The Detroit designer talks custom jeans, entering the Fashion Mogul Challenge and what comes after winning $20,000.

In 2018, the Fashion Mogul Challenge (FMC), presented by PUMA and the Sean Anderson Foundation set to discover the next generation of designers. Together with PUMA, Big Sean created interactive working sessions to allow entrants to pitch custom shoes and apparel designs for the chance to win up to $25,000 in cash and prizes.

Part of Sean Anderson Foundation’s D.O.N. (Detroit’s On NOW) weekend, which celebrated not only the city of Detroit but also paid tribute to the businesses, teachers, community and activists that make the city what it is today, FMC aimed to give back to Detroit’s burgeoning stars.

Kyle Hodges, a Detroit native, and designer with a passion for sneakers and custom jeans was tagged in an Instagram post. “I was just in the house working on clothes and [my friend] tagged me on Instagram,” Hodges remembered. “I was like, ‘oh, I should sign up for this!'”

Taking his designs and his faith in God, Hodges put together a portfolio for the competition. After scoring one of the twenty coveted places in the challenge, Hodges was welcomed by Myra Anderson, Founder & Executive Director of the Sean Anderson Foundation, to participate in workshops over two days, going after the opportunity to design a custom shoe for PUMA.

With a background in designing apparel, with a focus on custom jeans, Hodges was met with a new challenge of his own. Despite finding it “intimidating,” he went forward and threw himself into the workshops, honing in on his own unique set of skills.

Winning with a triple-denim PUMA shoe concept, Hodges plans to buy a new sewing machine with the money. “I’m getting the space to make more creative things and to put some of this stuff into mass production,” Hodges says about his plans for the $20,000 cheque. “I [now] know how to brand myself and how to approach the marketing aspect of it.”

Photo: Sean Anderson Foundation

Hodges admits, though, before FMC he almost gave up. “Five days before I signed up, I was just like, I’m done with this,” he confessed. “It’s not easy.” But after winning, he is sure God is showing him the way forward. “God brought me there to win, you know? And he knew I needed it. I needed that help, that credit, the push and the drive I needed [that win to] keep going.”

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Kish Lal

Kish Lal is a pop culture critic based in New York.

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