adaptive clothing, breaking the visibility of adaptive brands to a new level.
WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO THE FASHION AND BEAUTY INDUSTRY?
Be inclusive. It turns out skinny and pale, or muscular and bronzed is an itty bitty part of the population: in fact they are literally just the people you’re hiring!
So who are you even marketing too?
If you’re marketing to me, to us, to the rest of the world, let Jane, see herself in your clothing, when she sees your add; let John, see himself, in your clothing when he scrolls through your Instagram. If you want us to buy your clothing, market to us. Include us.
I’ve got a bunch of great releases coming up, including “Duality,” with Psyrus, Conves and Jeff Franzel; my a cappella arrangement of “Genius” with Mezzo; and more through out October and November. I will also be doubling down on my advocacy, partnering up with more people, places and things to bring inclusion to the forefront, to make disability mentioned as a diversity along side all the other diversities.