Letesha Renee founded her brand Eugene Taylor, named after her late grandmother in 2008. To Letesha, Gloria Eugene Taylor was a woman who was the personification of inclusivity. She held space for the designer to create a fashion company that honors their special relationship by focusing on fostering a community that centers around empowering individuals to express themselves through creative work. “Our mission is to redefine the notion of equality through clothing [while]spearheading the revolution of genderless designs,” Renee tells ESSENCE.com.
As a founder and creative, Renee feels she channels her experiences and perceptions of the world into her designs. She also uses her experiences as a way to visually express her innermost thoughts and feelings. All aspects of her surroundings are considered, and so are encounters with strangers or those she is closest to—she says everything fuels her artistic vision.
Her latest collection entitled “Selfhood” pinpoints the brand’s distinct style and its innovative approach to design. It’s a study of the brand’s past, present, and future, and it also marks the brand’s pivotal evolutions through clothing. Pieces like three tier hoodie dresses, ribbed knit flare bottom sets, and elegant gowns with feathers and Avante garde shaping fill this new collection. Timeless and genderless garments are the brand’s main identifiers.
The designer’s deep passion for creating clothing resulted in her becoming a hands-on, self-taught creative ranging from construction to patternmaking to forecasting. She shares that she always has her nose in a book to sharpen her expertise. “I firmly believe that understanding how each garment is made is of utmost importance, and it has shaped me into an inspirational, expert, and professional in the field,” she shares. “Each piece is designed with longevity in mind, encouraging timeless elegance and sustainable fashion.”
Some of Renee’s favorite pieces she’s made are pieces like her take on the contemporary ‘90s baggy pants and a cargo skirt that has a professional yet utilitarian style. Some other standouts in her recent collection are a blocked wrap skirt featuring a khaki and plaid blend that gives a uniform-inspired look and the babydoll blossom gown which comes in two-tone tan and beige satin with a bubble hem. Each of these pieces creates a cohesiveness to the “Selfhood” collection.
Apart from her beloved grandmother who nurtured Renee into the designer she is today, she also looks to designers like Ralph Lauren, Alexander McQueen, and Bob Mackie. She shares that though she lets her creative internal voice guide her, these renowned creators also inspire her tremendously. “Ralph Lauren’s brand resonates with me due to its wide range of offerings, ensuring accessibility for all individuals,” she says. Here she mentions his ability to maintain affordability while offering high-end items has led to his mainstream success. Renee aspires to structure her business similarly. On Mackie, she notes: “His ability to create awe-inspiring pieces that exude opulence and elegance has always captivated my imagination,” she adds. “I aspire to infuse my own creations with a similar sense of allure and sophistication.”
She describes Alexander McQueen as a true visionary who has left an indelible impact on the fashion industry due to his “unparalleled innovation” and “unwavering commitment to individuality.” Renee pushes herself to call upon McQueen’s fearless spirit to “push boundaries.” His unconventional design track record has inspired her to strive for originality in her own designs. To Renee, these household names have components she would like to see infused into her brand. There’s excitement in the air for Eugene Taylor as she pushes towards creating a range made up of gender-neutral clothing. The pieces go “beyond ordinary items, skillfully incorporating and blending both masculine and feminine silhouettes” explains Renee.
Her dreams for the future of Eugene Taylor include seeing exponential growth and delivering designs that captivate and inspire others. Renee is driven by her desire to make a lasting impact on the global fashion industry.
“As a Black woman, I strive to offer a broader and more inclusive perspective, bringing forth a celebration of diversity and creativity within the realm of fashion,” Renee adds.