Goodbye Louis Vuitton: Devlin Carter’s ‘SIA’ Is Changing The Fashion Game And Inspiring Future Black Designers

Jan 11, 2020

Let’s rewind a few months back to August 2019. As a streetwear enthusiast/brand consultant and aspiring designer, I was having my own issues with the lack of representation of black designers and black-owned brands in the fashion industry. I took out my frustrations via a piece titled “No Blacks Allowed.” This piece drew some criticism from a few of my peers. While they agreed with many of the points made in the article, they also made it their business to make me aware of some up and comers in fashion that I should pay close attention to, one of which was Devlin Carter. I was sent a clip of Devlin’s Breakfast Club interview and told I needed to check it out ASAP. With the video came a note saying that Devlin is an extremely talented designer who owns a brick and mortar in our hometown of Oakland and that I would be impressed by his work and his mission.
And to be honest she was right.
The Breakfast Club interview did not disappoint. I watched for close to an hour as Devlin shared his upbringing on the streets of Brooklyn, New York, his days working as a sneaker customizer and stylist for hip-hop icons Lil Kim, Foxy Brown and DJ Clue to name a few, and his career as a member of the Coast Guard with Power 105. He also talked about working as a lead designer with Under Armour for a brief stint and most recently becoming an entrepreneur, running a black-owned independent fashion design house. Within that hour, Devlin’s breakfast club segment made me an instant fan not only of his work but how he is using his gift to build up communities.
Fast forward to January 4, 2020. Fast forward to January 4, 2020. 
Just last week, I was sitting in a warehouse in the design district in San Francisco at a secret location with close to 100 entrepreneurs, artists, designers, and creatives listening attentively to a panel with Devlin Carter and his peers. The first half of this event felt more like a church revival than an actual discussion on fashion and business, which each speaker emphasizing how faith guided them on their respective journeys. The panelist discussed in-depth the fashion business, the struggles of entrepreneurship, and how to build a community-based brand. I was witness to moving stories of passion, sacrifice, and perseverance that shook attendees during the discussion. Their tales of the pain and the struggle of chasing a dream no one sees but you were as real as it gets. Tears were shed not only by the audience but by the panelist as well, making this night that much more special.
As the Q&A portion of the event concluded and the DJ took over, signifying the end of the first half of the festivities, we were led to a chic art venue for a networking mixer with our fellow creatives, waiting eagerly for the fashion show to commence.
The DJ jammed while the drinks flowed freely and the crowd began to loosen up. We were encouraged to talk amongst ourselves and get to know one another, hand out business cards, exchange social media handles, and see how we could help each other.
Shortly after 11 pm, the show began. Devlin used his platform to showcase two female designers fairly new to the fashion scene—Rosario B and Gemelli Official—and debut their respective clothing lines. Devlin followed this up by introducing his SIA (Somewhere In America) collection during his first-ever fashion show. To say I was blown away is an understatement. Devlin is the definition of a true fashion designer and the attention to detail was impeccable. From the leather and suede embroidered ‘Culture Vulture’ varsity jackets (a term used to shed light on both Nike and Adidas stealing his design concepts) and distressed denim pieces mixed with camo and patriotic fabrics as a homage to his time he spent in the military to the multi colorway SIA run sneakers, a variety of pieces were featured. Not only did Devlin use his gifts to design for the ladies, but the fellas weren’t left out either, with accessories to compliment both lines.
To think that he was able to create all of these pieces by hand at home in his garage and put the entire show together within 2 months is incredible.
After the last model walked the runway, Devlin was brought back to the stage for a well-deserved standing ovation. The amount of love in the room brought him to tears. Devlin graciously thanked his wife for her support and everyone from the models to the bartenders and staff and even those in attendance for their participation in helping him bring his vision to life. Devlin invited all of us to stay for the after party and continue to celebrate and network while the DJ played the latest hits. Many of us stood impatiently, waiting for a chance to speak with the designer himself and thank him for sharing his gifts, as well as for creating a space for us to come together and connect.
As the venue began to clear out, quite a few of us stayed behind to take in all that we experienced. I must admit I was truly inspired. Just to witness the amount of hard work, discipline, dedication, stubbornness, and belief that it must take to pull off a feat such as this moved me. The fact that I could have been anywhere in the world at this particular time but for some reason God, the universe, law of attraction, whatever you choose to call it had me right there to embrace it all touched me the most. I’ve been lucky enough to be a part of other shows, spoke with other designers, but nothing in the last couple of years has felt as powerful as this moment. Devlin Carter’s dedication to his passion was shown effortlessly through not only the fashion that was presented but also how the event was curated. Not only did he combine a panel discussion with a fashion show, the work he presented rivals that of Virgil Abloh (Louis Vuitton) without question. The fact that this man is executing his designs without the backing of the most powerful fashion house in the world is a statement in itself.
“Just to witness the amount of hard work, discipline, dedication, stubbornness, and belief that it must take to pull off a feat such as this moved me.”
Devlin is one man with nothing but a vision, passion, and strong work ethic on a mission to show his community what black fashion designers and business owners are capable of creating, independent of corporations and industry politics. A company that not only embraces the culture but gives back to the communities that created it.
Devlin has come a long way from customizing sneakers on the streets of Brooklyn.
He is now Somewhere In America making his dreams come true one design at a time.

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  1. Devlin Carter

    Very well written article and I’m not just saying that because it’s about but honestly, very good job and I’m happy that you enjoyed the event. We wanted to do something different and bring a community of creatives together to bond and build!!

    • Bobby

      Thank you again Devlin for throwing such an amazing event. I am looking forward to seeing what you have in store for us with your rise of your SIA brand. May we cross paths in the future. Wishing you nothing but more blessings!


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