Thursday, June 30, 2011


Bouquet Brooch circa 1937
 by Van Cleef & Arpels
Today, once my shift at the plantation was over, I found myself sitting inside the AT&T Device Support Center on 42nd street over an hour as Lauren assisted me.  After tinkering with my smart phone (it's not so smart after all), she announced that I was going to need a replacement.  This is my fourth replacement since I switched over to smart phone use in December.   Although it has been at no additional cost to me, I am still way over the inconvenience.  Afterwards, I rushed to the garment district where I proceeded to spend my paycheck on fabric for the collection.  Just caressing the yardage of silk shantung soothed me after my phone ordeal.

This week has been so jam-packed with fashion and its realities, I am really looking forward to just taking it easy this holiday.  But that doesn't mean boring!  I have plans to finally check out the Van Cleef & Arpels exhibit at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum before it closes on Independence Day.  And I am going to catch at least one blockbuster movie at my local multiplex - hopefully something in 3-D.  YAY!  Although I have not been invited to any barbecues, I'm looking to crash one or two.  So if you hear of any, just holla.

Whatever your plans - make it safe and fun!  Happy Fourth!

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Running The Reality Race

I can see the finish line!  This morning I received an email from the casting company assigned to the reality show I just auditioned for.  Apparently, the casting director "thought I was great and would like to move me forward to the next phase of the casting process."  YAY!  The next phase means a very invasive background check.  I liken it to a rectal exam.  Ewww!  So my very sad and bleak credit report will come under scrutiny like I am trying to buy a house.  And I am so not ready for that.  But I am ready to take my fashion game to the next level.  So if I must expose some of my credit indiscretions to get my clothing onto the racks of a major retailer, then I am down for it.

Today I had to meet with a professional.  Since Sunday, Ashanti has been trying in vain to transfer the video we shot Saturday evening onto a DVD.  Worried that my opportunity to get on All On The Line would soon go up in smoke, I contacted a videographer acquaintance who was able to burn 2 DVDs for me.  Wheww!  I then rushed to my nearest UPS store where I expedited the raw footage to the west coast based producer.  Disaster averted. . . hopefully.

The marathon continues.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Reality Check

Joe Zee - host, ALL ON THE LINE 
A couple of weeks ago I received an email from my stylist friend Steffany Allen about an awesome opportunity.  Joe Zee, the fashion personality and creative director of Elle magazine, tweeted that the producers of his reality show, All On The Line, were searching for the next batch of "veteran" fashion designers to participate on the show's upcoming season.  Only a month earlier, Ingrid, my co-worker at the plantation, mentioned All On The Line was something I should check out.  When two or more people make the same suggestion, I believe that the universe is speaking to me.  And I need to listen.

If chosen, I would present my collection to buyers of a reputable store and it would, in all likelihood, be picked up by that store.  With a wave of Joe Zee's magic wand, my line would be refreshed, relevant, and ready for retail.  Now with a distribution channel for my label, curvy women would finally have a way to purchase my designs.  That idea really appealed to me.  So I sent an email post haste.  Here is what I wrote:

 Good Evening,

My name is Wilbur. I am an emerging designer based in New York City. I've been working at it for 13 years and last year I launched a line of dresses for full-figured women size 14 to 20. But it has not been an easy road. And I am still trying to get into retail stores. I need Mr. Zee's help. I think he may have the answers to get me over the proverbial hump. Please check out my website at and my company's facebook presence at I'm drowning in designer disappointment!

Peace & Fashion!

The response from the casting people was swift and immediate.  I received a questionnaire to fill out.  Once completed, I sent it back as quickly as I could.  I then received an email from one of the producers who wanted to have a phone conversation.  Long distance from the west coast we bonded.  He said he loved my story, but he needed me to shoot a casting video to present to the network.  "Can you get it to me by the beginning of next week?" he beseeched.  My heart sank.  I would be spending a relaxing weekend in Washington D.C. with my honey.  "That's impossible, but I can get it to you early the following week," I responded trying to disguise my disappointment.  Reluctantly, he allowed me a one week reprieve.

This weekend past, my business partners and I gathered at Ashanti's apartment and videotaped a conversation with Steffany and the founder of Full-Figured Fashion Week, Gwen DeVoe, as we touched on all the bullet points of my almost 13 year history in the fashion industry and why being on the show is important to me.  Unfortunately, we hit a snag trying to download the video, but it will be overnighted to California tomorrow.  Now I need to play the wait and see game.  But I am taking it all in stride.

Today I was called for another reality series.  I had originally met this group of casting people last year, so imagine my surprise when I got the call from Ashanti saying they wanted to see me again.  Apparently, it's for a show that will be airing on the Lifetime network.  I showed them a couple of my dresses and I was interviewed by the woman from casting who was off-camera.  Armed with only my sparkling personality, I tried to endear myself to the ladies assembled.  Again, I've gotta watch and see what happens.  But if the old adage is true, "When it rains, it pours", then I am deluged in reality.  And I don't mind getting a little wet.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Papa's Got A Brand New Bag

Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman

I never really know where the wind is going to take me.  My business partners and I have revised our business plan on a number of occasions to reflect each new course we've taken.   As a small business owner, flexibility is essential.  My belief is when you're on a path that is not getting the results you want, it's time to change direction.   I've designed every kind of women's fashion you can imagine because I am looking for that place in the industry where I am most fulfilled both creatively and monetarily.

Last year when I launched my collection for plus size women, I decided to create my own handbags to accessorize my dresses.  I had no intention of ever selling the bags.  I was just trying to create a head-to-toe look that told the story of my imaginary muse who had traveled the world.  But I got such an overwhelming response from women asking about the bags that I've decided to pursue getting them into retail outlets.  They will, in all likelihood, sell for less than the dresses retailing at $95 to $250.  The styles have fun names like "Shop 'Til You Drop It Like It's Hot" and "Strong Enough For A Man, But Made For A Woman".  And I think they will appeal to women from age 18 to 80.  It's been gratifying sewing these bags myself.  I just hope that retailers far and wide will be taken with my fun, tongue-in-chic aesthetic.

Peace & Fashion!

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Tick Tock

Time flies by so quickly.  Tomorrow I will be attending my goddaughter's graduation from fifth grade.  My bestie and I are celebrating 30 years of friendship later this year.  And this July 29th marks my official thirteenth year as owner of Sorta Kinda Enterprises.

I remember when I walked to the courthouse in downtown Brooklyn on that hot summer day so many years ago and filed my sole proprietorship papers.  It was not a sense of accomplishment that I felt, but it was just one of those things that one must do to classify your endeavor as a business.  Little did I know that it would be my first giant step in my evolution as a business owner and an independent fashion designer.

Some of you know it has not been an easy road and my net worth might even be less than what is was before I started on this fashion odyssey.  But it continues to be a trek that is free of second thoughts.  The simple truth is that I love what I do.  My fashion business has provided me with a sense of purpose.   From the moment I sketch a design to the time that it is made into an actual garment, I am giddy.  Ebullient.  Happy.  I don't know what I would do if I could not create fashion.  Lucky for me I don't have to entertain the thought.  Never mind Father Time as long as I have Lady Fashion to keep me company.

Peace & Fashion!

Friday, June 17, 2011

White Is Right!

Ashanti & DeeDee

Wilbur with Sharon Quinn
Ashanti and DeeDee
Last night I had a date with about five hundred bodacious curvy women!  It was the opening night event for Full-Figured Fashion Week 2011 and we were all clad in white as we boarded the party yacht in Manhattan on 23rd street and FDR drive.  Celebration was the order of business for these goddesses as we threw back cocktails and danced and greeted each other with squeals and hugs.  The event founder, Gwen Devoe, gave a speech where she spoke of how she was inspired to create the 4-day long event after she attended her first NY Fashion Week show and there was no one there whom she, as a plus size woman, could identify with.  It was all quite fabulous.  But most fabulous were my sister, Ashanti, and my model friend, Dee Dee, who rocked SK WiLBUR.  Since seeing is believing, I'm just gonna let the photos speak for themselves.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

It's A Curvy Girl's World. . .this week

On this Sunday past, The NY Daily News published an article on the phenomenon that is Full-Figured Fashion Week.  (You can check out the story by clicking on the accompanying link -  It seems that for a few days, at least, the playing field for women of all sizes is level.  I've created fashions for the young contemporary woman, working women, and women of a certain age.  In the end, all women really want is to look good and feel like they matter.

Full-Figured Models wearing SK WiLBUR

I remember last year when my business partners and I launched the collection of dresses for the plus size woman.  My public relations friend, Simona Georgescu, contacted a fashion blogger who refused to attend.  Making no bones about her opinion she stated,  "Fat girls are gross and there is no such thing as plus-size fashion."  When the exchange was relayed to me, all I could do was shake my head and call her "a HOT mess".

I do believe that there is a point where carrying around too much weight can be unhealthy. But being too skinny is not good for you either.  And subjecting one's body to the stress of diet fads is just as bad.  We all should celebrate the woman who is a size 4 as well as the woman who is a size 14.  Because that is what makes us uniquely beautiful.

Peace & Fashion!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It's Hot & I'm Tired. Period.

SK WiLBUR handbags from Fall 2010
I am not gonna complain about the last couple of days where the temperature has risen above 90 degrees. I'm one of those people who HATES winter.  Yeah, I said it.  Although I am a native New Yorker, the cold weather and long stretches of darkness put a damper on my spirit.  Not to mention the backaches I endure from shoveling snow.  So, for me, summer is the lesser of two evils.

You may ask yourself, "What has any of this got to do with blackfashiondude's odyssey?"  Absolutely nothing.  But I'd just like to mention that I've been suffering in my not-so-cool basement slaving over my mother's old Singer while sewing up handbags for my forthcoming collection.  But this is my cross to bear.  I am not trying to do the "Woe is me" thing right now.  I am simply making a statement.  It's hot.  My bags are looking fabulous.  It's time for me to sign off.  Well, that's actually 3 statements.  But we're not going to argue over semantics.  I'm escaping to air conditioned bliss one floor up.

Peace & Fashion!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

I'm Working On It

Ashanti wears SK WiLBUR @ FFF Week 2010 

Next week is Full-Figured Fashion Week.  Jam packed with seminars, panel discussions, and fashion initiatives designed to empower the curvy community, the festivities begin on Thursday and end on Saturday.  This will be the second year attending with my sister, Ashanti, who is also my company's Communications Director.  We have tickets for opening night where we will be sailing around New York City on a sunset cruise for an all white party.  Nice!  I am not sure what I will be wearing, but I have created a special look for my sister that I am sure will knock the socks off the crowd of curvy fashionistas.

Full-Figured Fashion Week is a huge opportunity for me to network with women who have come from near and far who may not be familiar with my fabulous design aesthetic.  After all, not all the action is happening on the catwalk.  I am really looking forward to getting acquainted with many of the ladies who come with high spirits and wide smiles ready to be encouraged and validated.  Although I will not be able to attend the finale runway event on Saturday evening, Ashanti will be there decked out in SK WiLBUR, of course, to represent.  She has strict orders to mingle and network as much as possible.  Once the ladies see her ensemble, I am sure they will have plenty of questions.  We did a preliminary fitting last night and all I can say is that she will look FIERCE.  I still cannot divulge any photos, but the day of reckoning is soon upon us.  Just wait. . .

Peace & Fashion!