This week at Queer Fashion Week, you can get to know New York’s Geek Junky, custom looks designed by Chanique Quinones.
You can check out Quinones and her awesome geek chic Thursday at the Unconventional Fashion Show. In the meantime, read on to learn more about what has inspired Geek Junky and what to expect on the runway.
Wear Your Voice: What inspired Geek Junky? How did you get into fashion?
Chanique Quinones: While I attended the Art Institute for my bachelor’s in fashion and retail management, I was required to complete a three-month internship. My friend Ashley Burks and my professor, Courtney Hammonds, encouraged me to work with Yadiyda, a designer from London that lived in Atlanta. When I started working with Yadiyda and her assistant designer, Ariel Foxx, I was so intrigued by her team and her friends. I was fascinated by how they dressed, hung out out together and did things as a fashionable family.
I started to go out with them but didn’t feel like I was a part of the team, basically because I hated the way I dressed and how the clothes I wore were not fitting me and made me feel very uncomfortable. I decided I would extend my internship, which lead to being with them for two years. I figured out what I could wear to make me feel beautiful from both the inside and out. Yadiyda agreed to teach me how to sew and, once I found my niche, I was able to feel comfortable in my skin. When we started going out I finally felt like I belonged to a fashionable team of artists. I had a voice, I had a vision, I had “Me.”
WYV: How do you describe the brand’s aesthetic?
CQ: After doing two years with Yadiyda and Ariel, they taught me how to open my eyes to see more than what was in front of me; only then was I able to see my niche in unconventional fabrics. One day we all went to a Ross department store and I saw some of their $1 recycled bags, and the prints were amazing. I decided to grab 10 of them, not knowing why I wanted them and how I could use them. I stayed home for days looking at the bags then it hit me — let’s try to sew them and see what happens. I ended up making a Ross crop top, two round skirts and an oversized bow. Once I was completed with the bags, I had a hunger to find more unconventional fabrics to complete more unconventional looks, and this was the start of my brand before I had my brand name.
As a unconventional designer I am continuously learning new concepts on sewing. I wasn’t traditionally taught, so my aesthetics are partially defined by the fabric choices and the mixing and matching of prints. I would love to go back to school and push myself to learn the step-by-step process, which I feel will help me define my aesthetic.
WYV: Who is your target customer?
CQ: My target audience started off as plus-size women and femmes, but I felt I was limited. Now my target audience is open to the unconventional woman or femme, which means she loves to be different — not to stand out, but because it’s in her DNA. She loves supporting other artists and loves seeing people being happy in the skin they’re in, just as she feels about herself. She is open to learning new things from others and willing to help when needed. She is either a 9-to-5 and/or entrepreneur and loves teaching herself to add to her artistry.
WYV: What sizes do you include?
CG: I will do anything in any size, since I do custom work. I do not sell traditionally, which means you will not see the Geek Junky brand on any advertisements to purchase. I choose that route because I love making custom looks and it pushes me as an artist. For the customer they get a piece that you would not see more than twice, made by me, and that makes the garment more exclusive and desirable.
WYV: Who are your favorites characters/what are your favorite comics?
CQ: I love any form of cartoon characters, especially if its in a fabric and it comes from the ’90s, like Daria, Scooby Doo, stuff along the lines of that. I was super into Mickey Mouse as a kid. I did not like playing with Barbie dolls but I nearly had every type of Mickey Mouse product in my room and I fell in love with how he looked and dressed, from the classic Mickey Mouse to what he evolved into today
WYV: Who are your top three style crushes?
CQ: My top three crushes are Shawna Farmer of Chubby Cartwheels, fashionable twin bloggers Cailli and Sam Beckerman and RuPaul (and the entire Drag Race show). Chubby Cartwheels is great because of the fabric choices and what she creates as a designer. She makes the fashion community feel beautiful and confident in what they wear.
The Beckerman Twins are well traveled, which creates a vortex of diversity in their style choices. They rock unique pieces and style them to their liking and they even include their beautiful Pomeranians, Marni and Cubby, into the fashion mix.
I love the whimsical and iconic garments you find on RuPaul’s showcase and the artists that are able to live their dreams. I love the individuality that RuPaul, the judges, the guest judges and all the contestants bring to the table, which inspires some of my creative outlets and pushes me to continuously think outside of the box.
WYV: If you could cosplay any character, who would it be and why?
CQ: As much as I love various characters, I would cosplay myself. I live in a fantasy and I feel like everything I put on is a mini-version of cosplaying and this is why I want to become a costume designer, because I do not now how to dress any other way.