Chicago de­signer cel­e­brates uni­sex, gen­der­less clothes

Orlando Sentinel - - EXTRA FASHION & SHOPPING - By Tara C. Ma­hade­van

Billed as cloth­ing de­signed with pas­sion, Chicago de­signer Lete­sha Re­nee launched her la­bel Eu­gene Tay­lor Brand in sum­mer 2015. The col­lec­tion was a study of the ’70s aes­thetic, a time pe­riod Re­nee says was “one of the best eras of dress­ing.” The clothes were char­ac­ter­ized by flared cuts, bright pops of color and metallics. Fol­low­ing that, she branched off into streetwear, which is where she hit her stride, be­com­ing known for cre­at­ing hip, uni­sex, gen­der­less clothes.

The line con­tin­ues to carry a ’70s aes­thetic — bright col­ors, tie-dye, denim and rhine­stones — and is an ex­am­i­na­tion of uni­sex streetwear, with spa­cious sil­hou­ettes, nods to ath­leisure and graphic Tshirts. Re­nee also uses her brand to mag­nify pop cul­ture, like her 2018 “If I Were Diana” col­lec­tion in­spired by Diana Ross, and her Eu­pho­ria dress, based on the HBO show of the same name.

Her cur­rent col­lec­tion, ti­tled “4ALL 4EVA,” em­bod­ies that in­clu­siv­ity. The col­lec­tion, mostly in a neu­tral color pal­ette with bursts of tan­ger­ine, is made up of tai­lored, over­size pieces. Stand­out pieces in­clude the Painter’s Jersey, a black, roomy mus­cle tank that’s em­bla­zoned with Re­nee’s 4ALL logo in crys­tals and splat­tered with white paint. The Bungee Pants are an­other fa­vorite, black jog­gers that are ad­justable with bungee cords at the waist and an­kle. Then there’s the black Tag Top and Tag Pant sweat set; both pieces fea­ture mul­ti­ple pock­ets and white tags that clev­erly share in­for­ma­tion about the line.

“I wanted to take it deeper into gender-neu­tral cloth­ing and re­ally give the per­son wear­ing the pieces more than one way to wear it — in a fem­i­nine or mas­cu­line way,” she says.

Above all, she makes gar­ments that re­flect her life­style and her cre­ative com­mu­nity. “Ev­ery­day peo­ple for me hap­pen to be cre­atives,” she ex­plains. “But my cloth­ing is for all — it’s for ev­ery­one.”

Most of what she cre­ates for the line is a re­sponse to what she thinks “needs to change within the city and what per­son­ally af­fects” her.

She be­lieves Chicago should be more “lov­ing and un­der­stand­ing,” find ways to “up­lift each other” and “be sup­port­ive of each other’s jour­ney, even if we don’t un­der­stand them.”

Cre­at­ing uni­sex clothes is “my stance on equal­ity,”

Re­nee ex­plains. “That’s why I tran­si­tioned into try­ing to be a gen­der­less cloth­ing brand. I try to do my good in a way that’s com­fort­able for me.” Tara C. Ma­hade­van is a free­lance writer.

LETE­SHA RE­NEE

A tulle cape from the “If I Were Diana” col­lec­tion.

LETE­SHA RE­NEE

Over­size cuts and pops of bright orange star in the “4ALL 4EVA” col­lec­tion.

CHRIS SWEDA/ CHICAGO TRI­BUNE

Lete­sha Re­nee

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