Feminism and self empowerment combine with bright colors and pop culture or to create Kansas City’s own Sex + Ice Cream, fashion line led by rising fashion princess, Nicole Leth.
The first time I heard of Sex + Ice Cream was last spring at the 18th Street Fashion Show where Leth’s “Everything I Should Have Said” line graced the runway. Soon, I was seeing Leth’s clothes in the Kansas City Star, Nylon Magazine and all over Instagram. I fell long, greasy hair over my jelly heels for her clothes.
Now, I find myself gabbing about her brand to all of my friends. Most people I have mentioned Sex + Ice Cream to hear the name and go, “Sex + Ice Cream… What?” The name is all part of Leth’s goal to promote the empowerment of women through the expression and messages in her clothes. Leth is a Kansas City Art Institute graduate and started the brand when she was 18, five years ago, after she was dumped.
Sex + Ice Cream features hand painted clothing and direct scans from Leth’s personal diary to document her experiences as a young woman. She encourages people to find healthy outlets to talk about what they are going through, which is what her diary has always been for her. Leth’ clothes are relatable, and tell people that they are worth it by promoting messages such as ‘Grl Pwr.’ Besides having inspirational messages, they’re also cuter than your average Instagram-famous puppy.
On her website Leth writes, “[Sex + Ice Cream] represents a teenage girl chasing her dreams instead of a boy for the first time. It represents a teenage girl believing in herself and understanding her power as a woman for the first time.”
This is the first time I’ve found clothes with messages that speaks to me so deeply while staying bright and fun. I love that with Sex + Ice Cream, I can go from feeling fierce while rocking a Beyonce and Nicki Minaj shirt to flaunting a cute hat that promotes the feminist movement. This versatility and positivity is something I have never found in a brand before.
I finally got to meet Leth after East alumni Fannie Berlau started working with her. Meeting Leth confirmed my suspicions: she is one of the most determined, independent women I have ever met. She lives by the motto of finding the good in everything bad that happens. That positivitytranslates to her brand as well. With shirts that read “In memory of when I cared” and patches that read “MyPsychic Told Me to Stay Away From You,” the clothes scream 1980’s disco with honest storytelling.
“I would describe the clothes as colorful, fun, unique clothes that are for people who wear their heart on their sleeve and like to have a good time,” Leth said. “[People who] are not really afraid of what other people are going to think of them.”
Leth’s most recent project is her “Internet Crush” graphic T-shirt series that features Drake, Beyonce, Nicki Minaj and Justin Bieber. Leth was inspired to create the shirts because of how Drake’s music got her through a breakup she continued to make shirts of whatever icon she is loving at the moment.
The shirts are all Leth’s design and perfect for all our pop culture lovers at East. I mean, who doesn’t love Champagne Papi? And, if you think the Comfort Colors fabric is soft, wait until you feel the fabric her designs are printed on.
For now, you can get Sex + Ice Cream clothes online, but anticipate the store opening May 6 in downtown Kansas City, Missouri to be every bit as outspoken as what I have seen so far. Leth didn’t dream the store would open until she was 30. Now she hopes to do pop up shops or other shops in various parts of the U.S.
I have gotten a sneak peek at the shop. It almost gave me an aesthetically-induced heart attack. From her cute doodles covering the windows to bubble gum pink walls, I don’t think I’ve seen such a put together, chic store, and it’s not even done yet. There is certainly nothing else that compares in Kansas City. Leth’s shirts are already being featured at Raygun, a Kansas City themed store in theCrossroads. Her goal is for it to be a happy escape in the middle of Kansas City.