In the male-dominated world of streetwear fashion labels, it’s hard for a chick to cut a break.
But that’s exactly what East Side San Jose–based fashion designer Joyous Ladi is endeavoring to do with Girls Night Out Society (GNOS), her innovative new streetwear line.
Designed just with fly ladies in mind, Ladi’s ironic, irreverently funny screen-print girl-fit T-shirts have only been on the market for a few months. Nonetheless, GNOS is already generating some serious Internet buzz.
Her designs recently beat out hundreds of other submissions for a featured spot on one of the top streetwear retail websites, Karmaloop.com. In recent months, GNOS has also been highlighted on several well-known street-style blogs and publications like TheFreshStock.com, C’est La Vie and Dfined Magazine.
Furthermore, GNOS was invited to participate in last spring’s San Jose Fashion Art Music Exhibition (F.A.M.E.), as well as several other fashion shows in Las Vegas and the greater West Coast.
It’s no wonder, because Ladi’s Girls Night Out Society is a standout among the small but increasing recognized San Jose streetwear scene. “There are just a lot of inspiring people around here,” says Ladi, 24, who grew up in San Jose’s District 5 area. “A lot of local names are popping up and getting themselves out there. It’s really motivating and gets me inspired all over again.”
Local brands like Breezy Excursion, Halloway and Cukui are raising the South Bay’s visibility in the wider national urbanwear industry—much of which comes through cross-promotional events at nightlife spots like the VooDoo Lounge and Empire Seven Studios.
That said, there definitely is a glass ceiling of sorts in the local streetwear world, Ladi says. It’s common for men’s streetwear T-shirts and baseball caps to feature funny designs and logos that embrace a hip-hop, rock & roll party lifestyle. However, the way women are presented in the streetwear scene is more commonly as hypersexualized hangers-on in booty shorts—not the sassy, independent ladies GNOS is trying to cater too.
Ladi sees her customer base as the young, hip woman who can have fun sipping a 40 and representing like the boys, but looking hot at the same time.
“I know a lot of people within the San Jose streetwear industry, and I definitely feel like it’s very male-dominated,” Ladi says. “It’s very saturated these days. It’s full of men, and you know, you have to push a lot harder. But, I turn that into motivation. I just want them to know a woman like me can do this, too. I can do this, even though I’m surrounded by men.”
Ladi prides herself on being entirely self-taught. She says she envisioned the idea behind GNOS after a bad breakup.
Instead of moping around the house, she teamed up with her sister and a few friends to try and get her dream streetwear label off the ground.
Armed with nothing more than a camera, a trial version of PhotoShop and a model that was willing to pose for cheap, Ladi dived headfirst into designing GNOS and hasn’t looked back.
Ladi says that music is a huge inspiration for her. In fact, her popular “Today Was a Good Day” T-shirt design was actually inspired by a rap tune, she says.
“I was listening to Ice Cube, and I just had this vision when he said, ‘Today was a good day.’ I pictured this girl just letting herself go. She’s falling on the ground and holding a 40, like ‘No worries at that moment,’ and there is this cityscape behind her, and someone trying to pick her up.”
Even the name Girls Night Out Society was chosen to impart this sense of Girl Power stemming from Ladi’s own experience, she says.
“I genuinely wanted to come out with something fresh, like raw and gritty,” Ladi explains. “When I came up with the name, I envisioned what’s fun, what’s fresh, and I thought ‘Girls Night Out.’ Whenever I have a girls night out, I just let myself go, I’m myself, I’m free. You just let it out. And I added ‘society’ to make the name more edgy.”
Ladi’s latest winter collection for Girls Night Out Society will be uploaded to her website by the end of the month.
Girls Night Out Society