Career: Designer and artist
Hometown: Brooklyn, New York. I moved to Des Moines in late 2022 with my wife and two children.
How would you describe your style? Hood-formal. When I first got into design, I wanted to make suits and dresses. But my demographic wasn’t really into that. I went to a prep school, so my friends there were already wearing uniforms and collared shirts, and they didn’t want to wear more of that. My friends in my neighborhood dressed more urban, so they weren’t into it either. I decided to mix those two aesthetics into “hood-formal.” Things you could wear to work but also wear when you’re off work, like an urban suit.
Style icons and inspirations: When I first got into fashion in high school, two of my biggest inspirations were André 3000 [half of hip-hop duo Outkast] and Alexander McQueen [the British fashion designer for his own label and Givenchy]. But now I find inspiration everywhere in my surroundings.
Favorite item of clothing: I have this pair of patchwork pants that I made in, like, 2018. The very first night I wore them, the pants ripped and I never fixed them. I know how to sew and have fabric to mend it, but I want to keep the hole. I put on pajamas underneath and wear them.
Why did you found Afrooklyn? I’ve been designing clothing since 2009. I’ve had different brand names, aesthetics and identities, but nothing really clicked. I went to Senegal in 2014 and it was so cool. But I got really homesick. Afrooklyn came about because of that — Africa and Brooklyn — as sort of a passageway between. I wanted to be a bridge between the African diaspora and this urban community.
How did that influence your designs? I was inspired by a lot of the African printed fabric known as “kitenge,” “mudcloth” or “Ankara” prints. I wanted to bring that into the urban style we have here, mixing the aesthetic of rappers and designer brands with the more traditional garb like the dashiki. A suit in Africa looks different than it does here.
Photographer: Joelle Blanchard
Writer: Hailey Allen
Location: Art Terrarium