Fashion designer Sheila Rashid on keeping things subtle with her Jack Daniel’s collaboration

We caught up with Sheila to find out more about her creative process, and how she tackled designing a pair of overalls inspired by the iconic booze brand.

Chicago-based fashion designer Sheila Rashid has carved out a reputation for collections that confront and curtail ideas around gender identity, and reflect her own sense of style.

In recent years, Sheila has worked on brands including Nike and Nissan, while her latest collaboration saw her team up with Jack Daniel’s on a limited-edition pair of overalls.

We caught up with Sheila to find out more about her creative process, and how she tackled designing apparel inspired by the iconic booze brand.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
Hi Sheila, it’s great to catch up. Before we look at some of your branded collaborations, how did you get into the fashion industry?

It was always a passion of mine. It started in high school, doing hand-painted t-shirts and distressing hoodies. I went to college but dropped out and ended up interning for other designers and teaching myself how to sew, because I wanted to make things from scratch. I knew that I wanted to make clothes for a living for the rest of my life, and so I just kept going!

You’re based in Chicago; is there a big fashion scene there?
It’s a creative city. It’s not the most fashion-driven city, but there’s a lot of creative people in Chicago that care about fashion. We’re here, it’s just not the same kind of fashion culture as somewhere like New York.

Great. While you’ve designed pieces for brands like Nike, Nissan and Jack Daniel’s, you are a fashion brand yourself… I’m interested, what are your brand values?
I’m definitely a bespoke brand. I do a lot of custom pieces. It’s very unisex; I keep things gender-neutral. I’m always trying to do something new and innovative. Right now, denim is my niche; I’m doing a lot of denim and overalls.

Was there a moment when you realised you were a brand, and that having your name on pieces really meant something to consumers?
Yeah! I mean it took some time for me to put my name on things, but when Chance the Rapper wore my overalls to the VMAs in 2016, it solidified my name a bit more. It was a really big thing; it went viral and it was a cool moment that really helped.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
Yes! I remember that seeing that… How did that all come about?

It was pretty organic. We’re both from Chicago and we see each other out all the time. I knew his stylist at the time, and she reached out to me. She told me the night of the VMAs that he was gonna wear them. That was cool.

Amazing. Now moving onto your work with brands, your first one was a collaboration with Nissan, which sounds quite unusual! How did you approach creating a fashion line inspired by a car?
A lot of brands want to be more inclusive. That’s what happened; it dropped around Black History Month. They were looking for young designers to collaborate with and I proved to be the right fit.

I made a small capsule collection inspired by the Nissan Rogue. After that we did a commercial and then we revealed the collection at the Wearable Art Gala, run by Tina Knowles-Lawson. It was dope.

And how did you approach that, because it sounds like quite a creative challenge to bring that car to life in a fashion collection?
It was about bringing fashion and technology together. With the very first collections I did -years ago – I was designing a lot of dresses and doing lots of geometric-inspired seams. I brought that aesthetic back with the Nissan collection. A car is pretty complex, so I took how it looked and played with a lot of seam details with the pieces.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
Following that, you collaborated with Nike on a Sheila Rashid Air Jordan – how did you go about bringing your style to that launch?

Nike had a theme for it – it was all about bringing together eight different artists from Chicago to collaborate with Jordan for the NBA All Star Weekend. I fit what they were looking for… I’m a designer, from Chicago, that’s already collaborated with them in the past on shoes. It made sense.

Each designer was given a colour associated with the Chicago Transit Authority. My colour was purple, so I had to use that colour to make something cool. I wanted it to look completely different to what you usually see the Air Jordan being.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
Mission accomplished! It looks great. Now, diving into your most recent brand collab – you teamed up with Jack Daniel’s to launch a pair of overalls inspired by Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey. What did your first few steps look like in deciding what direction to take that, because it seems like quite a creative challenge?

I know right! They briefed us on the history of Jack Daniel’s and that was really cool to learn about. They also knew what they wanted from me because they knew that I did overalls. I even mentioned about doing a hoodie, but they felt overalls fit the brand aesthetic better. It’s what I’m known for really, so that worked out!

I immediately knew I wanted the overalls to be cream, because a large part of the inspiration was the Tennessee Honey bottle. So not just the flavour, but the design of the bottle, which has a cream label. So I knew I wanted to design cream overalls with some gold top stitching, because the bottle has some gold details as well.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
And it’s all very smart and subtle… There’s not a huge Jack Daniel’s logo plastered on the front!

Exactly! I wanted it to be super subtle because that’s my style; I don’t like a lot going on when it comes to branding. I drew out a very simple pattern for how I wanted the honeycomb detail to look and that was all it needed. It’s straight to the point. You see it and you get it.

I also love the Classic Remix initiative that’s fuelling this collaboration.

Yes, tell us a bit about that.
The initiative will see Jack Daniel’s match 100% of the sales of both my launch and the launch from The Brooklyn Circus – a varsity jacket – to create two grants that will go to aspiring fashion designers. We’re the first ones to do this with Jack Daniel’s, so that’s great.

Sheila Rashid, Jack Daniel's
What a great idea! Now we’re seeing lots of brands – like Jack Daniel’s – move into the fashion space through creative collaborations. Are you a fan of brands that are new to fashion entering the space?

It’s a whole new lane that people are exploring and it’s great to see designers and brands collaborating more. That’s what it’s all about; companies and brands are being more open to collaboration and community. I think it’s good to collaborate.

Last question! How do you fuel your creativity?
I try to embrace my emotions and release creativity that way. It’s a tough question to answer though! I don’t really look at stuff online and get creative that way. Sometimes you need to take yourself away or on a trip to get creative.

With this being a Covid year, I’m going places locally but that trip that I really need – like a spiritual trip out in the country – is obviously not happening right now.

Well, hopefully that’s getting closer to being possible! A huge thanks for this Sheila, and congrats again on the Jack Daniel’s collaboration. Looking forward to catching up again soon.

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