This Brand Is Changing The World One Gender-Fluid Garment At a Time
Can couture both give back to our environment and influence the way future generations view gender? Does fashion have the power to create an entirely new concept of how we live? Russell Peguero, a New York City based designer, thinks so. Sitting on the rooftop of his beautiful, Hell’s Kitchen studio space, Peguero (dressed in one of his designs) introduces Llessur NYC: an innovative couture brand focused on creating gender fluid, environmentally conscious pieces for the next generation. The 28-year-old designer’s passion for the future of the fashion industry and the environment is palpable with his every word.
Originally from the Dominican Republic, Peguero started designing at a very young age, making miniature, couture outfits for his sister’s paper dolls, and there was no turning back from there. The dolls for which he now designs are the youth of New York City. He continuously emphasizes that Llessur is a brand “for future generations,” focusing not only on for whom he is designing, but also on working sustainably.
After learning he was HIV-positive shortly after college, Peguero took a break from designing and moved out of the city, but returned shortly after, inspired to share and continue his dream. “Life happens,” he says. “This isn’t going to stop me from living my life…I don’t let it define me in any way. If anything, I like sharing my story.”
Just in time for NYC Pride, Peguero worked with Brooklyn-based photography and styling team, Abi Polinsky and Elizabeth Vaccaro, to bring Llessur to life. The shoot, entitled “Sad Party”, showcases the focus of the brand by utilizing male, female, and gender fluid identifying models. When asked about who the brand is for, Peguero smiled and said, “I don’t want ‘male’ or ‘female’ on my label…I want ‘For All!’” His pieces express both the feminine and masculine details that we choose to individually emphasize, while doing so in cohesive garments that do not lean distinctly masculine or feminine.
His current muse and face of the label, singer Merlot, known for his signature freckles, inspires the gender fluid designs. “He identifies as a man, but there’s no definition to what he wears. He’ll wear a gown and then the next day wear a whole suit and it’s amazing!” Peguero says. He anticipates the singer will showcase more of his designs this month during Pride events, exclaiming, “New York is the place to be for Pride!” Though a member of the LGBT community himself, Peguero markets his designs to everybody, believing that gender fluidity lives in each of us.
“Llessur is not just a brand. It’s a movement. A movement not only about the perceptions of gender, but also what fashion can do for the environment,” Peguero says, eyes sparkling. “I want to infest this city and create a whole new concept of how to live.”
With Llessur, Peguero aims to break the cycle of design. “I’m sick of seeing fashion repeat itself…I don’t want to see the 90s are back in…the 70s…the 60s! Why aren’t we creating new innovations?” Peguero asks. Taking inspiration from everywhere and everything, including Alexander McQueen, The Fifth Element, and his very first inspiration—the vegetation of the Dominican Republic—Peguero wants others to see his work and understand that everything we do gives to the next generation.
After learning about how much the fashion industry contributes to world pollution, Peguero vowed to work sustainably, designing with the future of the environment at the forefront of his mind. In September, for example, Peguero plans to release a design for a phone case made completely out of corn syrup. But it doesn’t end there. The Llessur label is constructed from seed paper, and the box in which the case comes, a planter to grow the seeds.
Peguero’s enthusiasm in regards to the impact of his craft is inspiring. He isn’t concerned with other designers incorporating his ideas into their work. On the contrary, he wants them to. “When I think about Llessur, it isn’t about the money or fame. I’m not being selfish,” Peguero explains. “It’s important to me that other brands notice what I’m doing. I really want to change the world with my work.”
Photographer: Abi Polinsky
Stylist/MUA: Elizabeth Vaccaro
Designer: Russell Peguero (I AM LLESUR)
Models: Mike Russo, Hayden Graye, Rose Cordero
Stay tuned to Milk for more rising fashion brands to watch.