The seed of fashion was planted in Denisha “Dlang” Ferguson as a young child toddling down fashion show runways. Now as CEO of Indiana Fashion Foundation, a creative strategist, and most recently a self-published author, Ferguson is on a mission to help others launch their own creative endeavors. Ferguson discusses how IFF and the Council of Fashion Designers of America started CFDA Connects, a program aimed at connecting domestic fashion organizations with the global fashion industry.
Allison Troutner: How did a career path in cosmetology prepare you to be CEO of the Indiana Fashion Foundation, creative strategist, and self-published author?
Denisha “Dlang” Ferguson: “I started learning how to sew in my early teens. Then I started meeting other people like me who just wanted to sing, dance, rap, who wanted to make clothes. So I actually started producing fashion shows, and that was at the time I enrolled in cosmetology school. Cosmetology allowed me, also, to travel. So I would go to the major hair shows and that was another outlet for me to learn about event production and then it also helped build my confidence. When I was a teenager I was really quiet, I still am now. But fashion just lit me up. Not just fashion, it was more like how fashion made people feel.”
AT: You recently self-published the book, Year of the Creator. What was the catalyst and inspiration for writing this book and why now?
DF: “One of the common threads is that I’m always meeting people who have a dream and either they put it to the side or maybe they’re doing it, but they’re frustrated and give up. It’s just been something that’s literally been a lifelong thing for me to help others realize the potential in them and to do it. Every year is the year of the creator; every day you make steps toward whatever it is you want to do in life. If you just take two hours a day, twenty minutes a day, and incorporate the ideas you have, this is how you can truly live a happy life. So the book was born and now it’s out. I’m super excited just to continue to spread the message of ‘it’s your year.’
AT: IFF is a founding member of the CFDA Connects initiative. Can you tell me about this program and why it was an important initiative?
DF: A majority of designers are connected to CFDA. One of [CFDA’s] goals is to represent the American fashion industry. Well how can you represent the American fashion industry if we’re not pulling from regional and domestic markets? So the CFDA is partnering with these domestic/regional organizations…basically opening it up so we can have access to the global fashion Industry. So what that means is training, ways to advance manufacturing. What we’re looking forward to this next year is…for the students to be able to have more opportunities through internships. It’s opening [people] up to what we have in Indiana already too, in addition to what the CFDA can bring. Indiana just doesn’t have that infrastructure so that’s what the foundation is for.
AT: Fashion is a faced-paced industry, always evolving. What does the future of fashion look like to you?
DF: Of course you’re always going to have fast fashion, I don’t think that’s going anywhere anytime soon. But we’re gonna have some more brands that are more conscious. They’re going to do a dive into what they’re creating, why they’re creating it. Those small niche brands are going to be able to do really big business. Fashion, to me, is going to be really involved in how fashion makes people feel. How fashion makes people transform into who they already are. The future of fashion, especially in Indiana…is going to evolve into the conversation [that] fashion is truly a part of this ecosystem that can really drive…diverse groups of people together.