Get To Know: Sukeina

Fashion

Sukeina was founded in 2012 by Omar Salam, a Parsons grad who left Christian Lacroix to start the line that he named after his mother. This is his first New York Fashion Week, in the same year in which he was appointed director of an investment group that supports luxury goods made in Africa. His passion for the art and techniques from that continent were woven through his collection this season, per Vogue:

Dubbed “miracle,” it centers on the idea of having a seat at the table, something Black creators have continuously struggled to receive. In Salam’s view, the industry’s tendency toward gatekeeping limits its creative potential. “If one color is missing, the picture can’t be complete,” he shared on the phone from Brooklyn. “They might not [explicitly] say that someone isn’t allowed in the room, but when all that is necessary to get into those rooms excludes an entire group, the message is clear.”

To counter that idea, he delved into cross-cultural reference points, looking to traditional Malian dress, Kenya’s Maasai tribe, and the Bassari people of the West African region. When European designers draw from indigenous cultures, the result is often literal or (much worse) stereotypical. In utilizing techniques specific to the African continent—primarily the intricate braiding and weaving used throughout the collection—Salam hoped to create something new by tapping into tradition. “These elements are what inspired Michael Jackson in music, Beyoncé in dance, Jean Paul Gaultier in fashion, and Yves Saint Laurent throughout the ’70s,” explains Salam. “Africa has had such a profound influence.”

[Photos: Imaxtree]