Jaquial Durham had what most would consider an unusual entry into the fashion world. After deciding to forgo his high school prom, the soon to be designer took the money his grandmother had given him for his tux to launch his fashion line. “She was upset, but that’s what I wanted to do,” Durham told Greenville News.
These days however? That small investment is paying off in a big way. While he had a rocky start in the fashion industry, Durham was able to successfully start a media company by the name of Public Culture while he awaited his big break. During this time he also worked to earn his bachelor’s degree from Winston-Salem State University and received two masters from George Washington University and Georgetown University.
Years later as Durham reignited his passion for fashion, he was able to combine his studies with his media company, and launched a fashion line that would tell the hidden stories of Black leaders and organizations on the campuses of predominantly white institutions.
“On white campuses in the South, there is an untold story,” he said.
The recently released capsule collection includes hand painted visuals atop the garments that highlight the people that played a pivotal role in shaping the communities they belonged to. The pieces also feature a qr code that when scanned, offers more detail on the backstory of the image.
The collection took nearly two and a half years to complete, but Durham couldn’t be more satisfied with the divine timing of it all.
“It was perfect timing because I also was recently admitted for my doctoral degree at Clemson,” Durham said. “And so it was perfect, to be admitted to the university, come back home and be more involved with the community.”
The first piece in the collection features the Student League for Black Identity (SLBI), a student-led organization known for promoting and preserving culture and history at Clemson. Upcoming pieces will feature Harvey Gantt, the first African American student admitted to Clemson, and the Littlejohn Grill, a hangout frequented by Black Clemson residents.
“I decided to release them separately because I wanted to give each piece its own life story in his own life and his own time to shine,” Durham said.
While the full collection is soon to make its debut, you can shop the first pieces now at thepublicculturecollections.com.