Feb 26, 2021
8 Brooklyn creatives share their favorite Black-owned pandemic purchases
From totes to t-shirts to peacoats, these styles helped our creatives through a tough time
Black fashion is undergoing a boom in Brooklyn as people increasingly and deliberately seek out Black-owned brands, especially in the wake of 2020’s myriad traumas to the community.
Initiatives like the online marketplace, “Black Fashion Fair,” and “Black in Fashion Council,” which recently held a New York Fashion Week showroom showcasing 16 Black designers, have aided in the exposure of Black-owned fashion brands to the consumer market.
“It’s important that we are supporting Black designers in ways that impact their business,” Antione Gregory, founder and editorial director of Black Fashion Fair, tells me.
I’ve personally cracked open my own small piggy bank to support brands like Richard & Grace, a Texas-based brand designing unique pieces that reflect a Texas-meets-New-York style; and True to Us, a New York-based streetwear brand that is geared towards elevating and normalizing the exposure of Black and Brown women in the streetwear and sneaker industries.
I spoke with eight Brooklyn creatives to ask them about their own favorite Black-owned fashion purchase during the pandemic, their connection to the brand, and where to shop the look.
Name: Antione Gregory
Gig: Founder of Black Fashion Fair
Based in: Bed-Stuy
Favorite pandemic purchase: A custom matching bowling shirt with embroidery and coordinating trouser set from Brooklyn-based clothing brand Theophilio.
Antoine says: Edvin Thompson of Theophilio is one of my favorite emerging designers right now, and I really wanted to own something from his label. We collaborated on customizing this set with embroidery, and perfecting the pant’s slit specifically for my boots! I had the idea of having the pieces embroidered with my initials on the collar. I love that each piece can work great together or separately. This is actually my second and favorite set I have purchased from the label.
Name: Simi M.
Based in: Williamsburg
Favorite pandemic purchase: This pair of pants from London-based Rouhi. Co, a London-based brand that specializes in handmade exclusive pieces.
Simi says: It’s a pair of pants that not only fit me well, but are comfortable. Finding this brand was so exciting for me because not only was it an opportunity for me to support Black-owned brands, it was an opportunity for me to wear something that feels good on my body by accentuating my curves. The best part is the hand-crafting.
Name: Alexandra Berrocal
Gig: Content creator and model
Based in: Bed-Stuy
Favorite pandemic purchase: A Special Edition LIV Cozy Crewneck from Livstreetwear, a New York-based streetwear brand by Alabama native designer, Olivia Anthony.
Alexandra says: My sweatshirt from Livstreetwear is one of my favorite pieces of the season. I love that it is super comfortable to lounge in at home while also being elevated enough to style for outdoors. Given the times, loungewear is a huge category that many brands are trying to tap into. Livstreetwear has been holding this category down, and will continue to beyond the pandemic. That is why I will always spend my dollars there. It’s important for all of us to support small brands, especially now.
Name: Danile “DJ” R. Jones Jr.
Based in: Bed-Stuy
Favorite pandemic purchase: A custom made yellow peacoat from Garçon Couture, a New York-based menswear brand that specializes in bespoke clothing, founded by personal stylist duo Jean Francillon and Ilbert J. Sanchez.
Danile says: I met Ilbert and Gilly a few years ago, who are Caribbean and from New York like myself. Just witnessing their journey is so inspiring each day. I know they will continue to grow, and reach a higher level soon. Both brothers are amazing and in tune with every garment they create.
Name: Elle Winston
Based in: Bed-Stuy
Favorite pandemic purchase: The Chocolate Medium Shopping Bag from Telfar, a Brooklyn-based unisex fashion brand by designer, Telfar Clemons.
Elle says: I don’t typically consider myself someone who shops based on fashion trends, and that’s certainly reflected in the fact that most of my wardrobe is secondhand, but there are some special exceptions. I’d had my eye on the chocolate Telfar bag for quite some time, and for Christmas last year, my wife surprised me with it. Though I may not have anywhere to go with this beautiful bag just yet, on most days, seeing it sitting in my closet patiently awaiting a trip upstate, is enough to keep me hopeful. Soon enough sweetheart!
Name: Evelyn Jean-Francois
Gig: Lifestyle blogger
Based in: East Flatbush
Favorite pandemic purchase: A custom art designed jumpsuit by Pierre Jean-Baptiste, of P.Studios, a multidisciplinary artist based in New York. Evelyn’s jumpsuit is a custom art piece, but Pierre’s other fits are available through a recent partnership with New York-based fashion brand, Tier NYC.
Evelyn says: This Levi’s jumpsuit might’ve been purchased from a retailer, but when I placed it in the hands of Haitian American artist Pierre Jean-Baptiste’s hands and he returned it to me, she was Black-owned. I gave Pierre a blank denim canvas right before quarantine began with permission to do as he pleased with the creative direction of his artwork. When I finally got it back I connected to it so quickly because it was so specific to who I was. On the backside is a tree with beautiful leaves, and even a few sunflowers sprouting from the base. He expressed that he painted a tree as an honor to Black women, and how strong we stand. Receiving this piece was special to me because at times during quarantine, it felt like time was simply passing me by. The message and artwork that I get to wear on my body remind me that I stand strong, beautiful, nourishing, and the fruit I produce grows sweeter by the day.
Name: Brandon “OUT.OF.OFFICE” Dixon
Gig: DJ & director of operations and e-commerce for Racquet Magazine
Based in: Bed-Stuy
Favorite pandemic purchase: The PBW “Proud Black Women” Lavender Hoodie from Barriers, a New York-based streetwear label.
Brandon says: When we were in the heap of quarantine I was hugely influenced by Maya Angelou for a lot of my projects, and I initially was on the hunt for a piece that speaks to her art and history. Once I came across this Barriers piece and found that not only did they pay homage to her in a very royal way, but also to some of our culture’s most prominent and powerful women—Assata Shakur, Angela Davis, and Kathleen Cleaver—I knew this was it. The meticulous details in the hoodie are amazing; hand dyed to a deep lavender with a reversible interior with an excerpt from Maya Angelou’s poem “Still I Rise”. This piece will stand the test of time hands down.
Name: Yolande Macon
Gig: Fashion & lifestyle content creator
Based in: Stuyvesant Heights
Favorite pandemic purchase: Her ESR Tote in purple from Brandon Blackwood, a New York-Based Brooklyn-based handbag and accessories brand by Jamaican Chinese designer, Brandon Blackwood.
Yolande says: This tote is straight to the point. From its sleek, purple satin design to its clear message, End Systematic Racism, this bag was 100 percent for me! In 2021, I am no longer making racism, especially systematic racism, comfortable because it’s not. If you see me with this bag, then you know exactly what I’m about when it comes to change for my culture in this world.
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