How This Queer Indian-American Designer Is Planning on Breaking Stereotypes in the Industry

How This Queer Indian-American Designer Is Planning on Breaking Stereotypes in the Industry

Like up-and-coming South Asian-American designer Sheena Sood, I grew up not seeing a lot of women like me in the fashion and beauty arena, and came across even fewer Indians when I started my career as a fashion editor. So, you can imagine that Sheena’s brand, Abacaxi, which she started in 2017, resonated with me for lots of reasons. Abacaxi, which is the Portuguese word for pineapple, features an array of environmentally-friendly colorful pieces (think: tunics, oversize outerwear pieces, and whimsical, flowy dresses), all handmade by artisans in Delhi. Seeing someone who’s also so proud of their roots, I felt an instant personal connection to her designs, knowing that the pieces were produced thoughtfully and sustainably by artisans in India.

“While my identity doesn’t define me, it certainly has informed my work and my creativity. I’ve always found my heritage to be the biggest source of inspiration. In fact, becoming re-inspired by a trip back to India is what led me to start Abacaxi in the first place. The richness of the textiles, the colors, jewelry, diversity in the ways of dress — there are lifetimes of inspiration to pull from. Art and fashion can also be tools to address my journey as a South Asian-American queer,” Sheena told me when I had the opportunity to chat with the designer about her brand.

We covered a lot of ground, ranging from how she plans on breaking stereotypes in the fashion industry, where she finds inspiration, her new collection called The Butterfly Effect, and much more. Read on for our conversation ahead.

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