Fashion design student, Chayiah Chambers ’23 launched her clothing brand called “BLACCHAI” in 2021, focusing on raising awareness of fashion and sustainability among plus size women.
Initially, Chambers struggled to find a print for his collection. The sudden inspiration came after drawing large figures during class, which she then decided to use for her collage print. The print was so popular that when her friends saw it, they wanted it on their clothes.
From there, Chambers tested the print on various garments such as jeans, sweatshirts and beanies. On all of these pieces, the print created a statement of resilience regarding tall women. It eventually became the foundation of her brand: “Sexy is not a Shape, It’s an Attitude.”
As a plus-size woman herself, Chambers said, “Society often dismisses the category of plus-size women and thinks we’re not sexy or attractive. Many brands and retail stores do not carry the same designs in the plus size category as those offered in the smaller size categories and if they do, the design is often manipulated and does not have the same appeal.
With her brand, Chambers strives to normalize the plus size category and show how a person’s attractiveness is not defined by their body type or shape, but by their confidence.
In addition to the uplifting message, her brand is highly sustainable as she uses used and thrifty clothing on which she carefully hand paints her signature print. “Thrifting has allowed my line to become very affordable and allows me to customize each print like an original piece,” Chambers said.
Currently, she sells her clothing line on Instagram and her website. BLACCHAI.com. She also ran a pop-up store in Harlem, New York, during winter break.
Additionally, Chambers’ signature print handbag was featured in an auction for Unshattered’s 5th Anniversary Benefit, a nonprofit organization that seeks to improve the lives of women who have suffered from addiction and trauma. This opportunity allowed him to reach a wider audience and raise awareness of his brand through a charitable cause.
Throughout her journey in fashion so far, professor of merchandising and fashion design Sonia Roy has been someone who has kept her going. “She really helped me get comfortable with my idea in the textile design class and also allowed me to bring supplies home to work for my pop-up shop.”
Chambers plans to continue his lineage throughout his college career and into the future. She plans to use her signature print as part of her CFDA awards project this semester, which is a highly competitive arena for fashion students across the United States. From there, she seeks to raise awareness for plus size women on a larger scale and hopes to see changes in major industries. Additionally, Chambers plans to collaborate with Marist Mporium and launch a brand new collection. After graduating, she saw her current line evolve into a combination of activewear and streetwear, reflecting both her brand’s sexy attitude and comfort.