Romeo Hunte is Brooklyn’s leading fashion designer.
Born in Brooklyn, he founded his eponymous label in 2013 after studying at the Fashion Institute of Technology and is known for his cool, polished women’s, men’s and unisex clothing that captures chic street style. He’s made a name for himself in the fashion industry for bold, sophisticated, edgy designs and for his recent collaboration with Tommy Hilfiger for his 2021 collection.
He recently launched his Fall/Winter 2022 collection in Lagos, and recently dressed actor Winston Duke also has a coat as part of it ebony November/December 2022 of the magazine with the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
Hunte also dropped a nine-piece capsule collection with Amazon’s The Drop, which lasted just 30 hours, and is known for having his designs worn by high-profile celebrities like Zendaya, Beyoncé, Selena Gomez, and Laverne Cox.
Hunte featured at Black Enterprises 40 Under 40, a star-studded event held on November 16 at City Winery New York City that brought together a dynamic group of talent – innovators, disruptors and industry leaders in technology, Business, finance, media and arts and fashion – which, according to Black Enterprise, “continue to pave a path to power and success”.
The event included performances by Power 105.1’s Travis Malloy, Terence J and DJ Self, and in addition to Hunte, honorees included TJ Adeshola, Head of Global Content Partnerships at Twitter, Angelica “Angie” Nwandu, Founder and CEO of The Shade, Room, and Melissa Butler, founder and CEO of The Lip Bar.
Hunt discusses his latest inspiration and Lagos.
Forbes: What was it like doing your fashion show in Lagos?
Romeo Hunte: This year I’ve been thinking outside the box and wanting to bring my culture – from the bodega to the streets of Brooklyn – to Lagos. It was all hand drawn drawings, everything from the graffiti to the train stations, you will see that in my new collection. I took the classic polka dot and wondered how I would recreate the classic polka dot today? A lot of the inspiration I get from Brooklyn comes from street jargon, the urban dictionary.
Can you tell us more about the brick print you brought to your capsule collection with Amazon e.g The case?
I wanted to cover the gray brick with multicolored street slang. What I look forward to are my silk sets.
The Quarter Water was a printed denim over silk.
Quarter Water is all about the appreciation of the dollar.
I would get a quarter of water, gum and some chips. It’s about having everything sketched by hand on silk and taking it to the highest level of luxury. I meet luxury, how innovative can we be?
Luxury fashion isn’t boring anymore, it’s a little bit rock n roll, fun right?
Yeah, you gotta turn it up, it gotta be fresh, what’s new? I think that’s why the industry is still trying to understand me. I want to be me, to be authentic, but when it comes to culture, it’s never been celebrated like this. I also tell stories of guys playing dice on the corner of the bodega – that could be misunderstood, but I make it luxury, I make it art. I capture these moments that I see in my own neighborhood and make this art today. It’s a nod to Biggie Smalls, my first favorite rap artist. There’s a picture of him playing dice on a street corner. I asked how do I do it now, fresh, modern?
What else have you recently released?
I also just started making underwear for both men and women. I started making underwear with a cumberband waist. They are unisex. Do you know how to wear a tuxedo with a belt tie? I recreate the tuxedo with the underwear cumber band. It gives it a chilled, swag vibe.
So would you say the look of the new collection is tailored swag?
Yes, some would call it street tailored or street swag to sum it up. I’m here in Enterprise Magazine’s Top 40 Under 40 for Fashion and Beauty. What I wanted to do on the beauty side was do cool looks that I would see around the neighborhood, like take a doobie hair wrap that women wear and take that step forward and cover their face with it. There are many ways to wear each piece.
What inspires you these days?
Right now I am my inspiration. I think of my mother as my biggest inspiration, my daughter and how I can turn things I saw as a child into art. I have a generation that relies on me and viewers that love the culture. Everything from the grillz to the way I shoot, some viewers are obsessed with it. When I got off the plane in Lagos, everyone said, “Brooklyn, Brooklyn!”
I just want to keep pushing and I want people to just be themselves. Sometimes fashion becomes ‘what’s the trend’ and I have to say, no, I’m the trend. Be yourself. Nobody has your mind, but when you share your knowledge with the world, you never know – you could change people’s lives.