Black, Queer Fashion Designer Honors Diversity in His Work

MILWAUKEE (SPECTRUM NEWS) — There’s rarely a time when Milwaukee-based fashion designer Laurence Andrew isn’t creating something.

He’s the designer and founder of Ratchet Luxury, a clothing line. Andrew said he wanted to pay tribute to his love of high fashion and his African-American roots.

“The term ‘ratchet’ a lot of times has a very negative connotation, but it’s also always associated with urban culture,” Andrew said. “What I wanted to do was take a name that’s not necessarily associated with the best and turn around and give it power.”

Andrew identifies as queer and said his clothing line is a message to young boys and girls who may think their dreams are too out of reach.

“I wanted to do this for other young boys and girls like myself,” he said. “Those who grew up and have all these big crazy dreams and they seem like they’re unattainable.”

Andrew said the way he expresses activism and the need for change is through art. He noted his brand is very timely, given the protesting for Black lives happening across the country.

“Nina Simone has a quote that I love and she says, ‘As an artist, you need to reflect the times’ and I’m definitely doing that with this brand,” he said.

His talent has given him opportunities to work with celebrities such as Toni Braxton, Keyshia Cole, and Jenny McCarthy.

Andrew said that while growing up, he was always made aware of his differences. Now, he said it’s those differences that have given him the power to succeed.

“I probably wouldn’t be here without those differences and I celebrate them both equally, my blackness, my queerness,” Andrew said. “They’re both equal parts of me.”

His supportive family and close relationship with his mom, Donna Matlock, are what he calls “his anchor.”

“I’m his number one fan,” Matlock said. “Not just in his fashion designs am I supportive, but also in his endeavors of being a mentor to the LGBTQ+ community.”

To learn more about him and Ratchet Luxury, click here.

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