It’s no secret that breaking into the fashion industry isn’t easy, especially for Black women. Having worked at the fashion houses of Zac Posen, Rachel Roy, and Tim Coppens for years, this is something Alisha Alexander knew first-hand.
As the Atlanta native’s career flourished, she noticed that she was one of few women of color in the room, That, and she started to recognized the barriers that luxury designers of color faced, which included the lack of opportunity to have their brand showcased and brought into larger stories.
But never one to accept the status quo, Alexander realized there was a way to do her part to fix this gap, continue with her love of fashion and create her own business in the process. Enter: Coveted Collections.
Created in 2018 and located in Las Vegas, this luxury multicultural pop-up shop is a way for emerging and established independent designers to showcase their brands. Even better? This past August, she hosted her very first event that was a complete and total success, helping local and national designers connect with influencers and fashionistas alike.
HelloBeautiful sat down with Alexander to talk about amplifying the voices of women of color designers, her own fashion beginnings and what she hopes we take away from her labor of love.
HelloBeautiful: First, tell us how you got started in fashion?
Alisha Alexander: It was a pretty organic journey for me. Growing up, I was a pretty tall fit girl and an Aries, so in 10th grade, I wanted to know why these stores didn’t have my size. So I asked those questions and I got a three-minute lesson on buying and merchandising from a sales manager. And I was like, wait? You all pay people to shop? That was my introduction to fashion.
HB: You’ve worked under folks like Zac Posen, Rachel Roy, and Tim Coppens. What were some of the biggest lessons you learned being at those brands?
AA: The biggest thing I learned was the lack of diversity. Back then, I didn’t have the language to say it like that. I didn’t realize that being the only Black girl in the room all the time was problematic. I didn’t know how many Black and brown girls wanted those coveted positions. We all paid the same money for school, and yet so many of them couldn’t get into the rooms I was in.
Sadly at the time, I didn’t appreciate the fact that I was the one in those rooms, gaining that experience. I was just concerned and focused on my own personal goals and how one day I was going to branch out and do my own thing.
I also learned that there are more careers in fashion other than buying and design. Product design was something that I leaned into, and it’s not always a role that people think about or look for. I feel like you have to already be in the circles to catch onto those keywords and opportunities.
HB: Explain what product development means?
AA: Product development is pretty much everything that happens between the designer’s sketches to how it makes it to the runway. It includes communicating with the factory and suppliers, print quality and graphic design to the overall fit. If you were working on a product at Apple, this would be all the things you do before you sell it in stores.
HB: So what prompted you to create Coveted Collections?
AA: When I first landed on the website of designer Felisha Noel [of Fe Noel], whose such a she’s a great brand and celebrities and stylists are finally pulling her. And given my background, I live for fashion news and have done my due diligence to stay informed. Yet, I hadn’t heard a whisper about her my entire career. It made me upset. The media and industry coverage isn’t where it’s supposed to be. Being a Black woman not knowing another Black female designer existed is a problem. And it’s not that the talent isn’t there, we’re just not having the important conversations with them to bring their work to light.
Doing research, we found that less than 4 percent of designers identify as black, while only 40 percent of women are in leadership positions within the top 300 brands. This really resonated with me because while Black women have been inspiring these fashion trends, but we have been pushed out of the conversation.
I wanted to do something about that.
HB: So how does Coveted Collections work?
AA: We highlight women-led and cultural brands that do not have a dedicated space within the fashion world to highlight the collections that they create. For our first Pop-Up shop, we recruited 10-15 upscale designers who should be sitting in Saks, Neiman Marcus, and Bloomingdales. From there, we did all the marketing and promoted the designers and the party, which was at a secret location.
HB: That sounds fun!
AA: It was! We had a runway show, allowed shoppers to try on clothes and make a sale that day. We’re starting with two events a year and will work our way up to three events for the spring, summer and holiday in the future.
HB: What was the response to your first event?
AA: It was amazing! We planned for 8 weeks but only spent two weeks promoting it and yet, the turnout was amazing. On the first day, which was invite-only, we had nearly 200 people and on the sip-and-see open, which was open to the public on the second day, 100 people showed up. It was so validating.
HB: So why have you decided to set up shop in Las Vegas? How do you see the city changing in terms of its fashion and the demand?
AA: Vegas is changing. The tourists and loyal locals love getting dressed for events and being seen. It surprised me, but folks here love legacy brands and have multiple stores on the strip. But people don’t want to show up to the events wearing the same thing. So Coveted Collections offers our clientele something fresh and new, but still luxury and matching their personal style and swag.
HB: Tell me about some of the brands that were at your first market? I also saw you have a male shoe designer.
AA: Yes! Eric Jones and his LFLS shoes are fantastic. They are [handcrafted in] Brazil and have these amazing gold tips. At the event, his brand really resonated with the men. Even the DJ stepped out of the DJ booth to buy a pair of shoes!
We have also had Paige Alexander, who’s from Louisiana and the CEO of L’Jai Amor. She does these sexy and thoughtful hand-sewn pieces. In terms of jewelry, we had the local Rejected Hearts Club, whose creator, Jamie Batiste, used a break up to create this line to promote the idea of finding yourself.
HB: What do you hope people take away from Coveted Collections?
AA: At its core, we are here to inspire people to shop and support right within our own community. But most importantly, I hope that can trickle down to that one little girl who wants to go into fashion but didn’t think its a viable career for her. I want her to know it’s possible.
Learn more about Coveted Collections and how to register your brand here.