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Unity: Equality Fashion Week celebrates inclusive brands and LGBTQ designers

Unity: Equality Fashion Week
Looks from L.A. label August Brave shown at Unity: Equality Fashion Week in Los Angeles on Sunday.
(Mars Arayza)

Nik Kacy, a shoe designer and nonbinary queer activist, blended fashion, music and activism for the sold-out Unity: Equality Fashion Week gala Sunday at the Globe Theatre in downtown Los Angeles.

Now in its second year, the event, which featured 110 models, 37 dancers, five hosts, live musicians and a DJ, was created to help uplift the LGBTQIA2S (which adds intersex, asexual/ally and Two-Spirit to the acronym) community, particularly people of color, transgender people and nonbinary queers.

The organizer and founder

Allison K. Joseph and Nik Kacy at Unity: Equality Fashion Week
Allison K. Joseph of August Brave, left, and designer Nik Kacy at Unity: Equality Fashion Week.
(Mars Arayza)
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“From designers, hair and makeup artists to models, we created a platform for members of our community to shine and increase visibility,” Kacy told The Times. “Having a safe space with inclusion and diversity is our mission because through exposure and visibility is where understanding and acceptance comes from.”

This time, Kacy, who uses pronouns they and them, was thrilled that they had the representation of all the LGBTQIA2S letters of the community. “This year, my focus was unity — the fact we need to all step up and lift one another and not only show up but show out despite the immense challenges.”

When Kacy is not hard at work with activism, they work on their luxury footwear line. (“I have a new collection of colors of my holsters premiering soon, and my new Combat H8 boots are out now,” Kacy said.)

Performers and designers

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The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles performs during Unity: Equality Fashion Week on Sunday.
The Trans Chorus of Los Angeles performs during Unity: Equality Fashion Week on Sunday.
(Mars Arayza)

The event started off on a somber note with an onscreen list of trans people of color who have been killed in the last year, followed by a moving performance by the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles.

“The best thing tonight was the solace of performing among a group of like-minded individuals without any compromise,” said artistic director Abdullah Hall.

Unity: Equality Fashion Week
A runway look from label Geek Junky as part of Unity: Equality Fashion Week in Los Angeles.
(Mars Arayza)

In addition to showcasing their work during the fashion show, up-and-coming inclusive designers and labels /FEM/HAÜS, Sharpe Suiting, SaylorBone, Javon Wolf, Vanity Dollz & Jean Marie Designz, Morgasm, the Unapologetic Co., Shakita Wylie and Kate Manzella are also featuring their outfits as part of a three-day pop-up experience, which ends Wednesday. (The pop-up is from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 4870 W. Adams Blvd., Los Angeles.)

“When I heard about this amazing opportunity with Equality Fashion week and what the event stands for, I wanted to participate instantly,” said designer Chaniques Quinones whose label, Geek Junky, is inspired by Afrofuturism and Japan’s Harajuku culture.

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“Nik made me and everyone around feel important — and the actual physical act of showing kindness and love by giving us a platform and an audience to share our passion with,” Quinones said. “I am honored to say I experienced a moment that will last me and my team for a lifetime.”

The words “Immigrants Made AMERICA” appear on the bare abdomen of a male runway model for Sharpe Suiting during Unity.
A runway look from Sharpe Suiting during Unity: Equality Fashion Week in Los Angeles.
(Mars Arayza)

Quinones said the warm response from the packed event was appreciated. “The audience experienced an intimate encounter with my inner thoughts, my dreams, my fears and my form of coping with mental illness through whimsical pieces including horns, vibrant colors and unconventional materials combined,” the designer said.

Also on hand for the event was stylist and sustainable designer Gingi Medina, founder of Equites Clothing, who took time away from building her clean production/garment facility to present the brand August Brave with the emerging designer award.

Gingi Medina
Gingi Medina at Unity: Equality Fashion Week in Los Angeles.
(Susan Hornik)

Medina, a veteran in sustainable fashion, lost many of her fashions after her home and design studio burned during the Malibu wildfires last year.

“I didn’t have enough of a collection to show, but Nik Kacy loves supporting our community,” Medina said. “They wanted to feature what I did recently in my Bali design studio. These are custom avant-garde pieces made for some of my Burning Man high-society clientele, jackets and holsters, which gives any look a kick in the pants.”

BlackManWhiteBaby

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Gingi Medina, from left, Nik Kacy and BlackManWhiteBaby at Unity: Equality Fashion Week.
Gingi Medina, from left, Nik Kacy and BlackManWhiteBaby at Unity: Equality Fashion Week.
(Susan Hornik)

Multimedia artist and activist BlackManWhiteBaby walked the runway twice, once wearing a soft-pink and white jumpsuit by Morgasm and a black military-style boot designed by Kacy.

“I closed the first part of the show wearing a vintage Bob Mackie halo accessorized with a silver thong and platform heels. Basically naked!” said BlackManWhiteBaby whose image “We Are One” will be featured at the Photo L.A. in January. (He will have a solo show of his work in the spring.)

“It meant so much to me to be a part of this worthwhile event,” he said. “I walked into a room full of love. Queer folk, like me, with nothing but love and acceptance to offer. This show’s focus on unity says there is hope. Queer people leading the way into a new way being [and] living. As an African American gay artist, it’s validating to be surrounded by supportive, accepting, creative individuals.”

BlackManWhiteBaby said he loved how Kacy took creative risks — and brought the event to life. “I find it encouraging,” he said. “As an artist, we sometimes have to push boundaries in order to be seen and heard. The message Nik is bringing is important.”


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