“I had to build my own hype to be seen,” says George Sully, reflecting on his decade-long career in the fashion industry. He’s launched brands like House of Hayla and Sully Wong, designed footwear for the show Star Trek: Discovery and is featured in the Bata Shoe Museum’s collection. Even so, the Toronto-based shoe designer has always felt overlooked. “[I thought] I can’t be the only one who has to go through this same system.”
That’s what inspired him to develop an interactive index highlighting the work of Black designers from across Canada. The platform, which launched this month, features mini profiles on designers and brands in fashion, interior design, industrial design, graphic design and furniture design.
Designers can self-submit to be featured through the website or on Instagram. Currently, the index features over 130 names including established and emerging designers like Canadian Arts and Fashion Awards-winning evening wear label Greta Constantine and luxury ready-to-wear brand Israella Kobla. “[They feel like they’re finally] getting put somewhere where they’re counted – to be part of something outside from their own social media,” says Sully. “Things are changing and that’s why we created this, knowing that there’s change in the air.”
He has also launched a GoFundMe with the goal of raising $25,000 to pay a team to work on biographies for the platform. Sully hopes that as names get added, more people in the fashion industry like buyers, photographers and stylists will use the resource to further amplify Black designers.
For Sully, the ultimate goal is to support those working now and the next generation. “If I [had this when I was starting out], I would have had so much more awareness of my surroundings and love for my fellow peers,” he says. “That young designer is going to see it in real time and that’s everything right there.”
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