*Surviving physical trauma is difficult unto itself. When you include sexual assault and our tendency as a society to silence the victim, it makes someone that is dealing with the realities of those hard situations feel like there is no positive escape outside of enduring the pain.
Tasha Biltmore, an award winning playwright known for attacking complex stories that include her personal story of rape and domestic abuse, has created a reality show called ‘The House of Damaged’ and an accompanying fashion line called, ‘Damaged Cloths.’
‘The House of Damaged’ is a reality show that takes survivors of abuse and shows them that they can rise from their negative situations. Biltmore’s idea for the show includes viewers writing in their stories of abuse and being selected for lunch and a full fashion makeover with stylist and other specially invited celebrity guest.
Biltmore also realizes that men are damaged too. They have teamed up with former NFL player Pete Shaw who will be bringing in his celebrity guests to talk to the men about their abuse and making them feel more comfortable about talking about their family member’s abuse as well as their own. Kenneth Edward “Pete” Shaw played eight seasons for the San Diego Chargers and the New York Giants.
In the design of its fashions, Biltmore and her Damaged Girls attempts to manipulate the concept of abuse and the resistance to abuse and fashion it into a portal towards a positive future. The House of Damaged website, Houseofdamaged.com explains it as, ‘A series of holes, chains and pins with a dash of bling to bring you a unique and meaningful fashion design.’
Damaged Clothes fashions attempts to represent resistance to the negativity of abuse. The site goes on the say, “When you purchase a piece from the damaged clothes collection you are standing up and saying, ‘No more,’ to the abuse.”
“At Damaged, we are dedicated to creating awareness and a solid platform that speaks out against violence,” adds Biltmore. “Damaged Clothes originated from the designer’s personal pain. Every 9 seconds, someone is abused, and I was one of them.”
Biltmore’s approach to fashion offers a unique perspective shown through the lens of a survivor of violence. Silky and smooth fabrics are torn, reconnected, and then represented in new and appealing ways. Non-traditional fabrics, such as the thick cotton from a sweat suit, are cut in sleek sophistication that results in an alluring and more modern look. Traditional sports wear is refined into a more aesthetically pleasing presentation that is somewhat beguiling. This fashion, as the case with most new lines, must be inserted into the buyers existing wardrobe and style consideration must be taken into context. However, as individual pieces, Biltmore’s concept of donning “protective wear” and turning it into fashionable, eye-catching pieces has been accomplished.
Moving towards a full line of clothing is not an easy task and most designers take the approach of putting their line together piece by piece and Biltmore is smart in choosing this more conservative approach. Keeping initial costs down by limiting the number of items available during the first run, while simultaneously focusing heavily on the look and quality of those pieces has placed the Damaged Clothes line in a strong position. This approach has brought initial success for the start up brand since its grand opening of its online store in early December 2017. Having accessory items like fitted caps and logo t-shirts to accentuate the many ‘Tee Dresses’ available frees up the consumer by allowing her to match the color and style with items she already has in her wardrobe. This results in purchases that are both affordable and interchangeable.
Rounding out the line is a series of footwear that coincide with the ‘Damaged Clothing’ mantra of recombined and refurbished “protective” wear that sports unconventional materials. Jean boots, see-through materials and various leathers combine to create a nice assortment of styles to choose from. Although, all the footwear sports stiletto heels, as an initial line, the Damaged Clothes selection is impressive.
One interesting pair is the ‘Damaged Bootie.’ The ‘Damaged Bootie’ is a mid cut boot encased in bright blue jean material and sporting a faux peep toe as well as an open heel. The material at the top of the boot, covering the ankle, is frayed to mimic fur. Coupling this boot with the Damaged ‘Silver-Chained Top,’ a jean skirt, or pair of shorts allows you to be fashionable walking in or out of any situation.
Unlike most entrepreneurs, Biltmore doesn’t try to create the Damaged brand alone. She has teamed up with other Damaged Girls who specialize in the various aspects of the fashion and entertainment industry. One of those women is fashion designer Christi Anderson, who is the idea engine behind most of the visual wear.
Biltmore plans to add a men’s wear line in early 2018.
“There are allot of things that are not quite right in our clothing,” explains Biltmore, “but that is how we designed it. We are all damaged. But when you put on a damaged shirt, a damaged jacket, you are letting the world know, ‘I’m damaged, but I’m still here!”
In addition to taking young women and uplifting their lives in her reality show or creating fashions that inspire strength, Biltmore has created an arena where everyone involved shares their personal stories of abuse. These are professional women, who upon first glance, don’t seem like victims of any type of assault, but as they explain their stories, the emotion erodes their confidence and you begin to understand that all that strength is just a facade. Inside them is pain caused by the event. As each piece of pain is released, a burden is uplifted. With each story, and as each layer of strength is peeled off, the realness of each woman’s situation is exposed and their true strength becomes apparent.
“I suffered in silence for years,” explained singer and playwright Karen Robinson about her domestic abuse and her reluctance to tell her family for fear of how they might react. “I just wanted him to love me the way I loved him.” Continued Robinson, but as her story continued it became apparent that that love was reciprocated with violence. “I’m here to let you know that you are not alone. Leave. Get out while you can. No one deserves to be in an abusive relationship. I am so glad that I did.”
The House of Damaged presents a way that other women can see that they are not alone and there is a way out of even the worst situations.
“With Damaged Clothing, you can take something so damaged, and make it so beautiful,” explains Biltmore.
The House of Damaged Reality Show is currently looking for a network to call home. For more information about Damaged Girls, go to www.houseofdamaged.com.