Can you imagine being a teenager in the late 70s/early 80s when streetwear first came about? Brands like Stussy, Kangol, Adidas, and Fila had NYC’s hip hop culture and LA’s surf culture going crazy! Since then, this form of style has continued to grow at a substantial rate but has largely been dominated by men. Women run the world, Beyonce reminded us that and we have breaking barriers, creating a lane for ourselves in the streetwear world like never before. I had the chance to talk with Sonya Harris, designer, and owner of LA-based streetwear brand IAM.ECCENTRIC (IME). Wanting to merge her tomboy fashion with her inner child, Sonya has done just that while also expressing the importance of homegirls supporting homegirls!
Sonya’s brand, IAM.ECCENTRIC (IME) may be LA-based but she was born and raised in NYC, moving to the west coast in early 2019. Even though her move is pretty recent, Sonya isn’t new to designing or creating a brand. Back in 2011 is when it all started! She was in her freshman year of undergrad at LIU Brooklyn with a double major in Business Marketing/Management when she got her “ah-ha” moment. Sonya figured, why not implement everything she was learning in the classroom with the many connections she’d built in school to start her own business! She also went on to get her Masters in Fashion Merchandising and Retail Management to truly better understand all the ins and outs of the business.
IAM.ECCENTRIC is the brand name but it is also commonly known as IME; not only is IME an abbreviation but it also means, I AM ME. As Sonya explains, “it is a lifestyle that promotes the message of having the freedom of expression towards being yourself. IME simply means to be unapologetically you.” It was only natural for Sonya to start designing streetwear since she’s always been, tomboy. Her personal style is very cozy. If she can’t go out and be just that, chances are you can catch her in the crib! I’m a huge advocate for wearing whatever your heart desires, just do you! I agreed 100% with Sonya when she mentioned, “Your style is a representation of you and conversations that are initiated without you even speaking. Your personal style speaks for you so I try my best to keep my message cohesive with me as a person.“
We all know this industry is largely dominated by men, so Sonya wanted to shake things up and create a brand that targeted the youth, specifically. Clothing isn’t all that IME does. Sonya wants to get back to making custom jewelry, everything from necklaces, earrings, etc. Her homegirl bamboo earrings were, without hesitation, one of her favorite pieces to-date! When Sonya was in high school, some of the fliest brands like Married to the Mob, Bape, BBC / Ice Cream, Hellz Bellz, The Hundreds, and Melody Ehsani, were just getting their shine! They each inspired her, showing how brands can start off so modest but then turn into a lifestyle. While gaining creative inspiration from these streetwear brands who came before, Sonya also leans on her family, friends, and her interests to help be key components throughout the entire design process. On a level much deeper than the surface, she can undoubtedly dig into her art and understand not only how what she’s creating makes her feel and also how others will respond.
Keeping the inner child alive is what IME is all about. Just because you’re an adult, doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun and enjoy cartoons. They’ve done a Sailor Moon collection, as well as their most recent which was Powerpuff Homegirls. When I first came across IME, I initially saw the Powerpuff Homegirls Hoodie and I was in love! They aren’t the regular Buttercup, Blossom, and Bubbles you’re used to; they are melanin-filled with fros and curls to match, showing the importance of representation because yes, women of color are super powerful too. Sonya’s favorite shows back in the day were X Men, Sailor Moon, Powerpuff Girls, Dexter Laboratory, Courage the Cowardly Dog and the list goes on!
Homegirls, how many of us have them? I have a handful and am so blessed to have them all in my life. I try to support each and every one of them and their businesses every chance I get, even if it’s just with a repost, retweet, or sharing their info with someone else. Even women, especially women of color, I may not know personally, but see them grinding or creating something dope, it’s only right to support in some way! If you go on IME’s Instagram and site, you’ll see, #HomegirlsSupportingHomegirls, all over it but it’s so much more than a hashtag. Using context clues, you can probably grasp what it’s all about but Sonya really breaks it down…
“It is a lifestyle and a sanctuary for females worldwide to feel like they have somewhere they can come together and not feel alone. For example, if a fellow homegirl whether I know them personally or not DM’s me for Homegirl Advice, if I have the chance to reply I’ll converse with them and give them game from one homegirl to the next. Little gestures like these are very important to me because we live in a society where I feel that we are not supposed to help each other and not want to see another female win. But that’s the misconception, we can ALL win and sometimes the only thing that’s holding a homegirl back is knowledge or what I consider game. These are priceless things I have received on my journey, so why not give it back.”
Sonya was taught that by any means necessary, always go after what you want and stand up for what you believe in. A part of being successful in this industry means having a strong backbone, something that comes naturally to her. The way you carry yourself, your aura, and demeanor all play a tremendous role in the way people will perceive you. Respect is just the minimum, so Sonya always carries herself with it but also demands it. She considers herself an alpha woman, which has immensely helped her push forward and grow through any and every adversity that may come her way.
With a lifestyle brand like IME, the possibilities are endless! Sonya plans on doing pop-up tours all over the world. Since the brand isn’t a brick and mortar yet, she wants people to truly experience what the brand is all about, beyond online. The idea of actual stores would be dope too, something that has crossed Sonya’s mind time and time again. Gaining a global presence and building stores worldwide is a goal that I can not wait to see come to fruition! She also will be expanding the HomegirlsSupportingHomegirls Movement by collaborating more with women-led non-profit organizations. There’s so much more coming, like possibly doing her first trade show and other things that we’ll just have to wait and see!
From the ground up is exactly how Sonya has built this brand, this lifestyle, that we see IAM.ECCENTRIC (IME) as today. Using her natural-born talent, skills, and knowledge, she has created a streetwear brand that is bound to be named alongside the ones who came before and inspired her! I’m excited to see what more there is to come and make sure you continue to support a homegirl, every chance you get! Check out their site to get cozy and cute in some new streetwear looks and also follow along on Instagram!
Instagram – @iam.eccentric