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Sala Damali White

Sala Damali White (She/They) 

@Oyasalaola 

Sala Damali White identifies as a half-blind, queer disabled artist. Sala is a Detroit-based artist and a Central Michigan University alumni. Her work is heavily inspired by AfroFuturism, which is a cultural aesthetic, and philosophy of science and history that explores the intersection of the African diaspora culture with science and technology. After her time at Central Michigan, she moved to the Bay Area which has also influenced her work as well. She utilizes a variety of mediums for her work as well.  

 

What do you design/create? 

“I created the ‘America Was Never Great’ dress after 45 was elected. I wore the dress to my last fashion show at CMU in front of Tim Gunn and during graduation.” 

 

When did you start designing or what got you into it? 

“I have been designing and making art since I was a child. I was very fashionable in high school and was inspired by a presentation to pursue fashion during college.” 

 

What is your favorite part of your business or designs? 

“I consider myself much more of a multidisciplinary artist than a fashion designer. My favorite part of the design is the composition or texture of the piece.” 

 

Has being black affected designing/running a business in any way? 

“Yes. I honestly think that in order to be a very commercially successful black person- you have to be a black capitalist- and I’m not really interested in that. I aim to design from an Afro-Futurist perspective that honors my intersectionality and humanity.” 

 

Do you feel misrepresented within the fashion/design industry because of your race/identity? 

“I would say I see more of the lack of representation at all or a minimal amount at best. As a queer black disabled femme, I don’t think I’ve ever seen my particular identity be represented on a large scale.” 

What does the future of fashion mean to you?  

“The future of fashion needs to be inclusive if it truly aims to serve the people.” 

 

Where do you gather inspiration for your designs? Where do you gather inspiration for your designs? 

They enter my mind and possess me until I complete them- that is the purest form of inspiration to me. I gather most of my inspiration from contemporary black culture and I’m very impacted by bold shapes and color 

 

Was there anyone/thing specific that inspired you to pursue this career? 

I was going to go to school for psychology until I saw a very moving art career presentation. Before that, I had never thought about a creative field, even though all of my parents are in one. 

 

What advice do you have for young designers aspiring to enter the industry? 

Document, document, document. I wish I had made a detailed tech pack of everything I designed now that my memory is failing me. Document and photograph everything to the best of your ability. 

 

What is one thing you hope changes for the future of the industry? 

The industry needs to be more accessible and inclusive to the disabled and plus-size communities to survive. Exclusion will only take you so far. 

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