bipoc creatives: enya hennings
enya hennings founded the collective armscye, a group of BIPOC creatives with the goal of reorienting people with the value of their clothing.
what is armscye?
armscye is a secondhand project that aims to reorient people with the value of their clothing. the current fashion paradigm is one in which clothing is both valuable and valueless--we shop, we wear, we post, we consume, and we discard. we seek new value at the expense of designating our current closet as discardable. and while the social interest in clothing and what we wear rises, the long-term utility of our garments declines.
armscye exists to challenge how we--as a collective--think about fashion. we believe clothing holds the stories of the lives we live; every strand or rip is a piece of evidence of how we move through the world. clothing is an artifact of our existence, objects that live life alongside us. we view wearers as caretakers, not consumers, and clothing as a lifelong companion. armscye is a place where well-loved, well-made pieces circulate amongst people who care for their clothing.
what inspired you to start armscye?
i grew up in my grandma’s apartment; my dad worked two jobs, 17-hour days, so she and i would spend all our time together. when i’d run through her closet as a kid, i’d brush up against all her clothes lined in dry-cleaning plastic, rows of “we love our customer” wire hangers stuck out from the top. when she’d run out of plastic, she’d wrap her clothing in big sheets she got from working at the hospital, and pin them to the top of the hanger with safety pins.
my grandma was on food stamps, and most of the clothing she had was either hand-me-down or things that were made for her by friends. but she treated each piece with such reverence… each trouser pressed with a crease and perfectly draped in her closet.
it stuck in my mind, the way she preserved her clothing...who was she doing it for? for her children to have one day? for herself? or is that the nature of survival with blackness, our relationship to our items is guided by the idea of preservation? we never had a choice but to ensure our things lasted, to make sure our clothing could be handed down. i wanted to build a project that brings us closer to the way my grandma sees her clothing – with the reverence that clothing deserves.
i created armscye as an outlet to question our relationship with garments. the project exists to have an ever-evolving conversation about clothing. what life did your garment live before meeting you? what life are they living with you now? presently, armscye is a second-hand store on instagram and depop, but our goal is to evolve the project into experimental clothing-related events and pop-ups in the near future.
what kind of ethics do you believe in following when it comes to your closet?
i'm religious about only buying pieces i want to wear for the rest of my life. most of my closet is second-hand or pieces from my grandma. for new items, i’m lucky because thom browne gives me a clothing allowance, so i don’t really feel the need to buy anything new too often.
i think the biggest thing i focus on is the materiality of clothing. it's important to check what materials are used in the garments you purchase because that will be the true determinant of longevity. you'd be surprised how many brands are using cheap materials for luxury items - even brands like margiela will sell you a ring in silver-toned brass.
what meaning do clothes have for you?
clothing was my first salvation. i grew up in an extremely rural town in ohio and went to catholic school. the upper-class white students tortured me for being biracial and working class, so i learned quickly that i was not and, could never be, the same as everyone else. so, i decided to lean into it. i began buying wild clothes and wearing them to my high school on dress-down days (we had a uniform). i knew that even if i was the only "halfrican", "oreo" or insert one of the other myriad of insults i'd receive on a daily basis, no one could take how i dressed away from me. it's like that mcqueen quote, about fashion being daily armor.
that, paired with my grandma's love of her clothing, taught me a new way of understanding myself. i didn't have to be like everybody else, (which sounds cliche to a new york audience, but was a very radical idea in a 60,000 person republican town) --i could be something new, something that challenged the people around me, something more vibrant than conformity demanded. clothing represents my best memories. my grandma's sweaters still wrap me in warm memories of walking to her house after school…the solace of a loving meal and falling asleep to wheel of fortune.
what in current fashion is exciting for you?
femke devries. i started my career in trend forecasting so have always been interested in fashion theory, and fashion in a broader cultural context. femke's writings examine the industrial and commercial workings of fashion. i highly recommend her essay "self – help – shirts: a lexicon for an economy of emotions"
model: @ludwighurtado @anziedasabe
set design: @ssstufff @margueritekrommes @trecrews
set assistants: @wilskung @blab_le_bla @nick.lo @colourplacename @tay.nem