06/13/2022 by

SO.TY, a neo luxe neo luxe sustainable circular fashion brand, launched this month in Los Angeles as part of Sovereignty Company, a social enterprise and not-for-profit set to realize a diverse, inclusive, equitable, prosperous, and circular fashion society for BIPOC communities. SO.TY is led by sought-after fashion designer Charles Harbison who has dressed notable celebrities like Beyonce, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Ava Duvernay. The brand seeks to define neo luxe as a movement that combines eco responsibility, gender affirmation, size inclusivity, and race and class equity to infuse thoughtfulness into the business of luxury goods.

Motivated by his own experience as a millennial designer trying to break through in fashion as well as questioning fast fashion's focus on rapidly changing trends and styles, Harbison teamed up to create SO.TY with Corneil Montgomery of Sovereignty Company, a first-of-its-kind circular social enterprise and not-for-profit that recently launched in Los Angeles. SO.TY focuses on sustainability and inclusiveness and features an innovative line of eco-friendly clothing that incorporates clean, unique design elements made from reusable materials. The neo luxe fashion brand will donate four percent of the proceeds to Sovereignty Company to help fund the Fashion CEOs Accelerator, which provides resources to fashion designers and fashion entrepreneurs to design and launch their own sustainable and circular business models.

"Sovereignty is honored to partner with Charles and the SO.TY brand to bring designers of color into the spotlight and help elevate the stories that deserve to be represented and heard," says Neil Montgomery, founder and chief executive officer of Sovereignty Fashion CEOs Accelerator. "Our mission, vision and purpose align perfectly to create an even stronger impact."

The SO.TY team and their shared values and distinct perspectives distinguish the business from other neo luxury brands. 

"The SO.TY team represents what we believe neo luxe stands for and where we want to take it," says Charles Harbison, chief fashion director for SO.TY. "Every team member adds a perspective that is important to our mission. We have women, people of Color, black people of color, and people raised poor working with us to reach our goals. They define the thought leadership that in turn defines our work."

The line represents identities that frequently go ignored or underrepresented, and Harbison wants to raise those identities into the spotlight through design, fair business practices, and fair wages. Both his designs and his ethos are heavily influenced by his upbringing.

As a working-class son of working class women in North Carolina, Harbison has stories to tell and convey about witnessing strength, choice and self-defined elegance. In September 2021 he wrote about his influences and inspirations for The Atlantic in Always the Gold Sandal, and the stories live on through his SO.TY designs.

The clothing can be thought of as a feminist take on menswear or gender-neutral clothing that women can choose to opt into. It is feminine influenced and queer affirming. Through his optimistic and colorful designs, Harbison references the unapologetic dignity and elegance that was modeled by his mother and grandmother. The fashion line includes pieces like a bomber jacket reimagined in fuchsia pink and basketball shorts and tanks adorned with sequins playing off the irony of taking things that are defined as masculine and hard and rendering them playful and soft.

Staying true to the commitment to sustainability and circularity, the pieces will be constructed using recycled polyester, organic cotton, low water use fiber, recycled polyester fill and will be manufactured locally in Los Angeles. SO.TY will focus on sourcing surplus, dead stock and vintage fabrics.  

SO.TY will become available in wholesale markets in June and July and will launch an e-commerce site later this year.