Streetwear brand Private Policy recently teamed up with activist, artist and actor Chella Man for a four-piece ear jewelry capsule collection to raise awareness for the Deaf community and to celebrate wearing hearing aids.
The collaboration, called The Beauty of Being Deaf, contains gold-plated earpieces that beautifully wrap around the ear. Every model featured in the campaign is a member of the BIPOC Deaf community.
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If you aren’t familiar with Man’s work, the 22-year-old activist creates work at the intersection of art, disability, queerness and race. Man — who identifies as Deaf, Jewish, Chinese and trans — made a name for himself by producing projects pushing the boundaries of inclusivity and accessibility.
Man met Private Policy designers Haoran Li and Siying Qu at the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund Award Dinner in 2019. Li and Qu were fitting Man for the event, and found themselves surprised by how deep their conversation went in a short amount of time.
“The first conversation in person was an hour-long, talking about his art, his passion for queer, trans activism, and the Deaf community, and our brand vision on bringing awareness to social-political topics through fashion,” Qu told In The Know. The conversation went way beyond a normal fitting session, and it felt so comfortable, genuine and exciting.”
“One day, Chella texted us, ‘Do you wanna collaborate together?’ Then we met in a cafe in downtown Brooklyn,” Li added. “Chella told us how he wanted to do an accessory for people who have hearing difficulties. We immediately clicked.”
Both Li and Qu were born in China, coming to the U.S. to pursue a career in fashion. The pair met at the Parsons School of Design and during their senior year, they decided to start Private Policy together.
For the collection, Man drew inspiration in part by an artist residency he did in Italy, and by what he described as his life-long desire to feel more “connected” to the appearance of hearing aids and cochlear implants. Deciding to work with Private Policy was the easiest part of the process.
“I have always admired the metaphorical approach Private Policy brings to their designs,” Man told In The Know. “There is always a deeper meaning [in their designs] often rooted in inclusivity and accessibility.”
The timing couldn’t be more poignant either. As anti-Asian attacks spike in the U.S., the power in this collaboration being entirely Asian-led isn’t lost on the trio.
“As Asians in America, we bear a lot of stereotypes,” Qu said. “I want to proudly let people know that this project is Asian-led with a full minority cast. I believe these individual moments of breaking the stereotypes will stay in people’s minds and contribute to a bigger change in society.”
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