Meet Dianne, Imani and Sonia
By DJALI BROWN-CEPEDA Photography RUBY ROSE
What's so fly about butterflies?
Dianne: I got inspired by the vintage brand from the 2000's called b-fly. I always buy their cute stuff when ever I come across it. SoFlyButterfly is inspired by 90's & 00's based music videos, movies, tv shows and just the fashion of that time. It isn't like Forever 21 or H&M—it’s original. They’re all one of kind pieces.
How would you describe your line in a six-word sentence?
Imani: We make shit we wanna wear.
When did the concept of So Fly Butterfly arise?
Sonia: We first got into it from being able to have access to materials that we otherwise couldn't afford (from hoarding New School fashion students to accessing Materials For The Arts). The name itself came after we started making clothes together.
Imani: All three of us take a personal and hands-on approach to style day to day, opening a store has been a goal of mine for a long time. It felt really natural and intuitive.
From what I've seen, pastels and bold colors dominate in your collection.
Sonia: I think that there's a lot of black/grey/white clothing out there in the world. Personally, I like wearing a lot of black clothes because of the goth look. A lot of the clothes we have been making have somehow been similar tones and hues, all really vibrant. I just feel an immediate attraction to these kinds of colors, because you rarely get to see them unless you're somewhere specific.
Imani: I'm sorta turned off by the word pastels, it's more about color in general and just styling SfBf looks with the materials we have.
Scrolling through So Fly’s Instagram, one can find pink and green medical masks. Can you talk to me about its significance?
Sonia: I started creating masks for SoFly because I was inspired by the Korean "양아치" look. It basically means Korean gangster, but it has a Westernized connotation to it. As my friend Dulcina would say, “It's the Korean Chola look.” When I went back to see my family in Korea, that's what my family would call me, because of my hair color and my tattoos. I really don't consider myself a gangster, but in a conservative Korean society, people definitely view me that way.
I guess it's to take ownership of that look that I've been categorized as and also the fact that I can never fit in into a society that my parents came from, because of the fact that I've grown up outside of Korea. But people in America, especially white Americans, are idiots and have called me a lot of racial slurs whenever I'd wear a mask in public. In Korea, it's etiquette to wear a mask outside when you're sick but still have to grind and go to work or school. In America, because of Islamophobia and racism due to Middle-Eastern American colonization, people assume a lot of ignorant things. I've had drunk white men yell at me saying, "SARS!" and say stuff like, "This Asian girl is wearing a mask to protect herself from a Chinese disease!" What idiots. SoFly is going to change that. It's a movement. Wear a mask and look cute, it's not about SARS or whatever else racist bullshit you've consumed.
If you're feeling sick but still want to look cute, wear our masks and fight drunk people who come out of their closeted racism.
What purpose does So Fly Butterfly serve in a world of other brands?
Dianne: SoFlyButterfly gives everyone a chance to shine, how the trendy internet/club kids shine. Not everyone feels confident to wear the clothes I'm into but it makes me really sad to know that there are people out there who want to find these cute gems and want to serve a look but they just can't find these rare pieces or sometimes someone doesn't even have the confidence to rock a rare look. I want to give people of all sizes, races, ethnicities, genders and non identifying genders a chance to express themselves through fashion.
Sonia: We take custom orders, so if you want something from our store that isn't your size, just send us a message and we'll make you a custom look that fits your body We want everyone to feel comfortable and look So Flyyy!
Imani: Using recycled, donated, and found materials is a huge part of our practice. This is mostly due to necessity, but it is aligned with our values and aesthetics.
What about designing provides more of a creative outlet for you then other media?
Sonia: I think making clothes is special because you get to wear it and show it off to everyone else on the day that you wear it. You really have to consider the body, your body, bodies that are different from you, and that's where the challenge lies. I want to make people feel special through the clothes we create, like a transformative experience. I think that's what's so symbolic about the butterfly, the process of transformation.
Imani: This is just part of my artistic practice. Since we’re all multimedia artists, this is just the project we're working on right now. I'm also a painter, photography, filmmaker, sculptor, etc. But, I love the constant problem solving of making clothes, trying to figure out how materials can work together with the body is fun. I just think art is art is art, I think of clothing design as a way of painting and sculpture but with wearable materials. That's why our products are usually one of a kind, each piece is another creation, an experiment that informs the next piece, and so on.
In most of your product shots, you guys (and friends) are unapologetically you, sporting crop tops and see-through material, all against pink and blue backdrops. As a brand, and as a people, it seems like you're combating the patriarchal society we live in.
Sonia: [Laughs], are we? It's kind of silly because just having women & GNC people of color do anything somehow becomes that. I just thought we were making cute clothes because we love to! The people we choose to model for us are generally close, non cis-men friends. The clothes we have been making has been super femme, and that's its own can of worms in terms of visibility, safety, and harassment, which sucks because it's part of the society we live in.
I just personally love making clothes like that, and if people try and fight you or harass you for it, just punch them and protect yourself. Carry a knife. Maybe we should embed some protective magic in them now that I think about it. We should also start selling pocket knives. We each have our politics and it's inevitable that it shows in the clothes we produce, how we edit our photos, who we choose as models.
Imani: We're fighting the white supremacist patriarchy just by existing! So it logically would manifest in our art as well. When we location scouted for shoots, we came across a wall with prints of Sandra Bland. We decided to shoot in front of it because she's part of us. She represents the reasons that our clothing is considered feminist: none of us are ever safe, so we may as well work together to do whatever we want. Sometimes that means wearing see-thru, sparkly clothes. :)
Where can we buy your clothes?