Detroit Fashion Label Deviate Reveals a Dark New Collection

Founders Cassidy and Kelsey Tucker talk merging fashion with art
The Black Denim Felt Patchwork Jacket from Deviate’s Miraculous Journey fall/winter 2021 collection. // Photograph courtesy of Deviate

Detroit-based fashion brand Deviate reflects on the challenges of the past year while also conjuring hope for the future in its fall/winter 2021 collection, Miraculous Journey. The line, revealed today, is inspired by Kate DiCamillo’s The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane — a children’s book that follows China bunny rabbit doll Edward Tulane through a story of heartbreak, growth, and love.

Like every release from the brand, Miraculous Journey is a conceptual arrangement of unisex pieces that walk the line between fashion and art. We sat down with Deviate founders and sisters Cassidy and Kelsey Tucker to discuss the collection’s themes of light, loss, transformation, and fate.

Hour Detroit: How did you first come across the book that inspired the Miraculous Journey collection?

Kelsey: Cass and I read The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane when we were growing up. It was one of our favorite books, because it made you laugh, it made you cry — you feel all these emotions through this bunny rabbit doll. Then, I was staying at my dad’s at the beginning of quarantine, and I found the Edward book. I read it again, and it made me think about everything going on today.

How so?

Kelsey: In the beginning, the China bunny rabbit doll named Edward Tulane doesn’t know how to love anyone and really only cares about himself. Then, throughout the book, he experiences loneliness and fear and change — all things that are super relevant to today, especially given the year we had in 2020.

Cassidy: I think this book, while tailored to younger children, does apply to today’s America — probably more than we’d like to admit — in terms of race relations, economic inequality, gender inequality. It touches on how to love and care for one another in the purest form possible.

Tell me about the symbolism within this collection.

Kelsey: There’s a lot of juxtaposition between symbols of light and dark, which signify phases of your life where you’re being given good fate and phases where you’re being given bad fate.

Cassidy: And this idea of fate really represents change, in the broader sense, and how that change can be good or bad. There are several points throughout the book where it’s almost like the toss of a coin determines what is going to happen to Edward next. We wanted to explore how good and bad fate can insert themselves in our lives and the end result can potentially be something beautiful.

These are some serious, potentially negative themes for a fashion line. Were you ever concerned it might be too dark?

Kelsey: I like to say I work best in the dark. I like exploring concepts that make people feel uncomfortable — that make them think about things from a different perspective. Our spring/summer collection was inspired by trauma. Themes that push the boundaries of being uncomfortable are very relevant in the aesthetics of our work. We have no line of what’s too dark.

Cassidy: The reason we wanted this collection to have those darker undertones is because this last year has been extremely challenging. To try to just put a happy spin on it wouldn’t be just. We wanted to capture all the negativity that’s in the world right now, while also incorporating hope — that’s why we include good fate.

What is your favorite piece from the collection?

Kelsey: We reinterpreted the story of the Miraculous Journey with our own little plush toy named Lee. [Watch Lee, who wears clothing from the fall/winter 2021 collection, in Deviate’s fashion film above.] The Black Felt Flannel Lined Patchwork Kimono Robe is one of my favorite pieces, because it has a bunch of different symbols, like the wheel of fortune tarot card, the crow, the hands. It really tells that whole story [of the film] through one garment.

Why is it important to you to create collections that speak to a deeper theme?

Kelsey: You can create clothing, but to create actual art, you have to have a story behind it. You have to evoke emotion in people when they look at the garments, or else it’s just wasted energy.

So, how do you hope this collection makes people feel?

Kelsey: I would love people to just be able to connect with it. Like, if you’ve lost a loved one or were in a dark place, where you felt the wheel of fortune wasn’t going your way, there’s hope. Things are always changing. It just depends on your perspective and your ability to adapt.

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