Designer Turns Untold Dark Stories Into Wearable Art

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Photo: Chad Robertson Media (Shutterstock)

Jaquial Durham had what most would consider an unusual entry into the fashion world. After deciding to forgo his high school prom, the future designer took the money his grandmother gave him for his tuxedo to launch his fashion line. “She was upset, but that’s what I wanted to do” Durham told Greenville News.

These days though? This small investment pays off a lot. While he had a rough start in the fashion industry, Durham was able to successfully start a media business by the name of Public Culture while waiting for its big break. During this time, he also worked to earn his bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and earned two master’s degrees from George Washington University and Georgetown University.

Years later, as Durham rekindled his passion for fashion, he was able to combine his studies with his media business and launched a fashion line that would tell the hidden stories of black leaders and organizations on the campuses of predominantly white institutions.

“On white campuses in the South, there is an untold story,” he said.

The recently released capsule collection features hand-painted visuals on the garments that highlight the people who played a pivotal role in shaping the communities they belonged to. The coins also feature a qr code which when scanned offers more detail of the image backstory.

The collection took almost two and a half years, but Durham couldn’t be happier with the divine timing of it all.

“It was a perfect timing as I was also recently admitted for my PhD at Clemson,” Durham said. “And so it was perfect, getting admitted to college, coming home and being more involved in the community.”

The first coin in the collection features the Student League for Black Identity (SLBI), a student-run organization known for promoting and preserving culture and history in Clemson. Upcoming plays will feature Harvey Gantt, the first African-American student admitted to Clemson, and the Littlejohn Grill, a hangout frequented by Black Clemson residents.

“I decided to release them separately because I wanted to give each piece its own story of living in its own life and its own time to shine,” Durham said.

While the full collection is about to debut, you can buy the first pieces now at thepublicculturecollections.com.

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