Discovering his niche in fashion, Stevie worked under local designers such as Barbara Bates and Reginald Thomas where he gained unique experience.
Fashion designer Stevie Edwards born and raised on the Southside of Chicago got his start in fashion by attending Dunbar Vocational High School majoring in tailoring. After discovering his talent in fashion, he proceeded to continue his fashion journey by attending the Illinois Institute of Art majoring in Fashion Design.
Could you tell me briefly about your beginning in the Fashion industry and what inspired you?
Well, I go way back in fashion. It started in high school, I majored in tailoring and from there I went to college and majored in fashion design. That’s when I found my niche of what I wanted to do. I was discovered by the Icon, Eunice Johnson, the owner of Ebony Jet Magazine, she’s deceased now. She was the one that actually discovered me and gave me the motivation to go ahead and pursue my dream. From then on I worked under local designers in Chicago, Barbara Bates and Reginald Thomas. I learned different things from them and from then I branched out and started my own brand, opened 3 stores and traveled to Europe. I have been featured in a lot of editorials like W, Vogue, Ebony, Miami Herald and I did multiple fashion shows. So what inspired me, um, it all depends, I am inspired by nature, by fabrics and what’s going on in the world today. It’s a number of things that inspire me to be creative.
At what moment did you come to understand that the fashion business was your path in life?
I would say when I made my gowns, I was a college student and Eunice Johnson purchased my evening gown, she featured them in her Ebony Fashion Fair show, that traveled around the world and that particular show had all the major high-end designers like Emanuel Ungaro and so forth. And little old me, Stevie Edwards was on the stage with all these big European designers and other types of designers. That made me think that I could do this.
What kinds of wears or clothing are the bestsellers in your shops?
My things are one of a kind. I like to do one on one with customers, I like to go by appointment only and my things are custom. I mainly deal with women’s dresses, sportswear, I do evening wears, avant-garde, whatever the customer would want. I call my dresses “Grown and Sexy,” they are very different, sexy and high fashioned. My customers look for something different and one of a kind and that’s what I do. When I get a client, I ask them to just let me take over, this is what I do, and this is my passion. So, my bestsellers are the “Grown and Sexy” dresses.
What are your creative business plans for the nearest future?
I plan on conquering the fashion world because I want to get to that moment when you see an actor, I would say actor because I am thinking Oscars. I am thinking of dominating because you don’t hear when the actors and actresses walk on the red carpet and they are asked, “Who are you wearing?” and the majority of the time, what are they saying? European designers, not one African-American designer is in the mainstream fashion and that’s sad. So, I want to break that barrier, I want them to say, “I am wearing Stevie Edwards,” all across the board, it doesn’t matter what ethnicity you are. I just want to dominate because I can’t think of one African-American high fashion/high-end designer that’s mainstream. I don’t know if it’s just a Hollywood thing or the stylists just won’t come to an independent artist, but I am going to go through those loopholes and make it happen. That’s my goal.
What are you going to showcase at the Black Fashion Week USA?
I am going to give them a little bit of everything. The “Grown and Sexy” of course, this collection is called the love collection. It’s all about love, that’s what the world needs now. Even my music is ‘Love Hangover’ by Diana Ross. So, it’s fun, it’s sexy, it’s grown and all about love. I am going to show you some sexy women sportswear, contemporary evening gowns, just sexy high fashion things.
What do you expect from the Black Fashion Week USA? And how does it help designers to develop their business?
I expect to inspire other people who want to design or up and coming designers because I’ve been doing this for 30 years. And I expect other designers who are trying out to look at me and say, “Hey, I can do that!” Of course, I expect exposure and publicity. I am trying to rebuild my brand and this is actually my first fashion show this year. So, I plan on bringing it.
Do you know about the trend “Black 4 Black” or “Buy Black” which calls people to support black owned and developed businesses? Do you feel like you are a part of this trend?
Yes, I do. I really love supporting black owned anything. I mean, we should support our own people.
What would be your advice to designers who are just starting up?
My advice to designers who are just starting up would be, you know your own vision, some people are trained killers, don’t tell people what you are doing, just do it. Because people will kill your dreams, they don’t see your vision; you are the only one who sees your vision. Just keep doing what you visualize that you want to do and keep going for your goal. You don’t have to share it with anyone; the result at the end is what you share with them, not in the beginning.