Fashion Designer Romeo Hunte On His Latest Collection, Lagos And His Latest Inspiration
Known for his deconstructed, unisex, sexy, chic street styles, Hunte has taken the fashion world by storm dressing A-list celebrities including former first lady Michelle Obama, Zendaya, Maluma, Jennifer Hudson, Laverne Cox, and Selena Gomez, and his Romeo Hunte X Tommy Hilfiger collection.
He recently unveiled his ‘22-’23 collection in Lagos, in conjunction with dressing actor Winston Duke in an overcoat as part of Ebony magazine’s November/December 2022 cover featuring the cast of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. As part of a limited 30-hour special promotion, Hunte dropped a nine-piece capsule collection with Amazon’s The Drop.
Hunte was featured at Black Enterprise’s 40 Under 40, a star-studded event held at City Winery in New York City on November 16, bringing together a dynamic group of talents–innovators, disruptors, and industry trailblazers in tech, business, finance, media, arts, and fashion–who “continue to pave a pathway to power and success,” according to Black Enterprise.
The event featured performances by Travis Malloy, Terence J, and DJ Self from Power 105.1, the group of honorees included Hunte alongside TJ Adeshola, the Head of Global Content Partnerships at Twitter, Angelica “Angie” Nwandu, the founder and CEO of The Shade Room, and Melissa Butler, the founder and CEO of The Lip Bar.
When asked about his experience releasing his collection in Lagos, Nigeria, Hunte revealed his intention was based on, “thinking outside the box, I wanted to bring my culture—from the Brooklyn nostalgia of the bodega, the subways and the quarter water —to Lagos. This collection features all hand sketched drawings, everything from the train station to the graffiti. For example, I recreated the classic polka dot and incorporated it into my silk prints, a nod to my six-block logo. Much of my inspiration stems from the urban dictonary and Brooklyn street slang, a theme you will see throughout my collection.”
In sharing details surrounding the brick print featured in his capsule collection with Amazon’s The Drop, Hunte said, “I wanted to reimagine Brooklyn’s brownstones by covering the bricks with multi-colored street slang. I’m most excited about my silk sets. The ‘Quarter Water’ is a printed denim over silk that gives a nod to appreciating the value of a dollar. As a child, I would get a quarter water, bubble gum and some chips, all for less than a dollar. These experiences inspired me to hand sketch it onto silk, taking it to the top tier of luxe. What’s more innovative than fusing the street corner bodega with luxury?”
Luxury fashion is no longer boring, as it now incorporates a bit of rock n roll with fun. Hunte nodded his agreement saying, “You have to turn it up. You have to keep things fresh and new. I want to continue being me, being authentic. The culture has never been celebrated this way. I’m telling stories about guys on the corner of the bodega playing dice. It could be misconceived, but I’m making it luxury by turning it into art. I’m capturing the moments I see in my own neighborhood. It’s a nod to Biggie Smalls, my first favorite rap artist. There’s an image of him rolling dice on a street corner. I wanted to make it fresh and modernize it.”
In speaking about his new collection, Hunte revealed that he just started making underwear for both men and women. “I started making unisex underwear with a cumberband tuxedo style waist. Reimagining underwear this way gives it a chill, swag kind of vibe.”
He agreed that his new collection is tailored swag, “Fashion is more than clothing designs. It is recognizing and incorporating all facets of beauty. From that perspective, I integrated dope looks I see in the neighborhood, like the doobie hair wrap that women wear, and brought it a step forward by using it to cover their face. There are many ways to wear each piece featured in my collection. I am honored to be a recipient of Black Enterprise Magazine’s 40 Under 40 award for fashion and beauty.”
As for his most recent inspiration, Hunte says his mom and my daughter are the most inspiring. “I am also inspired by my childhood experiences and strive to turn them into art that speaks to the next generation, and those who love the culture,” he said. “It’s about highlighting everything from the grillz to how I take pictures, which really resonates with some of my consumers. I was amazed when I arrived in Lagos to hear people chanting, ‘Brooklyn, Brooklyn!’ You just never know how you as an individual can inspire others. I want to keep pushing and encouraging people to just be themselves. I strive to inspire trends, not follow them. If you share what you know with the world, you never know—you could change someone’s life.”