Brownstone has relocated to the West Coast, where they continue to push the boundaries of streetwear. Same Friends spoke with the twins behind the independent fashion label.
The following is an edited transcript.
What does Brownstone mean to you?
The concept of Brownstone to both of us was always a mix our ideas and influences under one roof so to speak. Our “fashion house” if you wanted to look at it like that. It’s where the idea that a luxury piece can sit next to a chenillepatch Varsity Jacket, or a top coat with the raw hem exposed can still be paired with a dress pant constructed of Japanese wool. That blend of high/low tastes speaks to our sensibilities and thus created our own “house.” Our own opinion on the modern fashion house.
We wanted our own place where these ideas could mesh freely and we could bring to life different things that seemed so different but through our eyes had so many similar qualities.
What ideologies do you look push via your designs/within the brand?
‘Maximum minimalism’ has been our mantra this season. For us, we strive to do as much with a single idea or concept and perfect it in our eyes. So if we’re talking a classic such as a trucker jacket, we want to give it to you with a chain stitch and heavy indigo twill one season but still be able to give you the same piece in a lux fabric like Japanese Suede with a few new tweaks. We do this season after season, it’s a perfection we work towards.
Are there any recurring fabrics throughout the collection that are key to Brownstone?
Yes! We love to work with the same fabrics throughout the seasons to help tell the brand story and identity. For us, our brand exists on the concept of a made in America brand, utilizing the top fabrics from the countries that inspired our fashion eye. So we’ve got mohair from Italy that we constantly use through the collections whether it be in a tighter weave for a more heavier fit or something more light and airy. It’s a product and fabrication of ours that we stand by.
I’d also say that our Readymade Program which we launched this Spring utilizes more of a terry and cotton base and those fabrics are meticulously sourced and consistent throughout the seasons. Our cut + sew collection speaks more so to the rarer fabrics found in Japan.
Is [both your] penchants for design self taught or did you go to a traditional fashion school? What is your favorite part of the design process?
No! We’ve never attended any sort of technical fashion school. Waverly and I both graduated from Morehouse College, which while a prestigious HBCU institution didn’t have an arts or design program. We happened to self teach ourselves along the way of creating the brand, which took many years before we officially launched. Today, while I handle most of the creative direction I still have a very cool team of guys around me who are able to lend a hand to the finalization of pieces as well as a production manager who makes sure things are going smooth and making sense.
For me, my favorite part of the creative process revolves around creating a world that the brand exists in for that specific time. I don’t look at it as abandoning the ethos every collection, more so just different rooms of the same house. We both have interests and influences that we want to express as well as things we care about that we want to highlight. I love making the brand more than just the garments.
We know you guys are twins, is it tough working with your brother or has it made things easier?
Haha! Man whew, it goes both ways. In some sense it’s much easier to have creative freedom in the design capacity because Wave trusts me to follow my muse but I also feel pressure to not let him down haha. We also probably deal with a lot of the anxiety of running a brand more because we’re aware of the responsibilities and demands we place on each other. It’s always an intense process, but we’re finally growing at a pace where we don’t have to be on each other’s heads so much I think.
Do both of you go for the same things as far as style goes or do you tend to distinguish yourselves based on how you dress?
For me, I’m finally entering the design stage of the brand where I DON’T necessarily make clothes for the style I dress, haha. I have a very specific type of style over the past few years, I haven’t bought many pieces and the ones I do I wear often. A cropped trouser, if denim I just cut it, a basic shirt or of a vintage or band tee but always something I actually support. I believe some of our strongest pieces are those that exist outside of that wheelhouse and I owe that to Waverly and his inventiveness. We always envisioned Brownstone as a mixture of that. I’m very proud to say we straddle the line. You get a soft shoulder work jacket that can double as a blazer with a matching pinstripe pant but also a super technical piece like our Sherpa Tanker Jacket. That’s our idea of the mixing of subcultures that’s Brownstone.
In your opinion, what has been Brownstone’s biggest accomplishment to date and what goals have you set for this year?
For me the biggest accomplishment thus far is being able to showcase the brand and compete in a sense with other brands we look up to who are much larger. We’ve run the brand completely independent thus far, it’s crazy to see what a dream and persistency can do. In the small time we’ve existed we’ve been able to both cater to a clientele that’s discerning as us but able to do such cool things like have a megastar like LebronJames in our pieces too. It’s cool to me that we can create a collection based around the various points of reference like The Smiths and Vintage WWII jackets, things we were fans of growing up, and have him be like “I get it, that’s cool.”
What are some of your favorite designers today or growing up? Have those people been influences within your work?
I gotta be honest, the idea of “fashion” wasn’t really introduced to me until streetwear. We grew up in a place where there was no alternative bookstore or even a boutique where you could learn about these things. The internet changed all of that of course, as did Ralph being an “American designer.”
So I was able to search for Brendon Babenzein era Supreme at the same timeI was downloading music I fell in love with (hardcore, shoegaze, post-punk/electronic, etc.) all while reading these online articles about guys like Hiroki from Visvim and Rick Owens. I hate making click-bait but it is what it is, Virgil does alot for the kids in west bumblefuck who haven’t heard Minor Threat but think they can achieve something bigger than them. I don’t necessarily subscribe to the same aesthetic as those brands, but their idea of world building and a “web browser with too many open windows” has always inspired me.
As far as art, it’s always came from the honesty and emotion I get from hardcore music. From my favorite bands to even how they conduct their business sense, that world has always appealed to me more than any other. I believe in a DIY aesthetic and creative outputs and art movements such as Brutalism, Bauhaus, No Wave, and Minimalism.
Coming up on your third year in business, do you feel the brand maturing, as it gets older?
Yes and no. It’s been moving so quickly but the idea of the brand was always to have this sort of three “collections” we wanted to express. Like a specific point of vision for the three “The World Won’t Listen”, “I Like it Here Can I Stay: Rude Boys & Girls Club, USA” and “Form/VOID.” In the mix we were able to deliver strong capsules and special releases which I actually believestrengthened those collections. So I see where we are now as a new chapter of the brand emerging. We’re just more confident and direct with what we’re conveying.
Starting an independent business is a lot of work, are you self funded or is there an investor involved and what are the some of the challenges you’ve faced with that?
Brownstone is 100% independent and it always will be.
Did your move from Atlanta to Los Angeles make any significant changes to the brand and were they positive or negative?
For sure! As far as creatively it just gave us so many more resources to make the pieces we wanted to. I mean, there’s an entire store in LA for vintage buttons, and Riri is located right here. Just that accessibility. Plus our home-base “UNDERWORLD USA” is located right in the center of where we meet with our fabric sorcerers, our production manufacturers, and our pattern development team. We do miss the “slower” pace of Atlanta, though. I miss the food and bars there the most.
You can keep up with the twins on Brownstone’s Instagram here.
All photos by Same Friends.