by MIKE CHAIKEN
Headlines in the news transformed a young actor from Bristol into a purveyor of fashion with a mission.
Caleigh Lozito, a 23 year old professional actor in Astoria, N.Y., launched her fashion brand, Solidarity Styles, in May.
The Bristol native wasn’t drawn toward fashion at that time. But, like many in America, she saw the tape of the attack on George Floyd by Minnesota police officers. That moment reinvigorated the Black Lives Matter movement.
It also reinvigorated the activist spirit of Lozito, a graduate of Western Connecticut State University where she majored in musical theater.
“Just agreeing that ‘Black Lives Matter’ wasn’t enough, I had to do more,” said Lozito, who is white. “I began going to peaceful protests, speaking out on social media in solidarity and doing weekly fundraisers on my Instagram stories to raise money for various Black causes.”
“But,” Lozito explained, “the whole idea of Solidarity Styles came from wanting to start tie dying, as to give me something to do during this pandemic… It gave me a way of turning a hobby into activism.”
However, Lozito said, “A frivolous hobby didn’t feel right… With police brutality and the violence against people of color finally getting the attention it deserved by the media I began to think, feel, and listen a little harder than before… so I decided to add the ‘Solidarity’ inscription and sell my creations for charity in order to give people the opportunity to show their support.”
Putting her money where her mouth, Lozito said proceeds from the sales of the shirts go to “organizations that feed into the Black Lives Matter cause and ethos… For example, the proceeds made from the first round of tie dye (garments) went to Black and Brown Founds and the most recent sales will go to Color of Change.”
Thus far, Lozito said her shirts are only emblazoned with the word, “Solidarity.”
“I really feel that one word can say so much. It stands for unity and ally-ship with people of color,” said Lozito. “I hope that the inscription is a reminder to always stand in solidarity, which requires educating yourself, showing up and making the active choice to learn and grow.”
“We are stronger together and cannot be pushed backward,” said Lozito.
Lozito sees power in a single word, such as “Solidarity.”
“Choosing to use your voice, and your words, to speak out for those who are being silenced is a necessary action, especially in our political climate,” said Lozito. “A word as simple as ‘solidarity’ holds so much power because that in itself shows that you stand ‘united’ with those who are being ‘oppressed.'”
A graduate of St. Paul Catholic High School in Bristol, Lozito has a history of taking up causes.
Her activist streak was inspired by a mission trip to Haiti in 2016 when she spent a week in the summer working at an orphanage.
“When I got back I knew that I needed to do more to help the Haitian people who had taught me so much about life and gratitude,” said Lozito.
Subsequently, the actor recorded a Christmas CD entitled “A Time for Giving.” Proceeds from the CD went to the orphanage, its school and its medical facility.
“My goal in this life is to make as much of a positive change as I can; through activism, and demanding justice for all,” said Lozito.
As for the future of Solidarity Styles, Lozito said she hopes it will “incite curiosity into the social atmosphere surrounding racial injustice.”
“If someone sees one of these shirts and starts to look inward and ask questions, then my goal is achieved,” said Lozito. “When someone wears a Solidarity Styles article of clothing, they are saying ‘I am aware of the current injustice taking place, and I will not be silent.”
Lozito is selling Solidarity Styles over Instagram (@solidaritystyles_)
Model Yashy Dejesus wears a custom-made shirt from Solidarity Styles.
PHOTOS by MIKE CHAIKEN