Hailing all the way from Boston, Shayna Ariel of darkm0th industry, will present for the first time at Denver Fashion Week Fall ’18 presented by Mile High Luxury Real Estate. Since moving to Denver, she initially set out to pursue music however, the path changed and she rediscovered her passion for design. What makes her stand out is her brand’s philosophy of nonconformity and unisex silhouettes. The non-discriminatory message behind her brand and her deep empathy for those around her is seen through her designs. You can see her latest collection next week on Thursday, November 8 for our streetwear night. We got the chance to ask her about her background as a designer and a deeper look into her most recent project, darkm0th industry.
303 Magazine: Not only are you new to DFW, you’re also new to Denver. How has your experience been as a designer here and your experience so far in the Denver fashion community?
Shayna Ariel: I have been in Colorado just about two years now, and I have been living in Denver since April. Moving to the midwest from Boston and also having lived in many big cities such as New York and LA, I really didn’t plan on having any sort of fashion community here, or a huge runway show for that matter. Nor did I didn’t even seek out a fashion community here or intend to. Originally I moved here with my partner to finish an album together, myself on vocals. Once here, I found out about DFW and attended last season every show. I have met so many amazing people, so many individuals with the passion for creativity through fashion and expression in general. Seeing this amazing community here really rekindled my love for design, so I really have the fashion community to thank for seeing something in my work, which then pushed me to want to create more and more, essentially leading me to this collection I will be presenting this season!
303: Can you describe your creative journey in developing darkm0th industry to what it is today?
SA: Darkm0th industry is quite a new little brain-child of mine, only around a year old. Darkm0th industry really started off as designing clothing for myself, for both financial and aesthetic reasons. I was not finding what I needed out there in the world, and if I was, it was super expensive and above my pay grade. So, I started making my own outfits this past year, realizing I had very specific ideas in mind, and seeing that other people had a lot of really positive feedback for the designs as well. I then started dressing my partner, my friends, my family and it sort of extended out from there! I realized there was a need for clothing that truly anyone could wear if they dug the aesthetic, so I kept it going!
303: Where would you like to see darkm0th industry in five years?
SA: In five years from now, I hope to have good connections with fabric retailers/wholesalers that I have established a good relationship with, and that I know exactly where and how and who is creating the textiles I love so dearly. Right now it is very hard to source fabrics that I can put a 110% guaranty that the fabric is being created in a sustainable way, environmentally conscious, as well as sourced somewhere where I can assure the employees and workers and being treated fairly. And when I do find these sorts of fabrics, they are in small quantities, not always readily available, and very expensive. I’m such a fabric nerd, and I see myself working closely with textile makers one day, or even hoping to source my own fabrics in a more direct manner. I would like to ensure the quality and care going into all of my garments are always going to have the same quality and care. That’s my biggest hurdle, as well as funding some bigger and better equipment for myself, and possibly hiring some help! I was so lucky and thankful this year, as Colorado Fabrics teamed up with 303 Magazine and Denver Fashion Week and graciously donated a lot of fabric to myself and the other designers, which really allowed me to have more design freedom for this collection — so thank you! In five years I also will have a fully functioning shop on my website darkm0thindustry.com with garments and accessories for sale that will be ready-to-wear versions of the art I wish to show to you on the runway! I hope I can continue to show seasonal collections both on the DFW runway, and other runways around the world in the next five years. I hope to create a monthly fashion event here in Denver, working closely with my friends across all boards. Encompassing business, music, fashion, painting, visuals and technology-based arts, all combined for an immersive monthly or so event/experience open to the public, which would showcase the amazing local artists and widen the range of creative opportunities for people here in Denver.
303: Your brand emphasizes on unisex pieces while encouraging gender fluidity, what inspired you to create an inclusive and versatile brand?
SA: As aforementioned, darkm0th industry was born out of my own desire to dress the way I felt I wanted to in my mind. As a performer both singer, dancer and fire performer, I have worn (literally) many hats. I have had to dress the part, act the part, and shapeshift becoming lots of characters and fitting into lots of different roles. At the end of the day, when the hats come off, I wanted my clothing to not speak for me. I wanted an aesthetic that left viewers questioning in a way. What do they do? Who are they? What do they create? Where are they going? I wanted garments that many different people could wear and a style many different people could embody and make their own. Personally, I connect with both the feminine and the masculine. I like to blur these lines for myself, maybe not even intentionally, but I have always felt uncomfortable about the seriousness and binary nature of the fashion industry. I was left feeling like I could not express myself in a way that made me just feel like “Shayna,” and not Shayna the performer, the singer, the hippy, the slut, the girl, the goth, the dancer, the party girl, the homebody or whatever the heck my mood was in that moment of getting dressed. I wanted to be able to put something on, and feel comfortable that SHAYNA would be heard, allowing my mind and my conversations to be what people got information from, looking past the thread and the cloth that hangs on my body, cloaking me in something that made me feel confident, powerful, and secure. I desired this for others as well and saw a need for it especially with my non-binary and trans friends that maybe did not want to put themselves in some box that someone else created for them years ago. An idea constructed out of deconstructionism in philosophy, an idea of creating simply to create with no predisposed design notions, not constructing something based on prior shapes or design ideals and norms. A t-shirt is a t-shirt is a t-shirt and will always be a t-shirt, but why? How else can we cover that portion of our body and why is it still a t-shirt? Why women’s and men’s cuts? Why not something amazing for anyone? Again, if you like the aesthetic, you should be able to rock it. No matter who you are or what you identify as I hope you can find something that works for you and makes you feel like yourself. I guess that is my goal with darkm0th industry.
“I hope someone loves it. I hope someone hates it. I think you will be surprised.”
303: Where did the name “darkm0th industry” come from?
SA: For years, I have been performing with fire under the name Shayna Moonshadow. I have always loved the play of dark and light. I was fascinated by the idea of a literal moon shadow, or being in the shadow of the illuminated moon. The moon is only illuminated at the night because of the suns light reflecting and bouncing so beautifully. So to have a moon’s shadow, or to be in the shadow of the moon, you are really also in the shadow of the sun’s light. Light once removed, found again, and really never gone to begin with, just hiding until we see it again. The play on that, dark versus light and good versus evil, I think is so important and interesting, especially with the state in which the world is today and all the chaos going on. I think If people tried to be more empathic toward certain darknesses, and really try to understand where the darkness or evil comes from, I think people may feel a little more sympathetic towards their fellow humans. Like the classic moth to a flame, I seek out the darkness to help illuminate the parts of the world that may be deemed ugly, less than, fragile, etc. If we seek to understand the darkness in ourselves, in others and in the world around us, maybe we will all be illuminated one day together.
303: What are you most excited about for this year’s DFW season?
SA: Oh my goodness, there is so much to be excited for this DFW season! I am most excited to see all 15 of my models in my garments. I have never seen more than maybe three or four people wearing my outfits at a time together, so I can’t promise I won’t cry! I have both season veteran models and I also have some brand new models who are amazing, and it is so cool we get to experience our very first runway show together, as well as get the amazing experience and expertise from my seasoned runway walkers. The combination is really interesting and I have learned so much. Also, I’m so grateful that my mom and dad, and two little sisters will be flying in from Maryland to see the show, as well a friend flying in form New York to help me backstage! I am beyond excited to see all of the other designers’ shows. I know we’ve all been working so hard and to see everyone’s creations in real life is probably the most exciting thing. We’re all in for a real treat for sure!
303: What can attendees look forward to in your latest collection?
SA: Attendees can look forward to seeing something they may not expect out of a Denver, Colorado runway show. I think the same goes for the other designers involved. I hope to create a true runway show, not just clothes simply being shown on a runway format. My models are anything but a garment hanger. Each one of my models bring something totally unique and individually beautiful with their own amazing personalities and ferocity. I think it will be a really fun show to watch and maybe a bit weird. I hope audience members will see some unique shapes and structures that they have not seen before. I hope the audience will find the music empowering and even alarming. I hope questions are posed, thoughts are had and lines of reality and fantasy are blurred. I hope someone loves it. I hope someone hates it. I think you will be surprised.
Styled by Ernesto Prada
All photography by Danielle Webster, unless noted otherwise.