Kheris Rogers, Designer and Activist: A Conversation
In 2018, the singer and songwriter Alicia Keys posted a picture on her Instagram. It was Kheris Rogers, then 10 years old, with a caption expressing appreciation for her anti colorism advocacy. Rogers’ mission started after facing bullying at her school for her skin color. But the negative experience led way to something that would transform her life, making her an activist, designer and model.
Could you give us some background on how you entered the public sphere?
I launched Flexin’ in Her Complexion in 2018 because I started going viral on Twitter for my pictures. My sister would post me and the hashtags would be #Flexin’InHerComplexion. Then, everyone started telling me they loved my skin color. So, I created a clothing line called Flexin’ in My Complexion. So it could be for everyone and everyone could love themselves. It was really an accident and happened in a matter of a few days.
Have you been interested in working in the fashion industry since a young age?
Growing up, I’ve always loved fashion and loved expressing myself through my style. I wanted to be a model or a big superstar. [Before], I just never made the time for it.
In 2020, you debuted a collection in New York Fashion Week. How did that come to be?
Some people reached out and told me they wanted me to do NYFW. It was a shock to me and I was in awe at the moment. It was a great experience and I would definitely do it again.
What was the inspiration behind the pieces on the runway?
It was very casual, everyday wear. You could dress it up or dress it down. It was to show people that just because it’s a regular t-shirt or regular hoodie doesn’t mean you couldn’t dress it up.
What did that experience teach you about the fashion industry?
Something I learned is that when you’re young and especially when you’re a Black woman, people are going to look at you differently. They might think your ideas don’t matter. I learned to use my voice and speak up.
What experiences have you had that made you realize how unequal the industry can be?
I’ve definitely had experiences with that and especially being a teenager. Some people would say, “she’s just doing it right now, because she likes doing it right now.” But when you have a passion for something and you’re committed, why not keep doing it? None of these people will stop me. Because what they’re doing at 50, I’m doing at 16.
How important is diversity or representation and how far do you think the industry has come?
I think representation is very important. I grew up not always seeing girls like me in the industry. A young Black child might say they want to be a model but if they don’t see people similar, will they want to model anymore? Representation is important in any aspect of any industry.
What piece of advice has resonated with you and helped you in your career?
This might be cliche but don’t give up. No matter how many times you fail or go through ups and downs, there are just ways God is teaching you lessons. You cannot give up on yourself and keep thriving no matter what.
Featured image via https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NiaapSVvkTs