Owning and operating Deviate, one the freshest labels coming out of Detroit, Kelsey and Cassidy Tucker are doing streetwear on their terms.
They say good things come in threes, but let me counter with this, two heads are better than one. There is power in duality. Most of the strongest pairs are made when two opposing personalities and traits combine. It may be odd to visualize two dichotomous things coming together with their contradictions binding them closer, but in reality it does make sense. Think of all the iconic duos throughout time who kick more ass once they team up: Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Kasher Quon and Teejayx6, the list goes on! Much like how yin balances yang, or that a jelly-only sandwich is unappealing, partnerships are greater than the sum of their parts. No industry has taken to the team-up, though, quite like fashion. While most think purely in terms of two brands getting in the lab to create something new, the final results are not always appealing (I’m looking at you, Dior Jordan 1). Beyond the high-profile successes and flops of the streetwear and fashion collaboration machine,many labels are built around a partnership. Diving even further, there are plenty of amazing sibling fashion duos out here! But, instead of spending the rest of this article praising the Olsen twins (love you), let’s focus on a different fashion-sister duo in our own backyard. With their brand Deviate, Kelsey and Cassidy Tucker are jumping into the Detroit fashion scene pushing their own vision for streetwear.
The Tucker sisters just get each other. For as long as they can remember, they’ve been a packaged deal; playing on the same ice hockey team and getting through childhood as a duo. While their goals (literally) went hand-in-hand in their youth, as they grew and their individual interests and talents blossomed, their lives began to diverge. Kelsey graduated from Wayne State’s fashion design program and moved to Los Angeles working for Vera Wang. Cassidy took her entrepreneurial acumen to the business world, working at a Detroit based start-up. “Although we physically went our separate ways, we kept that sibling connection,” assures Cassidy. After the company Cassidy worked for got a fat buyout, she was looking to jump back into the grind that comes with being at a start-up. Similarly, Kelsey was looking for a change and was itching to get her original designs out to the world. Then, like fate, the sisters had the a-ha moment to come together to establish something of their own. “I remember Cass calling me one day saying, ‘I remember Dad saying you wanted to start a brand, I wanna start one too!’” Kelsey regales through a laugh, “From there we came up with the name. We wanted the name to define our brand as being different, not following the status quo, and not making your decisions based on trends.” Combining Cassidy’s sensibilities as a businesswoman and Kelsey’s creative talent for conceptualizing, designing and building garments, the Tuckers launched Deviate in 2018.
Deviate brings together the best parts of both Tuckers’ personalities and puts them on display in the form of unique, intricate garments. Even if you were to meet the sisters just once, their dynamic becomes apparent. Kelsey, being the main creative force and design specialist, is colorful and bombastic, while Cassidy, the administrative expert, is more reserved and pragmatic. Like how their brand message calls for deviation, the Tucker sisters’ dualities work together to create a whole new look. They define it as “edgy-feminine streetwear.” While this description can be considered oxymoronic, that’s exactly the point. Everything they do for Deviate is authentically their way, and their schedule does not follow the standards of the fashion industry. “There’s a lot of fluidity to how we drop our collections. Some may think it’s sporadic, but that’s the point,” says Cassidy, “It’s supposed to be different. We call ourselves Deviate, and if we want to deviate from the norm, why would we drop our collections at the same time as other brands, in the same pantone colors?”
The collections feature precise tailoring and functionality, while also possessing a certain attitude that can be found on the streets. Kelsey cites her largest inspirations for her designs being architecture, and the graffiti she sees around the city. In their latest collection, the Tuckers were moved by brutalist architectural styles and their functionalities, and reflect that in the industrial silhouettes and faded color palette. Tops that are cropped asymmetrically, feature a different colored lining or even a removable cargo pocket are seen throughout their lineup in an array of colors. Jackets feature the classic rugged details of chore coats or trucker jackets, yet can feature exaggerated collars, extra hardware, buckles and clips, and come in shades ranging from a deep black to a rosy pink. Trousers can be dainty and feature details like ruffled trim going down the leg, or can be on the other extreme with outer pockets, tactical panels, metalware and cuffs. One particular highlight is a pair of a faded, bright, greenish yellow (the official color is still debated between the three of us) bell-bottomed cargo pants with patch pockets all down the leg and an exposed button fly. Attempting to describe the collection in traditional fashion terms can be difficult, and that may be a testament to how effective the Tuckers have been at executing their vision. “I’m so intrigued by the artistic side of fashion,” Kelsey explains, “I don’t want the clothes to look like some mass-produced stuff. It’s about empowering the individual!”
Aside from the attractiveness of the pieces, each garment's intricate details, like the mass amounts of pockets, extra enclosures and so on, are not just there to look pretty. Each garment is created as well with the duo’s own interests in mind, and the type of functions they personally would want out of their clothing. “We think of it like, ‘How can someone increase the number of times they touch their outfit and use the features?’ Cassidy says, “We don’t want you to toss on a jacket and forget about it until you eventually take it off at the end of the day.” Kelsey breaks it down her own way, “I think of clothing design like designing a car. You want the outside view to be attractive and desired, yet the inside is where all the functions and utility is at.”
Craftsmanship is as important as style to the Deviate team. They create their garments by hand from sustainable materials and practices, even going as far as dyeing their own products. The decision came first as a want to not outsource their dyeing to places like LA and New York, where it's more expensive, and did not allow the girls to have the autonomy they craved. This practical business decision has led them to experiment with natural dyes using locally foraged produce like blueberries, and more responsible dyeing practices like reusing water. “It was so expensive to do it out of state, and we felt that it was a waste of time anyway,” Cassidy explains, “So we just started doing it here. Kelsey became like a scientist, she got into the chemistry of it. And the response from the Detroit apparel manufacturing community has been insane.” With their signature dyeing process Deviate has been able to create a palette of over 130 original colors and have since branched out, offering their dyeing service to apparel companies all across Detroit.
With their close connection to apparel brands that live and breathe Detroit, combined with their own aspirations as a brand, the Tucker sisters intend to establish Detroit as a fashion city. To accomplish this they’re taking a totally unique approach, not only in their production process, but in how they contribute to the Detroit fashion scene as a whole. They’re living up to their brand’s mission, carving their own path, and creating a culture around their own ideas. “Everything we do at Deviate is about elevating Detroit,” Cassidy says, “Most of the opportunities are outside, but we have so many talented individuals here.” Their brand sets a precedent that you can jump into the scene with your own unique and crazy ideas, and with the right amount of love and dedication, it can thrive.
Words by Avery Naman and Daniel Garmo
Photos by Nefertiti Luakabuanga
Full article published on La Vie (here).