Shami Oshun: The First and the Youngest
Meet Shami Oshun!
This 18-year-old ray of sunshine is continuing black history as the youngest and first African-American to 3D print fashion. As designer and CEO of Shami Oshun, her colorful and eclectic designs, some handmade, have taken the country by a storm. She’s been featured in Essence, InStyle, BuzzFeed, British Vogue, HuffPost, and Yahoo Canada Style. From her prom dress that she made and constructed by hand the night before her prom to the dazzling garden sleeves piece, Shami exudes black excellence and black girl magic. Check out my interview below with her and see some of her exuberant pieces!
Fatou: What does your name mean?
Shami: Shami means light of the sun. Oshun is the goddess of water and love.
Fatou: What is 3D print fashion?
Shami: It would be fashion that comes from a 3D printer in the most simplest way to put it.
Fatou: How does it feel being the youngest and first black person to 3D print fashion?
Shami: I think it’s really cool. When I first started, I knew it was something. I would think: Oh, I wonder if there’s other black people that have done this. After really researching and not finding anyone, I was like oh, oh wow. Okay…that works. It just makes me want to be better.
Fatou: Were you scared to step outside of your comfort zone as a designer?
Shami: I feel like 3D printing gave me more of the tools I needed to create clothes that I had in mind. I had all these ideas for thigs that couldn’t be made with actual fashion material.
Fatou: What do you like to do for fun?
Shami: I like to go get Boba. Boba is a drink, Vietnamese drink. It’s tea and it has tapioca pearls at the bottom. And I like to go to art shows with my friends.
Fatou: Which designer inspires you the most?
Shami: Guo Pei. She’s The first woman couture designer from China to go to Paris fashion week. Handmade designs of her culture and very detailed.
Fatou: What are your favorite pieces that you have created?
Shami: Besides the 3D printed collection, the garden piece. Originally what happened was I was working on it for a long time. The meaning behind everything is that it represents the positive things that happened in my childhood, which surrounded around nature. Sunflowers were important and butterflies were sacred. With the garden sleeve, I originally saw someone put out a jacket that was covered in flowers. I didn’t want to do a jacket, just sleeves.
The prom dress Shami made the night before her prom that went viral on Twitter.
Fatou: What advice, as a black woman in fashion, could you offer to designers?
Shami: The most important thing in art is to be persistent. To get where you want to be, is to just be persistent. I wanted to give up so many times but family and friends have encouraged me to keep going. That is ultimately what distinguishes those with drive and those without it.
Fatou: What do you hope your work does for other inspiring artists?
Shami: I really hope it inspires them to get in 3D printing or inspire them to start a clothing brand. In the Bay Area, we are mostly known for our music artists. As of semi-recently, we’ve had a tech investment taking up all of these areas and it’s creating a really big problem in our communities. Since the tech people are all here and they’re not going anywhere, it’s a part of their job to help. We need to bridge the gap of technology and art.
Check out Shami's website and her social pages: