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Sheila Rashid's Androgynous Approach To Unisex Clothing Is A Lesson In Embracing Individuality

The ItGirl 100 List, in partnership with Hyundai, is a celebration of 100 Black women who aren’t afraid to pull up their own seats to the table.

For Sheila Rashid, it all started with some free-hand drawings and a few strokes of paint.

The Chicago-based clothing designer and creative director of Sheila Rashid Brand recalls using her spare time in high school to hand paint designs on t-shirts and distressed hoodies, distributing them to classmates as walking billboards for her art.


Rashid sought to pursue fashion design at Columbia College in Chicago but eventually took the self-taught route to build upon her knack for crafting one-of-a-kind, androgynous pieces.

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Thanks to the mentorship of local designers taking her under their wings, Rashid was able to gain valuable experience in putting together collections and creating patterns; equipping her with them with the necessary skills to pursue her own collections.

After two years of living in New York, Rashid returned home to the Chi and uncovered the unique flair she could offer the city. “I moved to New York after that because I wanted to be in the fashion capital world,” she tells xoNecole. “That's when I really got a leg up. I found myself when I moved back to Chicago after moving to New York.”

For the Midwest native, inspiration comes from her time around creative peers and the city’s notorious winters — known to be a main character in many Chicagoans stories. “It's a different perspective and mindset when I'm making stuff because of the weather here,” she explains. “When we get summer, it’s ‘Summertime Chi’ — it's amazing. It's beautiful. Still, I find myself always making clothes that cater to the winter.”

"I moved to New York after that because I wanted to be in the fashion capital world. That's when I really got a leg up. I found myself when I moved back to Chicago after moving to New York.”

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Many designers have a signature aesthetic or theme in their creations. In Rashid’s design story, dancing between the lines of femininity and masculinity is how she’s been able to distinguish herself within the industry. Her androgynous clothing has garnered the eye of celebrities like Zendaya, Chance the Rapper, WNBA star Sydney Colson, and more — showing her range and approach to designs with inclusivity in mind.

“I think I do reflect my own style,” she says. “When I do make pieces, I'm very tomboyish, androgynous. My work is unisex because I feel like everybody can wear it. I cater to everybody and that's how I try to approach my clothes.” From denim to overalls, and color-drenched outerwear, Rashid has mastered the structure of statement pieces that tell a story.

“Each collection, I never know what's going to be the thing I'm going to focus on. I try to reflect my own style and have fun with the storytelling,” she shares. “I look at it more like it's my art in this small way of expressing myself, so it's not that calculated.”

"My work is unisex because I feel like everybody can wear it. I cater to everybody and that's how I try to approach my clothes."
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Still, if you were able to add up all the moments within Rashid’s 20-year career in design, one theme that has multiplied her into becoming an “ItGirl” is her confidence to take up space within the fashion industry as a queer, Black woman. “Being an ItGirl is about being yourself, loving what you do, finding your niche, and mastering that,” she says.

No matter where you are on your ItGirl journey, Rashid says to always remain persistent and never hesitate to share your art with the world. “Don’t give up. Even if it's something small, finish it and don't be afraid to put it out,” she says, “It's about tackling your own fear of feeling like you have to please everybody, but just please yourself, and that's good enough.”

To learn more about the ItGirl 100 List, view the full list here.

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