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As a fashion brand, specifically a Brooklyn based brand, we are inspired by the world around us. Brooklyn continues to be our muse but this summer’s 2012 collection is more specifically guided by the movie Jungle Fever. For the Brooklyn Industries design team, the movie provided a starting point for the collection, a source of contextual visual cues for the designers to work with but that is not where it ended. Upon further examination, our initial artistic inspiration developed into a broad idea of the concrete jungle and what it means to be a part of a multicultural landscape. Our senses were awakened by the captivating aesthetics of the film and were further challenged when we began to talk about the race issues surrounding the movies characters. Despite Brooklyn’s reputation of being an oasis for diversity and acceptance, we began to question just how accepting Brooklyn was.
Like many New York residents, Brooklyn Industries Creative Director Vahap Avsar immigrated to the United States and was quickly taken aback by the racism and prejudice that was saturating the “melting pot.” While he experienced many refreshing moments of racial accord, he also saw neighborhoods still fundamentally segregated, deep-rooted anger and aggression among many of Brooklyn’s inhabitants, and racial inequality and prejudice that were still occurring in a place that prided itself on fostering diversity and acceptance. The topic of racism in the United States remained a thorn in his side throughout the years and for Brooklyn Industries Summer 2012 season, he was both inspired and driven to utilize the brand’s collection as a platform to spark a dialogue about the state of race relations in the United States and more specifically, Brooklyn.
Brooklyn Industries does not claim to be an authority on race relations or social issues in general. Our objective is not to tell the community how and what to think regarding race but as a brand that is deeply invested in the local community, we felt it imperative to continue the conversation on what many deem as a historical issue, one that no longer exists because of the progress that has been made since the days of slavery, internment camps and civil rights. While we do not discount the many accomplishments of those who have worked tirelessly to create equal opportunity, we do want to remind our community that diligence is needed and a desire to strive for progress is essential in creating a productive and truly blossoming community.
Though it was Spike Lee’s movie Jungle Fever that provoked our initial response, it is the ending in the movie School Daze and the opening credits of Do the Right Thing that serves as the strongest and most cohesive statement as to what Brooklyn Industries aims to accomplish. “Wake Up!” This is our rallying cry, our own call to action that implores our community to open its eyes to the issues within the borough. Wake up and breathe in the beauty that is Brooklyn, but don’t let that be the end. Pay attention, be a diligent participant in your community and educate yourself about the social injustices that are still occurring in 2012.
The Brooklyn Industries summer 2012 collection is more than just powerful prints and the perfect pant for the season, it is about sparking an internal revolution. A revolution in oneself that forces us to examine the state of the community that inspires us and delve deeper than what is visible at the surface. Despite the strides we’ve made within the community, it is our goal to continuously examine, discover and seek out positive change in the jungle we call Brooklyn.
To read CEO, Lexy Funk’s response to the campaign, click here.
Name: Rohan Bailey
Current occupation at BKI: Store Associate/Model
Hometown: Brooklyn, NY
Favorite BKI item (new or old): Fade Garment pants I have ALL THE COLORS.
In my fridge today: Left over pasta, chicken salad, Gatorade, fish nuggets and some sandwich meat.
I get my coffee at: My girlfriend makes the best coffee I have ever had LOL, so to answer your question – at her place!!!
When I was 16, I was wearing: Polo button downs, skinny jeans, Nike Dunks and a Burberry Hoodie! Niceeee!
Favorite thing to do in Brooklyn during the Summer: Taking long walks and getting inspiration for my clothing line and finding new restaurants or lounges.
Secret NYC spot: Private Stock on Bergen Street.
Favorite book: Killing Sacred Cows by Garrett Gunderson
Favorite word: Cha-ching
On my iPod right now: Childish Gambino, Cyhi Da Prynce, Ryan Leslie , John Legend and Robin Thicke.
How I Live, Work, Create: I Live Fashion by the way I dress and carry myself and by working in that field. I work in a store where you can kind of be yourself and standout with your own style and that allows me to create some incredibly dope ideas for my soon to be released clothing line, MSTRB – pronounced MisterB.
Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still. – Henry David Thoreau
While we love designing garments and bags and making them available for people to purchase, sometimes it’s fun to do things just for the sake of doing it. A few months ago, a bunch of us were sitting around the studio when Aaron, our Women’s Designer told us about this great company called Greenaid in California that his friends run that makes Seedbombs, and how we should write about them on our blog. Our CEO, Lexy suggested that instead of just promoting them, we should use them to make something. It was then that the idea for the Seed Dress was sown.
Three dresses were then designed and handmade by Aaron and our design team to be put on display in our Union Square, Smith Street, and Park Slope store to celebrate Earth Day, after which a ceremonial burial will take place at a nearby park. All the components of the dresses are earth friendly, from the locally sourced organic cotton voile, to the seeds embedded in fabric cut into flower shapes. The beads themselves act as the enclosures eliminating any zippers or plastic buttons. Aaron’s inspirations for the design drew from spring, femininity, and environmentalism, and the look is slightly vintage, girlish, and light, with a modern fit and styling – a design that would look great both on a woman and underground.
Let’s face it, miniature gardens are cool. Who didn’t fall in love with Mr. Miyagi’s mini horticultural wonderland in The Karate Kid? Well, now’s your chance to build your own at our Terrarium Building Event at our store in Williamsburg. Floral design studio, Red Rose & Lavender will be on hand to guide you through the terrarium building process, and even supply soil, moss, and other accessories necessary to start a garden – you just bring your favorite glass bowl, jar, or vase. Complimentary drinks proved by Sixpoint and Runa Tea. Limited seating is available. Please rsvp to email@example.com.
Last Friday, we made it out to the premiere of How To Grow A Band, an intimate music documentary about the band, Punch Brothers, and the challenges of forming a new band playing a genre that few, if any demanded – experimental chamber bluegrass. Having been turned away from Lena Dunham’s much hyped Girls premiere earlier in the week at the Ace Hotel, we were feeling much more eager to take in a story about a band undertaking the daunting task of winning over new listeners with their challenging, uncompromising craft.
The story of how Punch Brothers came to be is as unusual as their music. Unlike most up and coming bands, the group sprung from the hugely successful bluegrass band, Nickel Creek, who rode the momentum of the success of the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack to go on and sell millions of records themselves. The band was formed when Chris Thile, the mandolin player for Nickel Creek was eight years old – that’s right, eight years old, and there is some pretty hilarious footage of the kids in adorable cowboy wear playing shows with their smiling, supportive dad in the background on bass. Thile could have easily continued to put out similar bluegrass albums with the same traditional chord progressions and live a comfortable life, but instead pivoted to life in a van touring their first record, Punch, that included The Blind Leaving The Blind, a 40 minute song in four movements. After playing the piece live on their first tour of Europe in Glasgow, there’s a great, awkward scene of the crowd staring at the band in complete silence, unsure of whether to clap, dance, boo, or cry. Eventually, fans, critics, and press learn to appreciate the band’s demanding, yet cathartic music, leading the band to Lincoln Center, a Brooklyn studio, and a monthly New York City residency at The Living Room.
Unlike most music documentaries that lean on wild anecdotes and the chaos and drama of band member infighting to keep interest, Punch Brothers is more deliberate and suggestive – more Jim Jarmusch than Detroit Rock City. Riding along on the journey with the band, director Mark Meatto gracefully shoots the subtle dramas in warm, personal shots. Viewers of the movie are more likely to sense tension from close up shots of an anguished expression, or ten minute jams than from arguments or interviews. For most new bands that pass day after unglamourous day in a van, or years and years unsure about whether their music will be accepted, there’s not a better music documentary that captures that long, arduous, and uncertain journey of forming a new band.
Betsy and Emi cleaning a garden bed
Yesterday, we rounded up the BKI team and headed out to Isabahlia Garden in Brownsville, Brooklyn for a day of sun and volunteering. After being abandoned for two years, the garden had become overgrown and unused. We had a fun, fulfilling time yanking weeds, hacksawing old branches, and watching big tree trunks crush under the might of heavy machinery. With power in numbers, we were able to clear out the space of old debris in just three and a half hours. Check out the before and after pictures below!
For Brenda Duchene of Isabahlia Garden, spreading gardens is vital to a greater proliferation of fresh fruits and vegetables, providing community access to local healthy sources, and educating families about nutrition, composting, recycling, and entrepreneurialism. With the space cleared, not only is a new garden planned, but an entrepreneurial program for kids to work the land and sell the produce is in the works. In addition, Duchene plans to open a farmers market in Brownsville, a neighborhood that currently does not have any. With just a few hours of manpower, we hopefully brought her that much closer to her goal.
Erin, Brenda, and Lexy. (And Melissa trimming brush in the background)
Aaron looking fashionable as usual
The BKI team post cleanup
The Seedbomb Bracelet
Have you ever walked down the street, seen an unsightly empty or discarded lot, and felt helpless to do anything about it? Enter Seedbombs, gumball sized nuggets from Greenaid, that when incorporated into a bracelet, make portable weapons of mass beauty.
All month long, we’re celebrating Earth Day at BKI, and the Seedbomb Bracelet is our opening salvo. We reached out to our friends at Greenaid, who hand rolled the seedbombs in Culver City, CA, using local materials and sustainable packaging. Greenaid also works with Chrysalis, a local non-profit that provides employment opportunities for formerly homeless or economically disadvantaged men and women.
The Seedbomb bracelets were crafted in our DUMBO, Brooklyn design studio with 100% cotton cording. Currently, you can pick one up at our Union Square, Park Slope, and Smith Street stores, and vending machines are also set up there for individual Seedbombs for 50 cents a piece. The seedbombs are composed of a mixure of clay compost and seeds, and can be thrown anywhere in the city, yard, or neighborhood, transforming barren spaces into beautiful miniature gardens with a little sun and water.
Seedbombers in action
photo by Uwe Walter
Currently on display in Berlin until May 12th is a gallery show by BKI’s very own Creative Director, Vahap Avsar. iBerlin is an exhibit that explores the underlying patriarchal conditions of socio-political and cultural structures. Born in Turkey and currently living in New York City, Avsar is able to examine the subtle authoritarian mechanisms around him growing up in Turkey through the pop culture lens that he familiarized himself with in NYC.
In the work Originals, 2010-2012, Avsar replicated now out of print postcards that the state originally commissioned to promote its political propaganda, religious themes, and nationalism. Avsar had himself used the widespread images as source material when he was making commercial paintings as a teenager. Another common image in Turkey was of Ali the prophet, that was often hung in households with a covered fabric over it for fear of persecution. Ali, the Lion of Allah, 2011-2012 recreates the now unavailable image as an oil painting.
photo by Uwe Walter
The multimedia show also includes two video installations – one a close up of a real soldier going through a training routine, and the other putting the viewer in the crossfire of two men practicing with heavy-duty shotguns. Both videos make the viewers confront unspoken and accepted social practices in a close up and powerful environment.
photo by Uwe Walter
iBerlin, March 27, 2012 – May 5, 2012, TANAS, Space for Contemporary Turkish Art.
Brooklyn Industries stands on a foundation deeply rooted in the idea of Live, Work, Create. This is not only a tagline, it is a mission statement and choosing community partners with a similar mission is something integral to the company’s existence. This season Brooklyn Industries has partnered with The Brooklyn Children’s Museum because of their ability to create an inspiring environment that actively engages children in educational and entertaining experiences through innovation in exhibitions and programs.
Three signature designs were created for children’s tees and infant onesies on both organic cotton and 100% cotton tees to represent the museums various exhibits and campaigns. BCM Patterns tee was inspired by the upcoming Pattern Wizardry exhibit. The colorful tee features hand-drawn patterns found at the Brooklyn Children’s Museum and highlights the museum’s mascot, Fantasia, as she coils around the Brooklyn “o’s.”
As the first LEED certified museum in NYC, it was important the Brooklyn Industries design team captured the museums commitment to the environment. The Green Threads tee spells out ways to help make Brooklyn green and illustrates the five new exhibits that explain the museum’s new green features.
In celebration of the partnership, Brooklyn Industries will host a Children’s Day at the Park Slope retail location that will include interactive exhibits from the museum, arts and crafts and snacks. Guests can RSVP for the event at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Children’s Day at Park Slope BKI: April 21, 2012, 10am-1pm. 206 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11217.