Portland Is Blessed AF To Have Travante Franklin In Town


In a cluttered stream of #influencers whose feeds resemble a nude calendar-cum-fitness-foodie-blog, 20-year-old Travante Franklin floats stylishly above it all. Interview by Kai Proschan. Photographs and wardrobe by Laurs Kemp.


KP: You're based in Portland, right? Do you like it there?

TR: Portland is a great place to raise kids, but I'm 20 and I want to do something crazy. I just feel like there's kind of a glass ceiling here. There's some stuff for me to do creatively, but I feel like I’ve reached my limit.

KP: Is styling and fashion where your creativity goes, or do you have other projects you're working on?

TR: That's for sure where my creativity goes—simply trying to figure out what to wear every day. Besides that, I'm in school [studying] multimedia, but I'm thinking of changing it up. I've always been a drawer and a painter, and currently I'm in a poetry class. Sometimes I’ll come to class dressed wildly, kind of crazy. The feedback is always great. I'm always finding that people are very encouraging of the weirdos—keep Portland weird! For me, I take great inspiration from the people I see on the street that dress a little kooky, not vanilla. I've been working with a lot of local designers, that’s really important. And there's tons of thrift stores and vintage stores, which is where I find 90% of my clothing. My fashion is kind of all over the place. I don't have a definite style.

KP: But you make it work. 

TR: I do.

KP: What are some of your inspirations?

TR: I pull a lot of my inspiration from early Y2K: low-rise jeans, Von Dutch hats, things like that. There’s also some goth-y things going on sometimes. Some days I feel very ethereal; if I'm wearing linen pants and a silk top—if I’ve got a cream, beige, monochromatic look going then I feel like an ethereal goddess. Then, sometimes I just want to be a natural girl. Jeans and a t-shirt, throw on some lip gloss.

KP: Would you say you gravitate more towards women’s or menswear?

TR: That's a good question. I find that I gravitate towards women's clothing, which I've never really thought about. But anytime I'm shopping it's in the women’s section or a women’s store. It's not intentional. Most of the time I’m drawn to specific pieces. If I pick it up and gasp, I know that’s a sign. I have to have it. When it comes to color my closet is very beige, but I have a few really eccentric pieces, [like this] pair of Roberto Cavalli astrological print pants. They're very Versace-inspired—gold chain, lions. They're so sick.

That’s for sure where my creativity goes—simply trying to figure out what to wear every day.

KP: What do you usually wear with those?

TR: Let's see, what did I wear with them last time I wore them...I wore this black mesh shirt overtop a raggedy biker shirt that says “Ride On Freedom.” I've also paired it with a silk blouse and white leather boots.

KP: Do you think about gender and identity in your art practice?

TR: Gender is important in that it's obviously something that exists in everyone's daily life, we're all categorized. But at the same time, it's very much like, no it doesn't exist and why should it? I've always struggled with that myself. Part of me is like, “Fuck it, gender doesn't matter.” But it does. If it didn't matter, nothing that I do would be important. I have to be breaking down some type of barrier in order for it to matter.

KP: So what do you hope to do or say with the way you dress?

TR: I want to make other people comfortable in their own skin. If I'm doing it, you can do it! I came out of the closet in 6th grade, and by 7th grade I was wearing a tad bit of makeup to school. I was wearing mascara and painting my nails. 8th grade was when I ditched male clothing. I can't remember the last pair of boy jeans I've owned. I'm 20 now, so it's been a long time coming. Also, my sophomore year of high school I was very crop tops, skinny jeans, and lipstick—very Forever 21. Over time, it's been constantly changing. I’ve been collecting all sorts of shit in my closet for no rhyme or reason, just buying it because I love it. I figure it out later.

KP: Where do you get your confidence from?

TR: Coming out at such a young age has forced me to...not to have a thicker skin, but to appreciate that there are things that I am capable of doing and can do that maybe I wouldn't have been able to do if I were still in the closet. Or I would be so much more shy and quiet, and not as expressive. Being out is a great boost to my confidence and self-esteem. Also, I have really supportive parents and siblings who’ve allowed me to be loud and flamboyant and do whatever I want. I love my family.

KP: How do you view your relationship to social media?

TR: Instagram can do really great things for a person if they’re enough of their own person to not let it define them. If you're not very secure in yourself, but you love posting on Instagram, you're probably going to get all of your gratification and sustenance from there. I'm always on Instagram, but I’m able to check out and put it down. I've been around people that can’t do that. I can be like, “Okay, I'm thinking about Instagram too much. Let me calm down, let me read a book.”

That being said, I definitely feel like it’s the platform for me right now. It’s my portfolio, if you will, and I'm just trying to constantly add to it and build it up in the event that someone huge comes by and they're like, “Oh, who's this crazy looking person?” Or even like this, you reaching out to me and having this interview. This has never happened before and that's huge!—