Posts in Fashion
Heavyweight Apparel of NYC

With ideals of empowering America’s marginalized Black community, Paul Bennings' entry is the creation of Heavyweight Apparel of NYC

By Elisha Bennet

A Powerful Ethos

Invoking the powerful status of heavyweight such as Muhammad Ali, Heavyweight Apparel of NYC exalts women for the strength, cultural impact, and sexuality they possess. An impetus stemming from issues regarding contemporary feminism and intersectionality, Heavyweight Apparel of NYC is built to empower women of color and address the issues that they face. Paul directs his models in puissant fashion to exemplify the message of Heavyweight Apparel. Never bashful to exemplify the human form, Paul sees the elation of the body as an extension of the power and confidence that is associated with the traditional heavyweight.

He founded Heavyweight Apparel of NYC in a one-bedroom apartment in Bushwick, Brooklyn with the vision of a brand carrying into a media outlet that represents an Afrocentric worldview that has become disparaged and generalized.

"It's an apparel brand, and that's what it is in its base, but really what I want this to be is a media brand." 

Living in a world where people of color are executed in unabated fashion, Brooklyn is being gentrified, and mass incarceration plagues the community, Paul set out to replace "the global system of racism with a system of justice." Underrepresented and discouraged with a choice of stereotypical representations or Hip-Hop-centric publicans such as XXL, Heavyweight Apparel of NYC takes aim to spread Paul's idiosyncratic worldview through his own apparel line that addresses feminism, racial inequalities, and self-expression.  

It's our narrative and we get to tell it.

Inspiration

Shaped by traveling and defined by New York City, Paul has been instilled with “a deeper perspective along with an appreciation for the culture, my people, and humanity” which parlays into a confidence that characterizes Heavyweight Apparel. Paul spent eight years in the United States Air Force stationed across Southern California, Korea, Italy, and Las Vegas. Seeking more, he spent a stint in the Peace Corp serving Kenya.

"I wanted to do some more traveling, I wasn't ready to settle down. I wanted to see the world. ... I went to Kenya and had the time of my life."

An inclusive worldview attributed to his travels, and Paul finds himself endowed with inspiration to share his worldview.

“I’m able to compare lifestyles and see other ways of living. I’m able to bring those experiences to the brand [Heavyweight Apparel] and show something else."

Realizing a Vision

Paul returned to America and entered art school for graphic design. This provided him the opportunity to draw from ideological influences such as Dr. Cornel West, James Baldwin, and Dr. Marc Lamont Hill. Message-centric and reminiscent of 90's New York City street bills, Heavyweight Apparel is striking. A stylistic amalgam of George Lois Esquire’s magazine covers tempered with Helmut Newton’s and Nobuyoshoi Araki’s imposing portrait photos through a lens of Roc-A-Wear era hip hop. The sum is a street-wear strain that is unmistakably New York City in its tone while invoking the impressions that the world laid onto Paul.

A stylistic amalgam of George Lois Esquire’s magazine covers tempered with Helmut Newton’s and Nobuyoshoi Araki’s imposing portrait photos through a lens of Roc-A-Wear era hip hop.

Paul is now growing his burgeoning brand. Solidified in Heavyweight Apparel of NYC brand, he is putting his sum into realizing his vision.

"It Invokes struggle, triumph, perseverance, resilience, strength, and sex appeal."

 Paul created his brand to give back to his community at large, share his worldview, and prize those around him who don't receive the admiration they deserve. He finds his own part in this battle by seeking out people of color to work with, especially women, to accomplish “my [Paul's] own activism and sense of justice." He pays above the standard rate with what he sees as fair, insisting that it is these efforts that create and shape his brand with the authenticity needed to spread the message of empowerment. 

"I don’t give a fuck. And I’m too old to be scared about trying or failing or looking silly. Everyone else is getting their slice of the pie and I see people going after their dreams, why not go after mine? And besides, I feel like I have a better story to tell than other emerging brands. Other emerging brands take the same pictures; they’re all wearing the same shit, with the same poses but these brands don’t really have a voice. They just have a picture with a “add to cart” button – and that’s it. I think what makes this brand endearing, it’s something that people can relate to – the story of the underdog, the story of redemption, the story of moving forward even in the face of inexplicable odds – that’s my definition of a “Heavyweight!” Now all I have to do is take those elements and add a little bit of 'sexy' to it, and now I have something special and authentic."

 

Check out more of Heavyweight Apparel’s updates. Follow the brand on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Avant-Garde Fashion: a Beautiful Challenge of Social Norms

A movement that began as a beautiful response to rigid social norms. Here, we give you an overview of avant-garde pioneers with further reading sources at the bottom.

written by: Forrest Bloom & J.

The basic purpose of fashion is to protect us from the elements and make us look “good” in the process. Over decades, fashion has developed into a robust art form that give us the opportunity to visually express our emotions. The styles and aesthetics you gravitate to are a reflection of your atavistic self. Whether you agree with them or not, there are social norms that dictate what we should and should not wear. Avant-garde fashion, which is woven together with art and music, is a response to the rigidity of these social norms. It rejects the mainstream for the unique.

 
 
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Yohji Yamamoto

The "Godfather" of avant-garde fashion.

 

Yohji Yamamoto's aesthetic is characterized by gender ambiguity, dark colors, and flowing silhouettes. Upon further inspection, it is easy to notice the authenticity and sense of realism included in each piece of clothing. 

"I simply cannot stand people's tendency to become conservative."
- Yohji Yamamoto

Yamamoto's collaboration with Adidas, Y-3,  sparked the beautiful intersection of fashion and athletic-wear. He embraced contemporary sneaker culture to reconnect with streetwear. This paved the way for a wide-spread coalescence of high fashion and streetwear often termed "luxury streetwear." Most major fashion names; including Off-White, Balenciaga, Gucci, Gosha Rubchinskiy, and Kanye West have fully embraced luxury streetwear.

 
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Rick Owens

"American" avant-garde fashion

 

Rick Owens, "The Lord of Darkness," is the master of combining glamour with grunge. His progressive style is characterized by luxurious fabrics and dark colors. Like Yohji Yamamoto, Rick Owens can be seen challenging social norms season after season.

“Indifference is the greatest aphrodisiac, that’s what really sums up style for me.”
- Rick Owens

 A$AP Rocky rocking Rick Owens Cargo Basket Leather Boots.

A$AP Rocky rocking Rick Owens Cargo Basket Leather Boots.

Avant-garde fashion in everyday life

Depending on how creative and adventurous you are feeling on a given day you can tailor how avant-garde you want to be. Your body is your canvas, and your fashion choices will depict the story that you want to tell. Make the outfit your own by balancing avant-garde pieces with other styles.

Remember when we said that avant-garde fashion rejects the mainstream? This is the key to the timeless aesthetic that can be achieved by embracing elements of avant-garde fashion.

Sources/Further Reading

https://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/video/inside-yohji-yamamotos-fashion-philosophy

https://www.cnn.com/style/article/yohji-yamamoto-thom-browne-menswear-interview/index.html

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/fashion/style/comme-des-garcons-advocates-wear-avant-garde-label-real-life/

Four Fall Fashion Trends That Will Make You Feel Like Kanye

written by: forrest bloom

Did you know that Kanye West once made Kim Kardashian cry after he went through her wardrobe and discarded almost everything? Seems a little mean, but Kanye lives and breathes his aesthetic. He's confident in his choices and understands the massive power of fashion. Every article of clothing that you choose to wear is a direct representation of your being. Anybody can google a Kanye West lookbook and put together some Kanye-esque outfits, but it takes a truly self-aware and confident person to find their own style and create their own vision. Here are 5 different fall fashion trends to inspire you to be your own visionary. 

Tuck Your Pants Into Your Socks

It's a nerdy trick that satisifies both form and function requirements. Don't believe me? Kanye West, Shia Labeouf, and Gosha Rubchinskiy can all be seen sporting this look. It provides a sleek, athletic silhouette while keeping your pants locked in.  It's especially stylish when done with joggers or even tapered chinos, and I find that helps keep those almost-too-loose joggers from sagging down. Although this fashion trick is an easy way to show off your fancy socks, it looks just as good with plain black or white socks. See below for some examples.

 Draw inspiration from Tyler, The Creator. His long-sleeve Stussy polo, chinos, and sneakers are the perfect middle ground for form and function.

Draw inspiration from Tyler, The Creator. His long-sleeve Stussy polo, chinos, and sneakers are the perfect middle ground for form and function.

Ditch the Short-Sleeve Polo for a Long-Sleeve One

While there's nothing inherently wrong with short-sleeve polos, they are certainly better suited for warmer weather. Long-sleeve polos combine the sophistication of a polo shirt with the silhouette and comfort inherent of long sleeves. When casually worn with joggers or jeans they trick your outfit into looking more formal or put together than it is. But, you can indeed pair it just as well underneath a nice sports coat or blazer. However you choose to wear it, a long-sleeve polo shirt is a great way to bridge the form and function gap.

Wear a Flannel Over Your Hoodie

You have probably seen people wear jean jackets and bomber jackets over sweatshirts, but it's ok, you can do it with flannels too.  This trend has roots in east coast skate culture and is often done by A$AP Rocky,  Drake, and Kanye. Wearing a flannel over your hoodie is a unique way to stay warm while adding a colorful layer to your oufit. Stick to pairing a slim, solid-colored hoodie with a contrasting flannel. I'm all about breaking the rules and pushing boundaries, but whatever you do, PLEASE do not wear one of those flannels with the hoodie built into it...

Feminize Your Mostly Masculine Closet

Ah, millennial pink...The moral of this story is don't be scared to experiment and bend gender norms. No, we aren't telling you to go wear a dress and heels, but add some pops of color or flower prints—pastels work great, sling a bag over your shoulder, and/or wear longer garments that drape down your silhouette. These simple tweaks can add some flair to your wardrobe and help differentiate yourself from the crowd. Ironically, utilizing these tips may portray you as more masculine. Of course, there will always be the fools screaming "That's gay!", but it's almost 2018 and that shit just doesn't fly anymore. Be confident in your choices and maybe you'll soon see people copy you.

 
 
FashionForrest Bloom
Our First Release

By: strangelooks

The "Swamp Dragons" collection of t-shirts will be available in burnt orange, light pink, and space grey. If you know the history of The Swamp Dragons you understand that it is a piece of history that never came to fruition. A long time before becoming the Brooklyn Nets, the NJ Nets almost changed their name to the NJ Swamp Dragons. The name went up for a league vote and every single team voted yes except for the Net's themselves. In blatant irony, it was shot down and voted against by its own creators. Here, we recreate this vision and give life to a bygone creature. Swamp Dragons are gritty, driven, and determined to do the hard work necessary to achieve great goals. Here is your change to own a piece of the swamp that never was.

How to Purchase

We are currently accepting preorders. You can view the full color selection at strangelooks.co/releases. If you already know what you want, go ahead and pre-order one Here.

The Future

Look out for a few more swamp dragon pieces in the future and stay tuned for our Swamp Dragon athletic wear.