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Bishme Cromartie: From 'Project Runway' Triumph to Redefining Fashion

Bishme Cromartie
Photo Credit: Sophy Holland/Bravo)

On Thursday, September 7, Bishme Cromartie was named the winner of Bravo's Project Runway All Stars. His journey from the streets of Baltimore to the pinnacle of the fashion world is nothing short of remarkable. His ascent in the industry has been defined by creativity, authenticity and a commitment to pushing boundaries.

Bishme always wanted to participate in Project Runway. To him, it was more than just a reality show; it was an opportunity to showcase his talent and passion for fashion to the world. "To be a part of my season 17 was truly an honor," he reflects, adding that being asked to return for "All Stars" was mind-blowing. Bishme believes that the universe prepares us for what we subconsciously desire, and his journey is a testament to that.

Check out our interview with the Project Runway All Stars Season 20 winner.

Your design aesthetic is often described as a fusion of avant-garde and streetwear influences. How do these two contrasting styles come together in your creations, and what do they reflect about your personal perspective on fashion?

I think that I’ve always loved the idea of mixing my streetwear design aesthetic with my avant-garde side. I used to separate them in collections. I would do either or, rather than combining both. I feel now that I’m comfortable with my masculine and feminine sides, it influences how I approach my designs.

Bishme Cromartie
Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/Bravo

Project Runway was a significant platform that introduced you to a broader audience. How did your experience on the show impact your growth as a designer, and what were the key takeaways that continue to influence your work today?

My experience on the show impacted my growth as a designer, by introducing me to people who may not have heard of my brand before. I have so many ideas but I do not get enough time in my everyday practice to explore as much as Project Runway allows us. I feel the key take always from the show that influences my work now, is that sometimes less is more. Learning how to refrain from doing too much lol.

You've had the opportunity to design garments for prominent artists like Lizzo, Saweetie and Jennifer Hudson. How does it feel to see your creations worn by such influential figures, and how do you balance your unique design vision with their individual styles?

I honestly am always thankful when I get a chance to dress anyone, Celebs are the cherry on top! When it comes to designing for anyone, you want to make sure you are making the client happy. But it’s a great thing to always add yourself into the design no matter what. I think the key is balance.

Establishing a direct-to-consumer e-commerce platform is a bold move. Could you tell us about your motivation behind this decision and how it aligns with your creative vision for fashion accessibility?

I think the idea of providing directly to my consumers is exciting. I’m motivated by the actual ideal vision I have for my shopping experience. I’ve reached out to buyers before and no one responded lol. So instead of asking I told myself I would just go through the unknown.

Bishme Cromartie
Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/Bravo

Your sister's passing must have been a profound and challenging experience. How has her memory influenced your creative process and the way you approach your work, especially on your journey to make her proud on "Project Runway”?

My sister truly helped me chase my dreams at an early age. She instilled in me the truth that anything is possible. No matter what. I honestly hold that to my heart and use it for any and everything. Have to remind myself that she’s with me and she sees the work that I’m doing.

Representation is a significant topic in the fashion industry, and you stand as a prominent Black designer. How do you see your role in shaping perceptions of Black men in the fashion world, and what changes would you like to see in the industry's approach to diversity and inclusion?

I feel that my role is to continue being who am while growing and exploring. The more I am able to learn the more I’m able to provide suggestions or the answers to those who look like me. I didn’t grow up seeing a black man as a fashion designer. I saw us in sports and music. Opening up the ideas to what we are capable of is always my objective. I wish I could say what I would like to see in the fashion industry but I think it’s better to just do your own thing and figure out your own formula and continue to work with those who support your vision.

Bishme Cromartie
Photo Credit: Zach Dilgard/Bravo

Balancing artistic expression with commercial viability is a constant challenge for designers. How do you navigate this delicate balance, and what advice would you give to emerging designers seeking to maintain their artistic integrity while building a successful brand?

I think no matter how extreme you design, it’s important to think about how can this function for the everyday person. Being able to showcase my creative side is amazing, but it’s a must to create a version or a piece that compliments your designs in a simple way.

Looking ahead, what are your aspirations for the future of your brand and your impact on the fashion industry, particularly in terms of promoting diversity, creativity, and innovation?

Looking ahead, I aim to continue growing my team and my knowledge on running a fashion business. I have a lot planned and I’m in a place in my life where I’d rather show than tell. It took a lot to get here and it’s going to take even more to get where I would like to see the industry at. We must build solid foundations with those who get us In Order to make an impact.

Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring fashion designers, especially young Black men, who are navigating the challenges of breaking into the industry and making their mark in a competitive landscape?

One thing I would say to young Black men is never allow yourself to play small. There’s something amazing within us and the only way to unlock it is to fully be yourself. The more we are able to explore who we are as people. The more we will fall into the paths that are meant for us.


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