Chicago Designer Merges Graphic Design & Fashion to Create Unique Clothing Line

Monday, 03 September 2012 18:04 Written by  Iya Bakare

Chicago designer Shemeka Buckner adds purity to the fashion scene with her line Kiyoko Linden. With a name derived from a Japanese word that means “pure child” and a sacred tree referenced in the Bible, she makes a statement that says she’s not the average plus-size clothing line. Shemeka’s says her work and her mission are cut from a different cloth.

“I didn’t want a typical name to represent my clothing line,” she adds. “Kiyoko Linden creates one-of-a-kind pieces that aren’t duplicated and work for urban and trendy full-figured women. I want women who wear my pieces to look and feel comfortable, confident, sexy and trendy all at the same time.”

Inspired by the work of Japanese fashion designer Issey Miyake, the Columbia College Chicago (CCC) alum earned her undergraduate degree in graphic design in 2004, but says since she was in eighth grade, she dreamed of designing clothes. Shemeka says she emerged in the fashion scene in 2001, but it wasn’t until a few years later that she fully developed her identity in the business.

“I listened to my parents and other adults in my life because they wanted me to pursue a career with computers,” Shemeka comments. “But, I love seeing the runways, cameras and lights. I also love seeing the expressions and emotions of people when they put on certain pieces of clothing.”

A few fashion classes at CCC weren’t enough for her. With an eye for fashion and an aspiration for a more artistic side for her career, the Chicago-native attended the Illinois Institute of Art for two years. Shemeka married her graphic design background with her fashion education and gave birth to Kiyoko Linden. Like her inspiration, Shemeka uses shapes and different textiles to play with pleats and other patterns in her designs.

As she continues to design her wearable art, Shemeka says she will remain supportive of her hometown and build her brand locally, and won’t shy away from Kiyoko Linden in national and international markets.

Visit Kiyoko Linden’s website at and follow her on Twitter at @KIYOKOLINDEN.


Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare

Iya Bakare, GMO's managing editor, earned both her Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in print journalism. She earned her B.A. from Delta State University with a minor in English and graduated with a M.A. degree from Columbia College Chicago. In her spare time, the Chicago native continues to freelance and ponder ways to both inform and improve her community one story at a time.

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