Stitched With Good Intention: How Sheila Rashid Approaches Chicago’s Fashion Dialogue

Chances are, you’ve already come across her designs. Sheila Rashid has established herself in Chicago and beyond, generating a brand that is a reflection of her personal taste and style. Every seam is crafted under her watchful eye, rightfully gaining the world’s attention. Sheila sat down with us to talk about her take on fast fashion, ethics in the industry, and how she remains consistent in her work. Keep an eye out for future clothing drops or cop a custom piece made by the one-and-only.

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We sat down with you in 2017 but you’ve been doing your thing for about a decade. How has your career shifted since the beginning?

I’m a made-to-order designer, but pretty much a freelancer. The way I started, in the beginning, is about the same as where I am now. I still enjoy making clothes for people, doing so from scratch and being a direct-to-consumer type of designer.

You design and sew every piece yourself. As your brand takes off and becomes a more popular and invested production, has it gotten difficult to stay as involved in the creation process as you were when you first started?

I think it’s becoming a little more challenging to continue to produce everything at the same level but it’s about finding a balance and getting interns in there to help me out. It has become a bit more work but it’s good because I prefer having multiple things to devote time to and figure out. I am always multitasking. Bringing people into the process is only difficult because I’m such an individualist. I like being alone so I have to grow into having help.

Publications never fail to bring up your shining moment of collaborating with Chance at the 2017 VMA’s. Does it ever get tiresome to still be linked to that one event when you’ve had a lot of success since then?

It doesn’t bother me because it’s a part of my history. It was big to be on that kind of a platform. I understand how people want to continue to talk about it. It’s only been about two years though. Maybe ten years from now I’ll be like, okay, that’s good.

Your pieces have been featured in many magazines and worn by big names like Lena Waithe, Bella Hadid, and Zendaya, to name a few. Is there more pressure when you know your designs are going to be seen by bigger audiences?

There’s no pressure because I embrace all levels of clientele. It doesn’t matter if they’re super huge or a regular person who doesn’t have social media. I embrace it. When I was first contacted to ship something abroad, it was really nice to know that someone from Australia wanted a piece and that my brand had reached people outside the United States. I feel good knowing that people aren’t only paying attention locally, but globally.

Your line, ALL SZN, dropped in Fall 2018 and represents a made-to-order unisex style that reflects your own personality. How do you combine tomboy and feminine qualities?

It’s about being relaxed. Universally, I look at people as one. I want people to feel comfortable and wear something that doesn’t necessarily feel as though it has to be feminine or masculine. It should be neutral and you shouldn’t even have to question whether you can wear something or not. I try to figure out ways to keep that balance because that’s how I style myself as well. It’s a piece of my personal style.

Unfortunately, fast fashion companies are constantly accused by small business owners of design-fraud. Louis Vuitton even posted a look-alike to a custom pair of pants you made, which you commented on Instagram as “prob a coincidence.” How big of an issue is this in the design world?

It’s definitely a huge issue. It’s even bigger now because you have huge fast fashion companies like FashionNova who are taking over the celebrity clientele, but also stripping and stealing ideas from other designers, big and small. It’s a whole big mess. Fast fashion is not good for the environment or anyone. It’s exploiting people in other countries and everyone plays a part in it. People should think about what they’re doing but no one really seems to care about who it’s affecting. The consumer has to stop contributing to it. When you look at a t-shirt that costs five bucks, there are many things that go into making it even though it’s a basic t-shirt. It shouldn’t even cost that much. It’s that cheap to make and the worker’s labor is exploited. It’s a double-edged sword because people in those countries need work. There’s imbalance everywhere as far as capitalism goes.

Major brands like Gucci have caused recent controversy with their pieces that resemble blackface. Although fashion is all about challenging normalities, is there/should there be a stronger standard of ethics in the fashion industry?

Absolutely. Especially because these big brands depend on the dollar of all kinds of people. It doesn’t matter your race, they depend on everyone. But they’re not thinking about the group of people that they offend. Or maybe they do think about it. At this point, they pretty much do it for fun and know it’s going to go viral and piss people off. It’s a trend to be racist. It’s weird. It goes through a ton of stages before it goes online. They know what they’re doing.

What is your starting point and process for a new design, especially when it comes to custom pieces?

It’s random. Sometimes I come across a piece, maybe someone’s walking down the street wearing something I think is cool, and I’ll stare at it trying to think of how it was made. I’ll incorporate different things that I come across into my designs to make it my own. I pull inspiration from anywhere. I never know where it’s going to happen.

In your recent Vogue interview, you emphasized how layering comes naturally to you in the freezing temperatures. Do you ever think how your creative style would be different if you weren’t from Chicago?

It’d definitely be super different. Growing up in Chicago, it’s always been super cold weather every winter. You get acclimated to it and learn how to adjust but if I was in Miami, it’d be different. It’d probably be more shorts and t-shirts as opposed to the coats. I’d probably never own a coat.  

You were recruited by Nissan for Black History Month. As you link with more brands, how are you able to collaborate effectively and still get your message across?

Definitely making sure that the collaboration is beneficial to both of us and being vigilant. I make sure that it’s something that’s on-brand for myself. If it’s something that’s completely out of my realm, I’ll rethink it and see how it can work. I try to find the best way to execute a collaboration, but having that dialogue with each other is key. Right now, I’m trying to figure out how to make the whole soccer thing work. I was asked to make some soccer jerseys and it’s really new for me. I’m figuring out if I’ll be able to do it and not go over my head. I’ve got a few campaigns coming out soon which is pretty dope too. Everything’s good.


Written by: Andrea Carrillo

Header Photo by: Nolis

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