Everyday De’Angelo Haynes wakes up, sees the University of Technology Sydney symbol from his apartment, and gets teary eyed as joy overcomes him. A few months ago he didn’t even think it would be possible for him to live his dreams. However, because of the amazing people in his life and ‘support from a guardian angel’, he feels as if he has been living in a fairy tale.
A self described ‘country boy’ from the small rural town of Roanoke, Virginia, De’Angelo is 20 year old first generation university student at Virginia Tech University in America. He is currently on student exchange at the University of Technology Sydney. He majors in Fashion Merchandising and Design and minors in sustainability in natural resources and the environment. He also designs his own gender-neutral clothing line, Haute by Haynes. We met De’Angelo at our Sydney studio and were awestruck by his creativity, empathy, curiosity and talent. Everything he creates is driven by a desire to love people and to help them be their best selves.
Fashion is in his blood
Designing clothes is something that De’Angelo was always destined to do. His mother and grandmother were both seamstresses and he recounts how during his childhood he would fall sleep in his mom’s room to the sound of her sewing with her Singer sewing machine. ‘One vivid day I can remember asking my mom, “if there was one dream you could have fulfilled what would it be?”’, De’Angelo explained, ‘she told me it was to be a seamstress. In that moment I knew my connection to fashion and sewing was crucial, carrying my grandmother’s, and mom’s passion further since they weren’t able to’. He has named his clothing line, Haute by Haynes, to honour his mom, and as an ode to all the dreams that she sacrificed for his family and himself.
‘Making dreams come true one stitch at a time’
De’Angelo lives and breathes fashion. Often he will ‘get caught day dreaming of a new outfit or something (he) can create’. When designing clothes, De’Angelo always imagines that they are able to do all the talking for him. His designs have been greatly influenced by his mom’s vintage clothing collection – so the bold prints and colours you see in his designs are thanks to his mom’s impeccable style.
De’Angelo describes himself as a ‘fashion humanist’. He believes that clothing is a ‘vital bed for all people’ connecting us all. He has taken his college’s motto, ‘Ut Proism’ which means ‘I may serve’, to heart through his work. Everything he creates is driven by a desire to serve others, to learn about different cultures, to be completely himself and to spread love. He is working on a project that epitomises all of this, called ‘Forever Fearless’. De’Angelo envisions making one of a kind custom pieces from sustainable fabrics for people who may be going through life changes, ‘such as a woman who would love a new wardrobe to feel confidence in being pregnant, or a cancer patient who recently has recently undergone hair loss, or simply your grandmother who just wants someone to sit and knot with her’.
In his own words, De’Angelo describes his gender-neutral clothing line, Haute by Haynes as:
‘a clothing line for people who are fearless and daring and who go against the norm. I design for a person who can see and feel who they want to be. De’Angelo pictures Haute by Haynes being ‘a small clientele-based company making dreams come true one stitch at a time’.
We could try and describe De’Angelo’s looks for his photoshoot, but who better to discuss them than the designer himself?
“The marbled see through pant are actually a piece I’ve had for almost two years. I made them on a whim in my first-year dorm and had them featured last year at my schools fashion show. Those pants have been everywhere with me and they are single handily my favourite design so far. The top that goes with them is oversized – I love to play with proportions.”
“For the casual wear outfit, I wore a button up I got from a thrift store back home in Virginia. I wanted to remember where I came from, and that button up does that for me.”
“The African print dress has a storyline all in itself. I didn’t happen to go to my year twelve prom at home due to a great opportunity at a marketing competition. I had seen the dress one of my favorite designers, Kyemah McEntyre, wore to prom and I knew I wanted to make something similar. When I started at the University of Technology Syndey, I heard there would be a dance/ball. I wanted to create something honouring my heritage, treating it as my prom night.”
Of the 3 looks, De’Angelo explains, ‘all of these pieces represent who I am, more than just a face, or a tall guy – but a person trying to show that we should all dare to be different.’
‘Being different is being true to you’
De’Angelo has big dreams for the future. Whilst he aspires to model, he also hopes to be an advocate for human rights and sustainability in resources for the future of textiles. He wants to work with governments and fashion companies globally to help build an environmentally friendly way of using textiles. Although, in the end he really just wants to be content in who he is, wearing what he wants to wear, bringing smiles to people’s faces and showing people ‘that being different is being true to you!’. We love everything that De’Angelo is about and felt honoured to work with him to execute his creative vision for his photoshoot.