Will Detroit fashion designer make the cut as a contestant on HBO’s 'The Hype'?

Inkster native and fashion designer Paije Speights is a contestant on the HBO Max series, The Hype. - Q11 Photography
Q11 Photography
Inkster native and fashion designer Paije Speights is a contestant on the HBO Max series, The Hype.

HBO Max’s new streetwear competition show, The Hype, has brought a taste of Detroit with Inskter native and fashion designer Paije Speights.

The Hype consists of 10 contestants who display their culture in streetwear with the winner taking home a grand prize of $150,000.

Speights' passion for fashion can be traced back to her days spent singing, dancing, and playing dress-up with her family as a child. She got her fashion start designing and making items not carried in retail stores. It wasn't until Speights took a leap into fashion design.

“I really started out by making my own items that I just wanted to wear and couldn’t find in the store,” said Speights. “What drives me is just my passion for it, I love creating the next thing.”

Speights uses urban culture as a source of inspiration for her brand. Her designs emphasize Detroit culture, which have been on full display throughout her time competing on The Hype. Speights describes her brand as “hood couture,” taking streetwear designs and mixing them with high fashion.

“I would take what I would see on the runway and see celebrities wearing it and try to make it my own because I couldn’t always afford it,” Speights said.“I try to take something masculine and put my spin on it. Take something hood and street and make it sexy.”

Speights credits luck as the reason for her involvement on The Hype as she was invited to show off her hood couture after she was contacted by a talent scout to join the team of hopefuls on the reality competition series.

“I was lucky because I rarely check my emails myself,” said Speights. “It was the last week to actually send in a tape. So I’m glad I checked it when I did.”

The Hype premiered on Aug. 12 on the HBO streaming service and out the gate, Speights has received accolades and praise from the show’s panelists and co-signers, which include Migos rapper Offset, designer Bephie Birkett, and celebrity stylist and costume designer Marni Senofonte. Other guest designer panelists include notable names like rapper Cardi B and Bobby Hundreds, founder of the streetwear brand The Hundreds. In the fifth episode, Speights won a challenge for her powerful Black Lives Matter piece.

“I’m just tired of going on the Internet seeing Black people being killed,” she says on the show regarding police killing Black people. “I feel like yesterday we had a whole little victory about the whole case, and then not even hours later, you go on the Internet and then you see a 15-year-old-girl being murdered so it’s just tiring.”

Speights is emotional when talking about her young Black son eventually becoming a Black man in a country where 1 in 1,000 Black men are killed by the hands of police. As a result, Speights sewed her emotions into her design, and the panel was moved by its powerful message.

The piece consisted of a skirt with a matching grey hoodie that features dripping black blood to represent those Black lives taken by police. The hood has a message that reads, “Black Blood is Not Priceless, It’s Pricey.” The word “Pricey” is a stamp of her brand. She put the hoodie on StockX, and it sold out quickly.

Speights says her experience on the show has been positive, even though it is a high stress competition.

“I’ve learned so much. Obviously under the circumstances it was also super stressful but it really did push me to be the best designer I could be,” said Speights. “I’ve gained so many good connections and the platform is huge.”

You can find Speights’ designs on frontpaijedesigns.com and on her Instagram.

You can watch The Hype on HBO Max with new episodes every Thursday.

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