By Codi Fant
With fluid designs and bold, popping, text, Artist and Fashion Designer MI Leggett liberates clothing from the gender binary with their unique fashion line, OR (Official Rebrand). As the name suggests, OR takes advantage of excess by rebranding old clothing through alteration, painting, and screen-printing. This gives previously discarded garments an new take on life. Through rebranding the clothing, Leggett tackles the often oppressive gendering of garments, allowing the wearer to explore their own identity, uninhibited by societal pressures of gender norms.
Official Rebrand is a conglomeration of ideas that Leggett has explored for much of their life. “When I was a little kid I made a lot of my own clothes,” they explained, “but in high school I started working on a farm and distanced myself from fashion due to apprehensions about materialism, superficial judgement, and the effects of excessive consumption on the environment.” The fashion industry is one of the top causes of pollution on the planet, in part due to the overwhelming excess of unwanted clothes—so Leggett’s concern is not unfounded. Leggett revisited their love of fashion when they worked for Fábio M Silva—queer designer, artist, and drag queen—in Berlin. “I got really excited about fashion again,” they said. “I soon realized how important (and fun) style can be as a tool for self-expression and self-love, particularly in queer communities.” Inspired by their time with Silva, Leggett began to paint and draw on their own clothing.
With excess in mind, the idea of rebranding emerged. However, the core idea of allowing the wearer to utilize the garment as a tool of self-definition is the key concept of OR. Leggett explained: “For some people, the clothes they choose can feel more authentic than the body they’re covering. The signifying power of personal presentation can be particularly crucial for queer people, who may feel differently on the inside than their bodies appear on the outside.” They continued, “I don’t identify with my assigned gender. I identify as non-binary/genderfluid so I would rather have people perceive me by something I can choose and change. If you want them to be, clothes are an incredible tool for exercising personal agency and expressing your felt-self, rather than your physical-self.”
OR pursues an aesthetic that is inherently anti-trend. The alterations are sometimes bold. Large painted text that challenges definitions of gender adorn many pieces. Leggett asserts the value of what some may confuse as superficial: “Visibility is an essential mechanism for expressing queer liberation and pride.” they affirmed, “Visibility mandates recognition, and without recognition marginalized identities are erased.” The message that Leggett intends to promote through OR is one of self-agency. “People are individuals and deserve unique clothing.” they explained “I seek to make clothing and inspire others to make clothing that celebrates the wearer and contributes to a vivacious social atmosphere.”
After a successful Pop-Up shop, Leggett is currently in the process of developing more pieces for the OR brand. They also have some collaborative projects coming up including styling a film, opera, and music video. In addition to this, Leggett strives to hold “rebranding workshops” as frequently as possible. “Everyone also has their own narratives and ideas,” they told me, “I like to help people tell it for themselves.”
Photographer: Davis Tate
Stylist: MI Leggett
L.H. Gonzalez: Queer Afro-Latino spoken-word artist - poeta sin miedo
Kai Joy: Mixed girl model rapper performer extraordinaire
Davis Tate: Southern Queer photographer and writer, general scoundrel
Brielle: LA-bound writer, potential visual artist
Justin Bongi: California Queer kid - described by acquaintances as 'definitely off-kilter, but only noticeably so if you spend more than four minutes with him'
MI Leggett: Genderfluid artist fashion designer, doesn't sleep
In the making of DRØME we hope to showcase a community of doers and nourish an attitude of empathy in a world that teaches us to pass judgment rather than practice kindness. The stories, images, and people shared in this magazine are an amalgamation of perspectives often overlooked or explicitly excluded from art and media worlds. The dearth of diverse identities and viewpoints within the arts is harrowing, especially for a young generation that is fighting its hardest to overcome conservative notions of order ultimately practiced as acts of discrimination against the very people and things we find most inspiring. In DRØME, the featured creators and creations encourage us to never shy away from who we are and what we want. Each artist, in sharing their story, embodies their own definition of agency. Against a mainstream ideology that indoctrinates patriarchal, capitalist, and hateful theories turned into policy, the artists in our first issue represent the ways in which art can take power back from society's denigrating control.