If you keep up with the fashion industry, you've heard the statistics:
- Spring 2019 Runway shows were the most racially diverse ever, but Europe still has a major age & body diversity problem. (The Fashion Spot)
- By 2025, management-consulting firm Bain & Company predicts luxury shoppers will consider a brand’s values, such as inclusivity and diversity, just as much as the quality of the products it sells when deciding how to spend their money. (Quartz)
- Though the fashion industry largely caters toward women, only 14 percent of major brands are run by a woman. (The Cut)
- The Council of Fashion Designers of America, a trade group of about 500 leading American designers, last year added the first unisex and nonbinary category to the New York Fashion Week calendar. (The New York Times)
- Lyst has reported a 47% increase in shoppers looking for items that have ethical and style credentials with terms such as “vegan leather” and “organic cotton”. (Forbes)
Meet the local women who are aiming to change the future of fashion as we know it, empowering consumers to lead with their values, while still creating fashion-forward pieces.
Renee Hill, designer & founder of Harx4; Project Runway Season 17 contestant
Having a passion for fashion is an understatement when describing Philadelphia-based designer Renee Hill. She breathes design: shapes, colors, cuts, textures - she’s in a world all her own. Her label, Harx4, is only a glimpse into how Hill sees the world: as a palette to be painted, a mannequin to be dressed, and redressed as the day progresses.
Upon relocation from New York to Philadelphia, Hill slowly but surely began to develop what she wanted to be the Harx4 standard: custom, new-age classic pieces for everyone seeking to express themselves through trend-setting timeless garments for every occasion.
Self-taught in the basics of sewing and design, Hill quickly developed her own distinct following. Known for her intricate tailoring, she has made impressions upon neighbors, friends, and family members when creating special occasion garments including wedding dresses, prom gowns, and business suits.
“I fell in love with her ability to cut garments to fit just right,” said a Harx4 long-term client when asked about her relationship with Renee during the early stages of her career as a seamstress. “She is aware of how fabric moves and shifts with the body, in tune with how it lays and flows. These are things that you don’t learn in class. It only comes with experience.”
To further hone her skills, Hill decided to take formal classes at the Moore College of Art and Design. “I’ll never stop learning,” Hill says. “You will never know everything about fashion, you have to keep learning, ask questions, ask for help and try new daring things if you want to grow as a designer. When you convince yourself you know everything, you lose your creativity.”
Hill moved quickly while enrolled in design school. She found the funding to rent a studio and stopped taking clients in her home. As a full-time designer, Hill spends her time in fabric stores, sketching designs and seeking opportunities to have her pieces seen on runways, in publications, and in boutiques.
Renee Hill is influenced by so many experiences, many based on travel and the people from various cultures she’s met throughout her life. Those experiences are where she finds the drive to create lively garments that push people to examine themselves, not only their appearances, but their purposes in life.
Mary Alice Duff, designer & founder of Alice Alexander
Mary Alice Duff is founder and owner of Alice Alexander, a size-inclusive, ethical and sustainable women’s apparel brand on a mission to radically change the fashion industry.
Alice Alexander launched in September 2017 from the third floor of Duff’s Philadelphia home. With very little money, no connections and no experience in the industry, in a little over a year Mary Alice raised over $70K, built a garment manufacturing studio and e-commerce apparel site, found a customer based and has sustained the business through sheer grit (and sales).
Over the next five years the goal at Alice Alexander, beyond connecting more socially conscious women to responsibly made clothing, is to create 100+ manufacturing jobs for low-income Philadelphians, creating living wage jobs in a city racked with poverty.
Prior to launching Alice Alexander, Mary Alice worked as a nonprofit executive, with a master’s in social work and expertise in poverty alleviation, homelessness and workforce development. Duff spent 10 years working with and for low-income families raising funds, delivering services, designing programs, measuring impact, and providing program oversight. In her last 2 years in the nonprofit sector, as Chief of Staff for a mid-sized, Philadelphia-based nonprofit, Mary Alice had complete oversight and responsibility of programming for 2000 clients, 140 staff, 6 direct reports and a 9 million dollar program operating budget.
When she’s not brand building, designing, or hanging out on Instagram, Mary Alice can be found in her Philly neighborhood of East Falls with her husband of 6 years, their 4 year old daughter with their rescue dog and street cat.
To learn more about Alice Alexander or to shop the collection visit www.alicealexander.co
Kee Tobar, designer & founder of Pauli's Room
Whiquitta “Kee” Tobar is a practicing attorney, author and entrepreneur. She is the founder of Pauli’s Room, an online apparel store appealing to all folks interested in a casual butch aesthetic.
Anita Oh, style and travel blogger, TV journalist & law student
Anita Oh is a former Philadelphia-based television journalist, who is currently pursuing a dual JD/MBA at the University of Pennsylvania Law School and The Wharton School. She is interested in pursuing a career at the intersection of privacy law and innovation. Passionate about fashion and travel, she also produces digital content for her style blog, Oh-Anita.com.
Join us as we discuss where fashion has come from, where it's going, and the road to truly inclusive fashion.