Brooklyn native Romeo Hunte
debuted his new Fall/Winter 2020 collection at the illustrious Fashion Institute of Technology’s theatre in midtown Manhattan. A strong community of supporters were out in force as well as local celebrities and press in attendance. The buzz of electric anticipation was in the air, alongside the universal recognition this designer was a man of the people. The show began with a live violin performance from a leather-clad raven-haired temptress, supported by the credible nostalgic track choices of a superstar DJ. The models finessed their pathway with a theatrical presence throughout the show.
Notable looks included a khaki green oversized two-pocket blazer paired with masked hood, styled alongside a matching tone vintage attache case, a glamorous full-length black leather and blue-black fur coat, plus a reconstructed camel cashmere coat with upcycled Tommy Hilfiger denim and leather jacket torso and sleeves. Overall, twelve vintage pieces were donated from Tommy’s archive and upcycled into fresh pieces for the collection. Romeo publicly stated, “Tommy Hilfiger has produced some of the world’s most timeless pieces, that are still relevant up to date. For me, being able to integrate some of those looks with my cut and sew methods, merging the narratives of both brands, means everything. Reconstructing pieces that are already assembled was a contribution to support sustainable fashion.”
Although a sustainable effort is involved via upcycling garments, it is questionable not to continue this throughout the collection. Saga Furs, the Finnish supplier of the brand, markets itself as a responsible and ethical choice however the production of fur is associated with considerable environmental costs. A large proportion of both the fashion industry and the general public are opposed to fur farming, and its fate is a matter of political debate.
As a graduate of the Fashion Institute of Technology, it was a full-circle move to show the latest collection at his former school. Launching the brand in 2014, it developed further from Hunte’s full-time work experience as a personal shopper in luxury retail alongside editorial styling.
Speaking backstage before the show, he disclosed: “Having been born and raised in Brooklyn, I didn’t feel the culture was celebrated that much. There were certain artists that were but not on the runway, so over the seasons, I have built a balance between streetwear and tailored pieces to celebrate the culture. That’s why it’s been interesting to partner with Tommy Hilfiger on great classic staples. Focusing on outerwear and combining those worlds together, everything from your denim jacket mixed with your biker to an overcoat. That’s very modern and that twist on it very cool! A classic designer collaborating with a young designer, right now, that’s so needed in the industry!”
Commenting directly on fashion sustainability, he revealed: “I wanted to celebrate and highlight sustainability by encouraging the notion of ‘appreciate your pieces’. I feel like now, everyone wants to resell after they wear them a few times, whereas I want to show how many ways you can wear them and upcycle other great ones.” Another fashion capital he would like to showcase at is Paris – “Bringing the New York, Brooklyn swag to Paris it would be an impact”, he says. However, he intends to remain consistent in his loyalty for the time being: “Right now, a lot of designers are shying away from New York and I want to remain here and represent.”
Discussing the potential for future collaborations, he indicated, “I would love to do something with Nike and Moncler, anything that’s focused on the everyday lifestyle and changing the narrative of everyday wear. I feel like my touch is always a mixture of two different worlds, so whatever brand I would collaborate with, it would be something amazing. It would be a moment.” A firm celebrity client base of Zendaya and Beyoncé has provided him good exposure in the American marketplace. However, with an increased production budget and further collaborations, it would be interesting to see where Romeo can take things next.