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Amarachi Ukachu, clothing designer - New Orleans, Lousiana

Tell me about this outfit.

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I made this outfit myself. It’s actually a two-piece, the fabric was purchased by my sister in Uganda when she went to visit. The heels are from missguidedus.com and the necklace is from a New Orleans designer named Seth Damm, his company is called Neon Zinn. I’m all about supporting local designers and using my own pieces. I’ve been sewing since I was seven. All my sisters were always thinner than I am so they could basically wear anything; I would try to recreate their looks in my size.

What makes New Orleans so rich in fashion?

Well, for one, there are no fashion rules, you can wear literally whatever you want. If you wanna go out and wear a Yoda mask, you can, and no one would look at you differently. I’m originally from Maryland and when I would wear my crazy prints people would look at me sideways. When I came here and was walking down the street in my clothing, people were excited, they appreciated it. New Orleans is just so open to change and new people and diversity.

Where did you get your sense of style?

Culture. I’m Nigerian, so going to big Nigerian parties, everything would be custom made. My mom is very big on every outfit she wears being custom designed. Seeing that as a kid just really inspired me to dress how I’m dressing now. In Nigerian culture, we wear Ankara print for big events and my father is Nigerian so I have access to the fabric very easily.

How can designers use Ankara print without appropriating?

First, they need to give credit where it’s due. I’ve seen a couple of designers using Ankara print saying, “It’s a new thing.” No, it’s been going on for years. Also, I’ve noticed if they have Ankara print, they’re using Caucasian models. You would not see one black model in their shoot and that’s wrong. Have diversity in your models. Not just in color, but also in size.

What style advice do you have for plus-size women?

Create your own lane. If there’s something I like then I’m gonna wear it. Definitely just wear it and own it.

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BY SAMANTHA MERCADO

PHOTOGRAPHED BY WHITNEY MITCHELL

This article originally appeared in the June/July 2017 print edition of BUST Magazine. Subscribe today!

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