21-year-old Shami Oshun has made quite the name for herself. From designing a viral sensation of a “last-minute prom dress” to curating her own line of color-changing hoop earrings. The Bay Area native is most inspired by haute couture designer Iris Van Herpen and she is redefining popular fashion trends through fusing her designs with technology. Her fashion brand’s products range from the popular hoop earrings to neon-colored beverage bags.
After receiving supporters online from her viral Prom dress when she was 17, Shami Oshun’s high school in Hayward helped the young fashion designer get access to a 3d printer. After that, Oshun converted her fashion dreams into a reality by curating her brand that includes futuristic accessories and multipurpose dress designs. The designer collided her knowledge of tech with her passion for fashion to lead way in being one of the youngest Black fashion-tech designers to ever build a company off of combining both industries.
Now, Shami Oshun is a living embodiment of when opportunity meets preparation because her fashionable face masks were an internet success, according to her loyal Twitter followers. Her nude fashion and earth tone mask collections have become the best and most practical staple items to wear during the pandemic. Shami Oshun’s 12 nude shade masks perfectly matched Fenty Beauty’s all-inclusive foundation line and this caught the attention of Rihanna’s powerhouse makeup brand on social media. The Fenty Beauty x Shami Oshun face masks highlight all colors and complexions to showcase the same values Rihanna’s Fenty Beauty makeup brand upholds.
Shami Oshun catches up with Essence to discuss the future of her self-titled brand and her viral fashion face masks.
ESSENCE: What is the origin story behind your fashion-tech brand, Shami Oshun?
Oshun: It’s been an interesting experience considering the things that brought me to where I am today and one of the big ones is the Prom dress in high school. I didn’t talk to anyone at that point in high school because I was in my own world. At the time, my dad bought me some fabric when he came back from Ghana and the textures really inspired me to just start designing. Then, I shared it with my one hundred followers on it and I got good feedback. So I was thinking, I am right. This is cool. Maybe I should try to do something with fashion and then it went on from there.
How did that viral Prom dress moment motivate you to curate your own brand?
That was such a weird experience for me because it was the first time I ever went viral and it was so overwhelming. For the most part, everyone was really nice and really supportive. It was definitely eye-opening because I felt like it was going to take forever to build my audience. Social media helped me get to where I wanted to be and kind of put me in the eyes of some of the people that I didn’t think ever were going to see me. It has been amazing since then.
Was your dream to collaborate with Fenty Beauty when you originally created the “match your Fenty foundation shade” facial mask?
The nude masks were kind of just created because that was something that I wanted to design. When the pandemic started, we were trying to figure out how to help people color match with our nude-colored masks. So, everyone kept asking us about their different makeup foundation that they wear. Fenty makeup was the answer and we created a visual chart for fun so that customers could match their masks to their own Fenty Beauty shade.
Why was collaborating with a commercial and major Black-women founded brand important to you and Shami Oshun?
I love Rihanna and was obsessed with her growing up so I was so excited when Fenty Beauty reached out for this opportunity. There aren’t many Black women fashion designers and I wanted to represent every single person in one mask. Including all complexions and colors was the main goal for the collaborative mask. In terms of the pattern, I drew inspiration from Fenty Beauty’s photography work of their foundations and then I combined that imagery with geodes and red rock looking mesh because the natural world has so many layers of different colors.
What is your ultimate goal with colliding the worlds of tech and fashion with your brand, Shami Oshun?
Shami Oshun is all about what the future of fashion can be. I wholeheartedly feel like the future of fashion and the way that technology is heading — it’s inevitable that the future of fashion is tech. So, I wanted to put my spin on it and see how I could influence the future of fashion.