The annual OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards celebrates young visionaries and identifies the next big name in fashion. With 2017's finalists named, the heat is on for this year's OUT Fashion Vanguard Award designers. Three of the industry's brightest LGBTQ new names find themselves vying for the top honorary award that will help jump-start their careers in fashion. Now it's time to meet this year's OUT Fashion Vanguard Award contenders.
DaShaun Hightower is a fashion designer originally from New Britain Connecticut. His design aesthetic can be described as a grungy mix between streetwear and high fashion, mixing in a lot of layering, suggested movement, and a steady punk undertone.
DaShaun describes his design experience as varied, stating he's been all over the place from designing for startups while in Boston to working as a freelance tailor. "When I first moved to Chicago I was a tailor for a couple of months before moving into corporate America. I didn't really start to push my designs until the Summer of 2016 after I was laid off. I decided to take this opportunity and push my designs. At first it was really subtle but the more I developed the more I found my voice as a designer." DaShaun was surprised that people gravitated towards his designs, showing them more and more appreciation. "I started getting features in publications such as LadyGunn, Girl Mag, ID, and even got a photography highlight on Vouge.it . These achievements gave me the affirmation that this was a career path that I should explore more" says DaShaun.
DaShaun has expressed that his design icons are the infamous duo Viktor & Rolf. "The reason why I appreciate their designs is because there is both emotion and imagination behind the pieces. I feel as though fashion should be an expression of yourself and I feel as though they have done that in every collection."
Another style icon that DaShaun is drawn to is Grace Jones, stating that he finds her eclectic nature to be inspiring to people who want to affirm their individuality. "To me she is someone who is experimental, authentic, and intelligent."
DaShaun feels that he should be OUT's Fashion Vanguard because of his extreme passion for design. "To me it's not about the glitz and glam it's about the technique and the showmanship. I feel as though I am living proof that if you say something enough times it will happen. I took my dream and created my own opportunities and I feel like that proactive nature is something that can inspire others to pursue their dreams as well."
Meet the other two OUT Fashion Vanguard Finalists Nicolas Bilodeau and Marquise Foster. Stay tuned to see all three progress as they each design a custom look to be showcased at the OUT Fashion Vanguard Awards in Los Angeles on March 30th.