At KIM+ONO, we talk a lot about the intersection of heritage and head-turning contemporary style. We are inspired by our co-founders’ families Chinese and Japanese heritage to update the traditional Japanese kimono into our own modern kimono robe designs. It’s important for us to create a piece of wearable art that makes you feel confident, beautiful, and like the queen you are, while staying connected to our own roots and foundations.
That marriage between honoring our own heritage and creating a modern day aesthetic for our floral kimono robes is essential to us, so when we met Trinity Griffin, we knew we wanted to learn more about her work. With confidence and head-turning style, Trinity is a stylist, a writer, a brand communications manager, and the founder of the Black fashion platform When We Dress. We asked Trinity to tell us more about her modern aesthetic, her platform When We Dress, and why it’s imperative to celebrate Black creativity in the world of fashion and beauty. Read on for her inspiring answers:
1. Tell us a little bit about the When We Dress platform.
I launched When We Dress in September 2020 and describe it as a platform dedicated to showcasing the marvel and originality of Black creativity in the worlds of fashion and beauty. The Black community often sets the tone for fashion and beauty trends and, even with that being the case, gets erased from those conversations. When We Dress was created to serve as a reminder of this.
2. What are your favorite trends that showcase “Black creativity in the world of fashion & beauty?"
My first favorite trend would easily be acrylic nails and nail art. A trip to the nail salon for Black women has always been more than just a form of maintenance. For decades, it has been used as an avenue of self-expression and to explore our sense of creativity. As a collective, we have done the absolute most with our nails since the ‘80s. With the resources nail artists have now in 2021, our nails can literally act as our own personal little canvases to create whatever kind of art we want.
Another one would be nameplate necklaces (or nameplate jewelry in general). Getting a piece of jewelry with your name on it as a Black girl growing up was like a right of passage. It was a way for us to feel affirmed in our identities and do so with pride. I’ve actually had the same nameplate necklace since I was eight years old and I still wear it to this day.
3. What was the impetus that led you to create When We Dress?
With all the protests that ensued last summer after the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, I wanted to figure out a way that I could play my part because time and time again, the world has shown that it doesn’t care about making space for us – so I was inspired to make one of our own in the realms of fashion and beauty specifically. Aside from those being two of my passions, they have also been the Black community’s means of expression for centuries.
I also wanted to be more conscious of where I spent my money and support more Black-owned brands, so I’d find brands that I like or admire and feature them so other people can shop with them too, or at least have the brands on their radar. I wanted it to be a place that Black people can go to for inspiration whether that be for an uplifting motivational message, style inspiration, or a suggestion for a nail design they can try.
4. How do you go about defining your own style? Does it change day by day? Or season to season?
I would definitely say my style changes day by day. It’s really based on my mood. Even with that, there are staple characteristics of whatever I wear regardless of my mood which I would describe as romantic or feminine. Don’t get me wrong I love a good masculine piece too like an oversized blazer or pants suit but I typically feel like my best self whenever I dress super ‘girly.’ I’m really drawn to heels and pieces that make me feel powerful and confident in my femininity. Any piece that evokes that kind of emotion is getting added to my wardrobe without a doubt.
The season definitely also plays a part in terms of color palette. I wear more colorful pieces in the spring and summer. In the winter I love color too but a more muted version. For example in the summer I might wear a bright orange top, while in the winter it would be rust instead.
5. Who are the biggest influences on your style and aesthetic?
Honestly in this day-in-age there is so much inspiration right at our fingertips. Whether it be Twitter, Instagram, or TikTok I am constantly influenced or inspired to try out new things. There was a point in time where I almost never wore colorful clothing. I would almost strictly wear earth tones or blacks and whites. I would scroll down my timeline and see some of my peers or other creatives looking amazing in all the colors they’d wear and experiment with and that helped me feel emboldened to step out of my comfort zone and do the same.
6. What pieces do you wear when you want to feel the most like yourself?
Anything romantic and femine truly. And even though they can kill my feet sometimes, definitely heels. Whenever I have on a pair of heels I just feel like I can conquer the world. I don’t know what it is about them.
7. What fashion or beauty rituals bring you into the present moment and give you energy?
I don’t think anything brings me into the present moment more than trying on outfit ideas that come to mind – and especially after getting home from a big thrifting trip. Typically when I go thrifting, I try to keep in mind what I can pair each piece with in my existing wardrobe. So getting home and actually seeing those ideas come to life definitely fuels me.
Getting my nails and toes done are also great ways to bring me into the present moment. I get to sit down and be pampered for an hour and a half lol.
8. What advice would you give to other women who are interested in cultivating their own sense of style?
For the clients that I style, three of the most important questions for me to ask during their consultations are: 1. What is something you always wanted to wear but haven’t? 2. Who are your biggest style inspirations? 3. What are your favorite items in your closet?
I would advise anyone who is trying to cultivate their own sense of style to start with answering these questions for themselves. When you think about something that you always wanted to wear but haven’t, that tells you the type of clothing you are drawn to but for whatever reason feel like you might not be able to pull it off. Cultivating your own sense of style is all about experimenting and seeing what works for you. You could finally try wearing something you thought wasn’t for you and turns out it actually looks amazing; then you know whatever qualities drew you to that particular piece can be a part of the makeup of your style.
Determining your biggest style inspirations can give you a blueprint for the type of wardrobe you want to build. You can look to people in your life or even just style bloggers or celebrities. Whichever styles you feel most aligned with will help you figure out the type of clothing you should be keeping an eye out for.
Lastly, identifying your favorite items that you already own is the most important to me because this can help you figure out what it is that you need more of. When you assess why you love those pieces you can start to figure out what they have in common and keep that in mind as you build out your wardrobe.
9. What are you most hopeful for as 2021 comes to a close?
I am most hopeful for continuing to see the fruits of my labor in 2022 and beyond. I’ve taken on a lot of new projects this year that have really fed my creativity and sense of self. Although it has felt overwhelming at times, it’s also been just as rewarding. I feel like in doing that, it's also laid the groundwork for what is to come next year. I’m not so sure of what that will look like just yet but I am excited to find out.
Learn more about and follow When We Dress and Trinity Griffin. And tag us with your own beautiful kimono styles on Instagram @kimandono_ and #swaythisway! We love to see your confidence shine, lovely, and recognize you for the queen you are.