Ouigi Theodore is one of those designers who really excites us here at Concept - not just due to his incredibly well constructed clothing line The Brooklyn Circus, but also down to the fact that his passion for Ivy League style and heritage is hugely infectious. We were lucky enough to ask him a few questions on his inspiration behind The Brooklyn Circus and also find out what makes him tick.
CNCPT: Hi Ouigi, pleasure to meet you. We've been fans of the brand for a while now but for those just discovering The Brooklyn Circus can you tell us a little about the label?
Ouigi: The Brooklyn Circus was started in 2006 shortly after I closed another boutique I opened up with some college friends. The goal was to open up a new shop concept but with a global focus. A focus to bring the Brooklyn of my childhood to the world. A circus concept of community, entertainment, quality and moving history forward. #100year plan.
What was your earliest experience of fashion and how did this shape/influence The Brooklyn Circus?
I grew up in a family of women in Brooklyn with a mother who had a very strong sense of self and who travelled a lot. I also saw my grandmother and later grandfather preserve the old things they had which looked even better year after year.
What sets The Brooklyn Circus apart from other Americana/Heritage inspired brands?
Our goal was never to recreate America's past, it was and continues to be to use it as a foundation to build our take on yesterday, today and tomorrow.
We hear you're an avid collector of heritage clothing, starting out with Ralph Lauren. How far has the collection come and are there any obscure brands you have picked up and discovered through collecting?
I don't consider myself a collector, but I do have quite a few things that I've kept along the way. I've also sold a lot along the way. I look back sometimes and wish that I did not sell certain things but I guess it's part of the game. My reason for keeping certain things is because I want to wear it, love the way it looks folded or use it as inspiration. I love to live and be around beautifully made things.
Any tips for budding collectors?
Don't call yourself a collector, it gives you reason to form an expensive habit with no end. Make it a business of your interest to want to be surrounded by something you love or want to collect. Don't just collect to collect and share stories with other nerds *laughs*.
What's your personal soundtrack at the moment and how does it affect the design process of The Brooklyn Circus collections?
My soundtrack for the last 10 years has been pretty much the same. It's a combination of the same artists and genres. Lots of Studio One reggae, Fela Kuti, James Brown, Mos Def, 60s Soul, Otis Redding, Sam Cooke.
We read in one interview that your New Year's resolution was to wear more suits and travel in the name of Style and Character. How's that going and what made up your resolution outfits?
I've been doing really well with that and oh, that will also be my resolution for 2015!
If you could pick a representative for the brand - alive or dead - who would wear the collection day in, day out, who would that be?
Andre 3000, Mos Def, Black Thought from The Roots, Jonny Depp, Marcus Garvey.
Care to elaborate on The BKc's 100 year plan and what you hope to achieve?
The world has a perception of how casual American men dress but when you look at our past we are far from just casual. I was very inspired by a book called 'Freedom: A Photographic History of the African-American Struggle' By Manning Marable on Phaidon Press. It shows that even at our lowest social points as a country our men looked dignified.
And on that note, what's your expectations for The Brooklyn Circus beyond the 100 years?!
Ha good one! To repeat it all over again.