Kheris Rogers, an 11-year-old from Los Angeles, made fashion history on Sept. 10 when she became the youngest designer to show her collection during New York Fashion Week. She unveiled her spring 2018 line at the Museum of the City of New York.
Understandably, Rogers took to Twitter to celebrate her impressive coup.
The young designer is at the helm of a label called Flexin’ In My Complexion, which she showed during Harlem Front Row, an event that is billed as “the most prestigious platform for multicultural fashion designers.” The runway presentation featured Rogers and two other models of different skin tones wearing artfully altered and styled pieces from the Flexin’ In My Complexion collection.
But it’s maybe the story behind the origins of Flexin’ In My Complexion that’s most noteworthy: Rogers created the line in response to the bullying she received in her early years at school because of the colour of her skin.
“I’ve been bullied a lot, like in the first grade, I went to school with just four other black kids,” Rogers said to Mic. “And kids used to bully me because they weren’t used to my skin tone. There was an incident with a teacher and we had to draw ourselves, and she gave us a black crayon instead of a brown crayon, and I was really upset.”
Although she transferred to a more inclusive school, her sister, Taylor Pollard, told BuzzFeed that even there she was picked on for the colour of her skin.
WATCH BELOW: Fall fashion must haves
“A couple of girls at school would tease her about being skinny and about her skin tone, but it’s weird because it came from people who are black as well,” she said.
It wasn’t until Pollard posted a video of her sister participating in a local fashion show in March that Rogers was finally able to rise above her bullies and appreciate the colour of her skin. That’s when Flexin’ In My Complexion was born.
“She was obsessed with the comments,” Pollard said. “So many people’s comments gave her a positive outlook on her skin. It gave her reassurance.”
With the help of her older sister, Rogers then went to work creating a line of t-shirts that bear her signature phrase. The crew-neck t-shirts and tank tops are available in a range of colours and sizes, and there’s also a terry cloth baby bib.
“Kheris really thought she was the only one going through this, but now she realises that this is a global issue,” Pollard said. “That’s what pushed her, because she thought, ‘If I’m feeling this way, then we want to help others who are feeling bad about themselves too.’”
In addition to making waves at fashion week, Rogers has also garnered a budding celebrity following. Namely, Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong’o.
The future is undeniably bright for this young fashion prodigy.