Romeo Hunte on his biggest inspiration: the urban dictionary
Romeo Hunte is a rising star in the fashion world. The Brooklyn-born designer created his own fashion wave, even before becoming Tommy Hilfiger’s protege.
Hunte changed the game with a mix of high fashion and streetwear, having stars like Zendaya, Beyoncé and former First Lady Michelle Obama wearing her designs.
“Strong women inspire me so much,” Hunte said. “My mother is a single mother. I’ve worked with amazing women like Michelle Obama and Beyoncé, it’s about carving out something refined and yet it’s street style, there’s a kind of culture. I’m so determined to push the culture forward.
Last summer, he launched the Tommy x Romeo capsule collection as part of Hilfiger’s People’s Place program, an initiative launched in 2020 to advance underrepresented BIPOC communities through fashion. “Tommy is not just a friend, but a family,” Hunte said.
“He gave me so much feedback on work ethic and business. As they say, I’m his protege. There’s so much more work we need to do. We did something that marked the story. It’s a real collaboration. We launched a new wave.
As Hilfiger said in a recent interview, “I’ve supported and worked with Romeo for over five years, and I see a lot of a younger me in him. I want to nurture his incredible talent in a way that gives back to an industry that has given me so much.
Most recently, Hunte and visual artist Shavanté Royster unveiled the first-ever Bombay Sapphire holiday window displays in New York, where models (a collaboration with New York dancer Nicole Von Arx) wore Hunte’s winter wear, while Royster’s designs served as the backdrop. The windows are open until December 19.
Despite the e-commerce boom for luxury retail we’ve seen during lockdown, this is an example of the renaissance of in-person shopping. “It encourages people to feel life again,” Hunte said. “It’s about being optimistic, thinking outside the box. People want to experience real life in stores again. »
Since launching his brand in 2014, Hunte has shaped his brand, which fuses high art and accessibility. He is currently working on his fall/winter 2022 collection. “The game has changed a lot,” he says. “We are in a new era.
Hunte, who was born and raised in Flatbush, Brooklyn, started out designing women’s clothing, but soon noticed that men were drawn to the pieces, as he used men’s fabrics in several instances. So it was easy to change organically and create a men’s collection.
“I think everyone expects a message from me, I think they want more,” he says. “Graffiti, tags, street slang. I believe in the urban dictionary; street culture is really about self-expression.
He recently wore a sheer black veil to the British Fashion Awards celebrating Tommy Hilfiger for his Outstanding Achievement Awards, which caused quite a stir.
“I wanted to represent Brooklyn so I wore a Yankee baseball cap, and attached to the visor of the cap was a floor-length veil,” Hunte explains.
The veil was embroidered with several phrases. “There was ‘Pop out,’ which to me means being yourself, expressing yourself, and ‘What’s good,’ which is still terminology I believe in, it’s like, ‘How does that going,'” he said.
The veil paid homage to Brooklyn, which the designer said “has been through so many eras.”
He talks about the 1990s. “One era that I appreciate is the hood, with Biggie Smalls, Lil Kim and Foxy Brown; they talked to me at a young age about how they did their hair,” Hunte said. “It’s about creating a narrative, in my own way, with my own sartorial language, breaking down barriers and starting a new wave. What is formal? What is black tie?
He also recalls a memorable moment while attending this year’s Met Gala. “The first person who came up to me at the Met Gala and said they loved my look was Anna Wintour,” he recalled. “Once I got that compliment, I thought ‘I’m ready. What’s good?'”
Recently, Kevin Hart wore one of Hunte’s pieces on his Netflix show True story.
“So many people can relate to it,” notes Hunte. “I’m not trying to follow anyone’s path, I’m not one of those designers who copy and paste everything that happens, I really want to create my own wave.”