Editor’s note: The pages of traditional “menswear” magazines and blogs are filled with Street Goth, Normcor, and Athleisure collections that are all the rage, but prohibitively expensive and not marketed to dapperQ’s. Furthermore, there are only a few indie QPOC designers who are creating limited edition streetwear in this genre. Indie, QPOC owned STUZO has consistently made impeccable streetwear geared towards our community, and their latest SHERO collection is affordable and fashion-forward! Photographer Molly Adams spent the day with the STUZO team – Stoney and Uzo – photographing their latest SHERO designs and learning more about the inspiration behind the collection.
Molly: Where are you from?
STUZO: Stoney was born in North Carolina, but grew up in the Bronx NY. Uzo was born in Nigeria, lived in Spain for four years and moved to NY at the age of 16.
Molly: How did you come up with the name STUZO?
STUZO: It is a combination of our names. We chose “Stuzo” because it defines what our company stands for: strength, non-conformity, and love.
Molly: Tell me about your current collection – what’s the inspiration behind it?
STUZO: The inspiration behind our SHERO collection is to highlight the strength in our femininity. Every time you watch a movie or a superhero movie, there is always a man rescuing a woman, showing that women are helpless and weak. We come across so many strong individuals, that are not men, in our daily lives out there changing the world. The world is filled and glorified with everything masculine, so we wanted to highlight the word “SHERO” to show that there are women out there kicking ass. Every time you stand up for yourself or anyone else, your being a SHERO!
Molly: What you find to be the major differences and unique flavors between LA and NY queer style?
STUZO: The major difference between NY and LA queer style is in NY there are more layers and chic moments carried out. People dress for the seasons, so every piece is taken into consideration when completing one’s outfit; i.e. scarves, gloves, hats. LA is a more relaxed style being that the weather is kinda the same year round. Most people tend to wear shorts and light pieces, regardless of the occasion.
Molly: How do you run your company and how is it different from market competitors?
STUZO: We design and manufacture most of our pieces by hand, so every purchase is a part of us. In addition, while we put females first, our brand is for all genders to wear and enjoy.
Molly: How is it mixing business with pleasure as a couple in a business partnership?
STUZO: Our working relationship was hard at first, because we needed to learn how to communicate with each other outside of our relationship. We needed to figure out our strengths and not try to do everything. Delegating and playing to our strengths has worked greatly. At this point, we couldn’t imagine running the company without each other.
Molly: Where do you see yourselves going?
STUZO: Our mission is to create a space in the fashion world where all are welcome without judgment. Most of our pieces are “unisex” or gender-less as we prefer to call them, because clothes don’t have any [gender] last time we checked. “Men” wear “women’s” clothes and “women” wear “men’s” clothes, get over it!
Molly: What’s next?
STUZO: Our Spring/Summer collection is our next project. It is inspired by Stoney’s Panamanian culture. We also plan to takeover the world!
Molly: What’s something everyone should know about STUZO?
STUZO: Our brand is for the non-conforming and bold at heart. It doesn’t matter what shape or form you chose to exist in, if you live your truth, we celebrate that!
Molly: Anything you’d like to add in closing?
STUZO: We appreciate and stand by our peers like dapperQ for bringing companies like us to the forefront. It’s important for community to help each other rise and bring awareness to what the other is contributing to our world. We thank you for that!