‘We have our own style’: Along 25th Street, Black entrepreneurs stitch together a ‘fashion hub’ with Baltimore’s urban flair
Published in Fashion Daily News
BALTIMORE — The title “fashion capital” is usually reserved for New York, Paris, London or Milan — destinations not often considered in the same category as Baltimore. But on 25th Street, a group of Black entrepreneurs is challenging the perception that Charm City lacks flair.
“We can kind of be our own little fashion hub,” said Brittany Williams, 34, a personal shopper and the founder of IBW Creative Agency, a Baltimore-based events and styling venture. “We’re bigger than the city at this point.”
The blocks that line the southern border of Charles Village have been dubbed the “Black Wall Street of Baltimore” by business owners and it’s there that a number of homegrown clothing stores have sprung up, next to and on top of one another, over the past six years.
On April 1, to cement the presence of their scene, Williams will host a runway event highlighting the designers behind local urban streetwear brands Huey Brand, L.R.L Clothing Store, Ouftur Couture, Republic of Greatmen, STCK MRKT, Strut and WaaaH LifeStyle Brand. The Welcome to 25th Street Spring Fashion Show, which will be held in The Voxel, a performing arts theater, is also intended to expand the cultural pocket’s influence.
“Baltimore, I feel like we have our own style,” said Aja Trice, 34, the owner and designer of Strut, which sells graphic T-shirts, skirts, bags and jewelry. “We start our own trends.” All of the brands have online stores, offering logo-clad shirts, sweatsuits and hats, but the brick-and-mortar shops on 25th Street are unique to the city.
“These are things you can only find on this block,” said Williams, who also goes by B. Will.
The Baltimore native built her fashion chops in New York, where she worked behind the scenes dressing models at New York Fashion Week and with Nike, teaching employees at retailers like Foot Locker all about the brand’s kicks. In 2016, she graduated from a fashion styling certificate program at New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology.
During the coronavirus pandemic, Williams, who graduated from Baltimore City College in 2007, moved back to her hometown. As a personal shopper, she forged connections with all seven brands that will present new creations in the upcoming fashion show. Most share customers already, she said.
“You can’t come to the city without experiencing this at least one time,” said Larry Luv, 34, the owner of Huey, which produces staples like T-shirts and sweatshirts designed “for people to enjoy themselves.”
Andre “Dre” Miles, the owner and designer behind Republic, a brand of clothing that he said is meant for leisure and also feels “luxury,” described the relationships that grew between him and his fellow designers as “organic.” All of the brands operate out of storefronts on the blocks of 25th Street between Mace and Saint Paul Streets except for STCK MRKT (pronounced “STOCK market”), which had a pop-up event there but mostly does business online.
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