The roots of my fashion fresh were formed in the Brewery Town section of North Philadelphia, where I was born and raised.Fashion in Philly is very much a part of the culture as is Cheesesteaks and Tasty cakes. And just as I’ve been exposed to those treats I’ve been exposed to the cities many diverse styles and trends, which indirectly affected my fashion sense. But my direct influences were my older brother and designer Ralph Lauren. They inspired my interest in fashion at a young age. I paid close attention to how my brother wore and styled his clothes, mainly Ralph Lauren. His flair for fashion and Ralph Laurens designs was something I gravitated to growing up. So I took their flair infused it with my own and thus my style was conceived.
Growing up in the Graffiti Hip-Hop era also had a profound impression on my style and creativity. Seeing the different tags on walls, buses, trains and the like I felt a connection that I continue to hold to this day. The array of color and style of characters intrigued me and ultimately took a strong liking to the culture. When started to create my own images I would style my characters with the latest hip-hop fashion at that time. Brands like Adidas sweat suits, Lee jeans, and Nike just to name a few. I remember attending art classes as a child doing everything from painting and creating all sorts of images, but graffiti art had my heart.
Art and Fashion has always been an intricate part of who I am. I knew exactly what I liked in clothes and footwear, and the same can be said about what I drew. As a teenager I really developed a better sense of style and feel for clothes. When I began to purchase my own I’d put together outfits that portrayed my taste from head-to -toe. My particular sense of style gained much notoriety from my peers and they considered me to be a stylish dresser. The looks I created harnessed originality and set me apart from others. While the clothes have changed since then my DhengiStyle has remained the same, straight to the cut and neat. Not too colorful or busy and I don’t follow fads because “fads fade”. I create my own. I have a laid back demeanor and I enjoy looking cool, comfortable, and relaxed.
The idea of starting my own line came to me one day while sitting in my apartment going through some of my old graffiti artwork. I realized I had a talent for designing as I intently examined how I styled the characters I had sketched so long ago. So my background in art played a major role in my fashion savvy. At that moment I sketched my very first t-shirt. Thereafter I began sketching clothes on a regular basis. When I decided to start my own brand I wanted its name and logo to be original and eye catching, something people would notice and inquire about. I also wanted revive the fresh look of the graffiti era which I believe I achieved that with this line.
Welcome to the “New Fresh in Fashion” DhengiBrand Clothing.
Q&A With DhengiBrand CEO Gerald Lawson
BS: What are the logistics that goes into designing and creating a tangible item from the design? In your opinion, how is the fashion industry for Black designers?
Gerald Lawson: My mind runs crazy with ideas on different apparel designs so for me it’s a matter of building off that. I’ll start with a rough sketch. Thereafter i’ll communicate that to my apparel manufacturer or screen printer and the rest is history. It’s that simple for me. When I have the finish product in hand I take pictures upload to the website, share links via social media, and update subscribers to our website via newsletters.
BS: How long do you plan on branding the Dhengibrand?
Gerald Lawson: In my opinion there’s not enough support /connections in the industry for African American designers especially within our own community. Although here in Philly we have a growing network of your black designers and fashionistas who are striving to bring awareness to the general public and beyond. I still think we have a long way to go but at least we’re going.
BS: How do you attract you market and maintain a relationship with them?
Gerald Lawson: I attract my target market through PR and as I mentioned earlier social media…Facebook, Twitter, Fashion Industry Network, Linkedin etc. and also with newsletters.
BS: What other projects you have in store?