Fashion Apparel with a Social Conscious
By Jean Cunningham
The Ready Generation designs apparel collections made with statements that draws out both fashion and accountability to who you are. All their products include powerful statements inspired by recent social injustice events. The statements are guided by interviews with youth and adults concerning injustice. Destiny Wesley and her team of two other women, one from Liberia and another from India, develop the messages for their products.
As a leader of youth, Destiny has had to challenge herself to be involved despite the pain of social injustice she feels personally. The messages are the crucial aspect of the products. These messages are created from conversations with people of all races and roles (e. g. teacher, student, billionaire, etc.) to inclusively describe how all people from different cultures can be difference makers in opposing injustice. The statements are meant to be timeless and cause the onlooker to reflect and see themselves “in the mirror”. As one piece in the collection declares, “I am part of the mighty flood for justice.”
Destiny sketches and draws a variety of styles for shirts, hoodies, and related apparel. Some will be manufactured, and others collated to create specific themes for the fashion shows. New color schemes are often inspired by the sky. She tries to aggregate what she perceives all around her to create designs with colors that support the messages.
The beginning of the design process is to create a statement and color palette based on who the product is meant for. She says, “I plan the collections based off what I believe our audience needs to be accountable and affirmed in due to at some point being ruled out in that area of their life.”
(Models at the The Ready Generation's Fashion Show hosted at Evanston Art Center, June 2021. The fashion show and short documentary film created at the event were made possible by grants from Evanston Made, the Evanston Arts Council and the Illinois Arts Council.)
Photos by Amreen & Anush Ahmed
After the collection is designed, orders are sent for manufacture. The Ready Generation utilizes manufacturing capability in the US to bring the products to market.
A plan to market and sell the products is developed. The market images are from numerous photo shoots including youth, families at home, dancers, skaters, and more. The images attempt to portray images of what our society is going through currently. For instance, one image is of a skater pivoting since we are all having to pivot to rapid social changes.
When the finished products are received, The Ready Generation is thankful to have an intern who assists with order fulfillment.
Destiny and her team are members of Evanston Made, where the support for them has been tremendous. Director Lisa Degliantoni is a bridge to resources, introductions, sales and resources for their efforts in this community-oriented organization. Destiny hopes to be a bridge with Evanston Made between youth and young adults as they strive to realize their artistic visions.
To buy products from The Ready Generation, visit thereadygeneration.org.
Jean Cunningham is retired after a career in business management and finance. She has written three books and authored many articles in her field, was a speaker at conferences, and taught at the university level. While traveling for business she began painting and drawing for relaxation and collecting art. She and her husband have lived in Evanston for 11 years and are avid walkers of the town and lakeside. She has a BS from Indiana University and an MBA from Northeastern University.