Last August, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took to Instagram sporting Teflar’s buzzed-about”It” bag. The brand’s medium Oxblood shopping bag wasn’t just a fashion statement for Ocasio-Cortez—it was a political one, too.”Fun fact. Telfar is now known as a globally celebrated designer, but did you know this Black, LGBTQ+ designer and founder got their start in Lefrak City, Queens?” AOC wrote.
Dr. Biden hasn’t worn Telfar at the White House yet—we’ll have to wait and see—but she certainly isn’t ignoring fashion here at home. It’s an industry that employs an estimated 1.8 million people in the United States alone, 232,000 of whom work in manufacturing textiles. At last Wednesday’s 46th Presidential Inauguration, she assumed the role of FLOTUS while championing an independent American-made brand by Alexandra O’Neill.
Originally from a rural town in Colorado, O’Neill, 34, founded her label, Markarian, in New York City in 2017. The designer’s 94-year-old grandmother, Gigi, taught her how to sew using a vintage 1950s Singer sewing machine. Today, O’Neill runs her business with an intimate team of four full-time employees, headquartered out of her Greenwich Village apartment. Her ethereal, special-occasion pieces are produced locally, using resources that exist within a 3-mile radius of her home office.