Streetwear designer and fiber artist Chelsea Billingsley (Chelsea B.) innovatively combines streetwear fashion with the skill of crochet, creating a fresh, unique take on design.

Billingsley’s most recent fashion show “Give Them Their Flowers,” took place in October at WNDR Museum, and featured fellow Chicago designers Des Money of fashion brand We All We Got, Olu of Prgssn, and Andrew Hong of We Each Belong

As the title suggests, “Give Them Their Flowers,” was a fashion show in which Billingsley paid homage to those who came before her. The show was dedicated to Billingsley’s great-uncle Spurgeon Jake Winters and her great grandmother, Pauline Winters. Spurgeon Jake Winters was a member of the Illinois Chapter of the Black Panther Party and Pauline Winters, the only other individual in her family to pick up a crochet hook.

See recap of Give Them Their Flowers below

An Englewood native, Chelsea B.,26, grew up a creative savant. No ordinary child, Billingsley didn’t watch cartoons, but instead took an interest in HGTV, a network that primarily focuses on reality home improvement shows. When she wasn’t watching tv, she was accompanied by a sketchbook which held countless doodles and sketches of her mind’s inner workings.

Billingsley also expressed a passion for modeling as a child. As she told TheTRiiBE, “I didn’t really talk much. When it came to fashion, that’s where you could get me to truly express myself. To bring out my confidence, my mom put me in different modeling programs.” This love for fashion came from yet another show that would have a young Chelsea B. glued to the screen, Tyra Banks’ America’s Next Top Model. 

 Along with creating her own pieces,  Billingsley enjoys modeling her work, a natural inclination  for the one-time America’s Next Top Model hopeful.  

“Now these brands that I’ve always dreamed of working with, they’re not reaching out to me to be just a model, they’re reaching out to me to be a creative,” she said. “The cherry on top is that I can model it.”

Chelsea B's work is colorful and playful. It brings a creative feel to the art of crochet. Photo by Ash Lane for The TRiiBE®

Now, as one of Chicago’s top designers, Billingsley’s pieces have gained more notoriety. Her designs have been worn on 2022’s season of RuPaul’s Drag Race All-Stars by Monét X, as well as being sported by notable artists such as Flo Milli, Baby Tate, and Coi Leray.

While she’s gained popularity with her unique style, the possibility of scaling up is still something Billingsley aspires to do. All of her work is done by hand, and while she has used the help of other crochet experts at times, no one’s style compares to the unique style she possesses. 

”I’m still, to this day, doing probably 95 percent of the work,” she said. “It’s not easy just yet because we don’t have a crochet machine. Engineers haven’t come up with that type of technology yet so you know, we still have to utilize the makers.” 

Till then, teaming up with brands with world wide appeal has been on Billingsley’s agenda. Collabing with the likes of Remy Martin, Footlocker, WNBA, and Nike’s 2023 Jordan Women’s Collection has kept her busy.

In her studio, Chelsea B is wearing a few of her custom hand crochet pieces. Photo by Ash Lane for The TRiiBE®

“On the Jordan women’s collective you have a combination of artists, nail tech stylists, etc. I’m the youngest creative on their collective,” Billingsley said.

The impact the Jordan Brand has had on the landscape of fashion has been iconic, but to Chicagoans, the jumpman signal is an actual way of life. Billingsley’s previous work with Nike put her in a position to collaborate with the Jordan Brand –  “I think this relationship had to be built,” she said.

Billingsley is the designer behind the Nike Air Max 90 “Notra,” which released in the summer of 2022. “I’m making history. As a fiber artist out of Chicago, a black girl working with Nike and Jordan and creating a name for myself and creating a layman’s space within streetwear and sneaker culture, that’s not heard of.”

While Billingsley was hesitant to give any details about upcoming releases with the Jordan Brand, she did allude to working on apparel, as well as designing shoes for the iconic brand, and plans for future campaigns with the WNBA. Billingsley also disclosed that she will be presenting new designs in January, when she will be featured in the Soundpost & Chicago Symphony Orchestra fashion show.

is a culture correspondent with The TRiiBE.