BY: BELEN SELASSIE
GLOSSRAGS is a brand based in D.C., whose "Stay Woke" collection has brought awareness to the police brutality that’s affecting the black community. The "And Counting" t-shirts are a collection bearing the names of 17 brothers and sisters who have lost their lives at the hands of police & vigilante justice violence.
We sat down with GLOSSRAGS founder Randi Gloss as she discussed how she separates herself from other artists, where she gets her inspiration from and more.
What was your inspiration for your “Stay Woke” collection?
STAY WOKE definitely isn’t a new phrase. In August 2014, just a few months after GLOSSRAGS became a reality in April, one of my homegirls asked me if I was working on any new designs. I mentioned, “Doing a STAY WOKE shirt or something,” but didn’t say much else. A few months later when 2015 rolled around, I remember sitting down to sketch new pieces for the spring and summer. My friend’s brand, ANMLHSE, out of Philly did a coaches jacket back in 2013 and Supreme had coaches jackets on deck for their Spring/Summer 2015 line. The phrase,“STAY WOKE” stuck with me but I wanted the design to have more depth than just a popular phrase. There’s a group of West African symbols called Adinkra symbols created by the Akan people that embody concepts and aphorisms. After researching the different symbols, Epa stood out the most to me. Epa is the visual symbol of handcuffs that represents law and order as well as slavery and justice. To me, quite a bit of hypocrisy and bondage persists in the United States.
What other projects are you currently working on right now?
I’m working on a documentary and web-series about unapologetic narratives of Blackness across the country that I’m really excited about. I’m also working on planning events and new designs.
How would you best describe your own style?
My style is really fluid. You can catch me in a skirt and blouse one day and in boyfriend jeans and sneakers on the next day. I observe fashion trends and waves then put my own twist on them. Sometimes, I shop the men’s sections in H&M and Forever 21 because the fabrics are sturdier and fit my shape better.
Has growing up in DC inspired GLOSSRAGS in anyway?
Coincidentally, I think DC was the perfect place to start GLOSSRAGS. It’s a “big” city yet small enough for creative development and ownership that you might struggle to cultivate in LA or New York. I’m incredibly appreciative of the creative community that exists within the District. DC is home to people from all over so it’s almost like receiving support from across the country while being in the capitol of the United States that is pretty dope if you ask me.
What direction do you want to see GLOSSRAGS going in the next 5 years?
Man, that’s a huge question. I want The And Counting Collection to come to an end in the same way that I want this attack on my black brothers and sisters to come an end. I can’t express how it feels to have to add name after name yet I really have no idea the pain, anguish and sorrow the families experience losing a loved one to police brutality and racial injustice. I want GLOSSRAGS Media Co. to create content that really shakes up people’s very existence. That makes them question the things they’ve been told and accepted as truth. On the fashion side, I just want to keep making designs that make people uncomfortable and challenges them to think critically.
How do you separate yourself from other artists?
That’s a good question. I view it less as separation and more of nurturing what gifts and talents I have. I love to write, create, ask questions, express myself, and challenge the norm and in doing those things, I am an artist. Comparing yourself and competiveness is counterproductive. My biggest competitor is myself.
What are your favorite things to do in DC?
I love to eat, people watch and dance in DC. DC’s restaurant scene is seemingly endless. I’m still trying to eat my way down 14th Street and all throughout the quadrants. The beautiful thing is you can enjoy an amazing meal at a whole in the wall just as much as you can at a restaurant ran by a celebrity chef. In DC, you can get down on basically any day of the week—I’m talking salsa, two-stepping or just straight up grooving. There are local DJ’s on any given Tuesday that can satisfy your need to shake it. As far as people watching goes, you can literally sit on a corner and see a blend of suits and tourists to movers and shakers to transients and everything in between. It's just like that.