Story by Haley Humphrey
Photos by Bailey Bussell
Soon, other designers’ models embodied the feminist power on the runway. Dior gained inspiration from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, a feminist and author of the a compelling essay titled “We Should All Be Feminists.” This phrase became the slogan printed on white T-shirts created by artistic director Maria Grazia Chiuri. Many other designers hopped on the mambo line of T-shirts with phrases like “Full-Time Feminist” and “The Future is Female.” Simple clothing articles were gaining momentum, reaching unstoppable speed.
The marches continued across the country through the beginning of 2018. However, the protesters voiced strong feminist views addressing a plethora of concerns, not just traditional women’s rights. One of these views, intersectional feminism, states the liberation of women is tied to the liberation of all, so while some marched only against the Trump administration, intersectional feminists marched for the liberation of the LGBTQ community, people of color and those of lower socioeconomic status.
In addition, many people are worried about the quality of employment for women.
In a society filled with judgment, many women have a difficult time expressing themselves comfortably. Having to worry about the quality of their jobs, a significant part of their lives, is cumbersome. Most people forget that the fashion designers of the world are subliminally addressing this. They are giving the women of the world the tools they need to express their power, to be seen and heard in any workplace environment.
A huge aspect of first impressions is what a person wears. Each time someone walks into a room, they are making a statement about who they are and how they want people to remember them.
Kyle Tony Tahkeal, creative director of his fashion line Tony Tahkeal, understands the importance of first impressions. An Oklahoma native, Tahkeal traveled to Seattle, where he completed his fashion education at the New York Fashion Academy. Tahkeal worked in visual merchandising for five years and has been a fashion designer for three years. He noted how crucial self-expression is.
“I have always seen fashion as an expression of your personality,” Tahkeal said. “Fashion was sort of my icebreaker with people. So, I decided I wanted to design clothes that not only show my creativity and personality as a designer, but maybe I can help people express themselves as well.”
Tahkeal lives by the motto: “If you look good, you feel good.” He said women of all colors, shapes and sizes can embrace their look and pull off high-fashion products. Self-confidence is a key element in any fashion situation and throughout life, which is why feminism is important to designers like Tahkeal.
New designs that encompass bold, sophisticated and sexy looks are on the horizon. Tahkeal cannot wait to share his new collection with the world.
“I am hoping that I can empower and inspire women to take charge of their lives with my designs and really live their best life,” Tahkeal said.
People across the world can watch the feminist movement expand through fashion—a political array of colorful fabrics stitched together to signify one universal declaration: Strength. There is strength in numbers. The band of feminist followers is not exclusive to women. The more people involved to recognize women’s rights, the merrier unity will be.
This is not to say the inherent disadvantages and challenges women face bar them from enjoying work. Many enjoy their place of work and are members of all-women colleague groups.
For instance, The Collective, an all-women working space, was established in OKC in June 2016. The project is marketed largely through various Instagram accounts, which spread information about businesses holding events at The Collective, such as Crafting & Cocktails and Cookies by Sydnie.
Alyssa Loveless, The Village housing director at Rose State, has been to The Collective a few times for hand-lettering classes, open paint nights and cookie decorating classes.
“[The Collective has a] very welcoming, encouraging [and] supportive women vibe. The décor is fun and modern, there’s always good music playing and it’s an opportunity to meet other ladies,” Loveless said.
The establishment has 30 members and counting, according to Amber Klunzinger, owner of The Collective. She said the members range from “attorneys to makeup artists, business coaches to graphic designers.”
Klunzinger created the space when she was working independently, fresh from the corporate world. She explained how she felt isolated; the need for a women’s community weighed on her mind.
“I saw a need for women to come together to support one another in both personal and professional capacities as well as a convenient and peaceful place to work,” Klunzinger said.
The Collective sprouted from this idea. The design elements that Loveless observed coincided with how Klunzinger envisioned her dream home office: bright and airy, comforting, yet professional. This atmosphere plays a role in how the women of the group support each other through good times and hardships.
Klunzinger claimed she has received waves of positive feedback from the surrounding community, despite consistently being asked about feminism in her line of work.
“I have a brother. I was always the girl with the guy friends. My natural bent was away from any ‘women’s’ type of event or club,” Klunzinger said, sharing her outlook on feminism. “My greatest mentors, challengers [and] cheerleaders in my life have been men. I opened a female-only space because I felt called to do so. I had a lack of strong female supportive relationships in my life and I saw that all around me. So, I made a place where they could happen - community over competition - and by the grace of God it has turned into a beautiful thing.”
Most all-women organizations are not built on opposing the male sex. Klunzinger discussed how she has been dismissed more by women than she has by men. Her goal was to never shun the male population, but rather to form a unifying area for women to build each other up. In her eyes, the men present in her life could be classified as feminists, though they may not categorize themselves that way.
The owner takes humble pride in what she has structured with the help from both sexes.
Klunzinger also does not take for granted the role that fashion plays in The Collective. She explained how the signature article of clothing that best represents her organization is a pair of distressed jeans. Klunzinger appreciates the freedom from a strict dress code at The Collective.
“The freedom to not only wear what we want to our jobs, but to be the ones who pick what that job actually looks like is something I try not to take for granted. Whether that is owning your own company or chasing after kiddos or a 9-to-5 or anything in between ...We have the power to make it happen,” Klunzinger concluded.
The 6420 is a student publication at Rose State College.